Metal Mind Productions continue to reissue the back catalog of one of the finest melodic doom metal bands to ever grace the planet, Solitude Aeturnus. Downfall was the band's fourth album, and continued the fine trend the Texas doomsters had set with their first trio of releases. Though some of the tempos here on this one are a little kicked up, expect plenty of crushing metal along the lines of Candlemass, Trouble, and of course the mighty Black Sabbath.
Imagine it's 1996 all over again, and a metal fan picks up a copy of Downfall, their first purchase of a Solitude Aeturnus CD, and instantly gets hit with the opening assault of "Phantoms", one of the most supercharged tunes this band has ever written. That fan must have wondered "wow, this is no slow, dirge-like doom here!". Well, yes and no. There's plenty of that here as well, but for the most part, things are more along the lines of, say, Nevermore if they had jammed with Sabbath, a dark, often progressive and sometimes power doom metal style if that makes any sense. "Only This (And Nothing More)" starts off with dark, menacing doom riffs from John Perez & Edgar Rivera, vocalist Robert Lowe spewing his ominous tone, before the pace kicks up and drummer Wolf rampages through the mix with some hefty double bass drumming alongside a fury of raging metal guitar. This one's truly a monster of both power & doom metal, dark as hell and truly evil sounding.
A old audio snippet between Maleeva the Gypsy and Larry Talbot from the classic Universal horror movie The Wolfman leads in the hypnotic "Midnight Dreams", a slow, torturous example of atmospheric metal, Lowe's effects laden vocals soaring over a bed of acoustic guitars, booming metal riffs, and plodding rhythms. The band then lurches back in with the Sabbathian "Together and Wither", doom all the way complete with stomping riffs and Lowe's high pitched wailings, which leads into the creepy "Elysium", with Lowe's vocals sounding all sorts of bizarre, at times almost like they are played backwards, with distorted bass drones and fuzzed out guitar ramblings providing the support role. A strange piece indeed. Next up is the cover of the Christian Death song "Deathwish", done up Solitude Aeturnus style with plenty of beefy riffs and slamming rhythms, but it almost sounds a bit too upbeat compared to the rest of this set. That's not the case for the steamrolling "These Are the Nameless", a furious piece with some delicious guitar riffs from Perez & Rivera, as well as a great vocal from Lowe. The singer also works wonders on the epic sounding "Chapel Of Burning", a very 'Candlemass-ish' sounding piece (it's no wonder he got the gig with that band after Messiah left a year or so ago), and it's all systems go for the whole band on the scorching closer "Concern", this one featuring soaring vocals and plenty of doomy yet symphonic metal arrangements.
Reading the booklet, John Perez talks about how the band really hated the way the production of this album came out back when it was originally released. With the recent remaster treatment, it sounds pretty good to these ears, the guitars and bass having a lot of 'fuzz', which I don't mind on a metal release, especially a doom album. Though Downfall might not be the classic that Through the Darkest Hour or Beyond the Crimson Horizon are, it's still a solid slab of Solitude Aeturnus. This Metal Mind reissue comes in a nice digipack with an essay from John Perez, full lyrics, band history, and a bonus track on the CD, a live version of "Phantoms". What more can you ask for?
- Only This (And Nothing More)
- Midnight Dreams
- Together And Wither
- These Are The Nameless
- Chapel Of Burning
- Phantoms-bonus live track