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Solothus : Realm Of Ash And Blood

Finnish band Solothus proffer their third full-length as an uncompromising slab of slow, brooding and relentless Death/Doom.

You’ve got to hand it to the Finns, haven’t you? For a country with such a small population, Finland produces an incredible amount of Metal bands, especially when it comes to both Black Metal and Doom Metal, and I tend to find that they’re very good at it too. Despite 'Realm Of Ash And Blood' being my first encounter with Solothus, it’s safe to say that I liked their music from the moment I heard the guttural vocals at the opening of 'Father of Sickness' so the ‘search’ for a Finnish band I’m yet to not enjoy the music of continues.

This is the third full-length from Solothus, following 'Summoned From The Void' and 'No Kings Reigned Eternal' respectively, which are two albums that I fully intend on listening to having now stumbled across Solothus. I couldn’t honestly describe what they do as being particularly unique; I think it’s very difficult to do that in Doom Metal nowadays anyway. The type of Death/Doom they play really does appeal to me, though. It’s slow, brooding, and menacing without too many forays into the Death Metal side of things. I tend to find that striking the right balance between Death and Doom is quite challenging for most bands nowadays, but not for Solothus.

Indeed, I’ve even seen some reviews online that have been a tad critical of Solothus for not having more ‘variety’ on this album i.e. playing with greater tempo. I don’t mind that idea, but I don’t see what this album would gain from such because it’s already pristine, in my opinion. For me, Solothus have stuck to what they do best on 'Realm Of Ash And Blood' by playing some slightly old style Death/Doom minus the shoddy production. I normally prefer the shoddier productions with such styles but Solothus do it well enough on this album for that to not really be a factor to me.

Essentially, what you’ll hear on this album is a band that is completely in control of what they’re doing. There’s not an element of doubt in anything that they do in the sense that they don’t feel compelled to attempt various styles on the same album in order to cover more bases. No, it’s all about slow Death/Doom with very occasional bursts of Death Metal and the odd screeching solo. There’s nothing complex about this music, whether it’s the style, the lyrics, the smart digipak it comes in, or indeed the band in general - and I like that a lot.

What I like the most about this album is that they’ve retained a real sense of Cathedral-level evil in their music’s atmosphere. For a ‘clean’ production, it’s a remarkably dark composition, 'Realm Of Ash And Blood', laden with thunderous, chugging riffs. I tend to find that most bands nowadays break their individual tracks up with instrumental interludes, or try to take songs in another direction - but not Solothus. The closest you’ll find to that on this album is on the brief track 'Last Breath', which effectively is an instrumental composition in itself and should really have been the intro for the album, in my opinion. What you basically get on this album is precisely what it says on the tin; it’s 41 minutes of relentless, unbridled Death/Doom. For the most part, the Finns have stuck true to their roots here, and I love it!

Like I said earlier in the review, there’s not much by way of variety on this album, which some can perceive as a negative. However, the only negative I can speak of is that I wish the album was longer because I can’t get enough of this type of Death/Doom; it’s right up my alley. The unyielding guttural vocals complement the dark Death/Doom brilliantly, not dominating each track but not slipping past unnoticed either. The musicianship is very good; everything sounds pristine to me. There’s no confusion about what direction the band are heading in on any of their tracks. What’s not to like?

Bluntly put, Solothus are efficient, effective, and excellent on 'Realm Of Ash And Blood', which makes it a must for any Death/Doom fan.

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Reviewer's rating: 9.5/10


Tracklist :
1. Father Of Sickness
2. The Watcher
3. The Gallows’ Promise
4. Last Breath
5. Below Black Waters
6. Chasm Of Shattered Bones
7. A Rain Of Ash

Duration : Approx. 43 minutes

Visit the Solothus bandpage.

Reviewed on 2022-10-24 by Ian Morrissey
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