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Isole - "Born from Shadows" (CD)

Isole - "Born from Shadows" CD cover image

"Born from Shadows" track listing:

1. The Lake
2. Black Hours
3. Born from Shadows
4. Come to Me
5. My Angel
6. Condemned
7. When All is Black

Reviewed by on October 21, 2011

"With sludge becoming the go-to form of doom these days, it’s a relief to find an album with tragic atmosphere such as 'Born from Shadows.'"

Now that Candlemass has announced abdicating their throne of grandiosity, we have to wonder who will take their place as the kings of epic doom. To answer that question, one need not look any further than their native country of Sweden. Although Isole has a 20-year history that includes answering to the name Forlorn in the '90s, the group’s melancholy message didn’t reach its greatest mass until releasing “Bliss of Solitude” through Napalm Records in 2008. “Born from Shadows” keeps the (crimson) tide rolling, marking the third album on Napalm in as many years for the sullen Swedes.

“The Lake” opens the record in a true Candlemass fashion. As lone guitar notes ring out singular harmonies, a feeling of isolation becomes the focal point. Daniel Bryntse keeps the music contained, singing in a lower register, but raises the volume dramatically once the drums come crashing in. The force of this dynamic is a presence that can’t be denied. Candlemass’ “Solitude” or “A Sorcerer’s Pledge” has a similar effect. Upon hearing the explosive solo that initiates the second track “Black Hours,” one might conclude “Born from Shadows” borrows too heavily from Candlemass. That is not the case, though. Isole offers much, much more than a cheap imitation of their compatriots of doom.

One feature of “Born from Shadows” that owes nothing to Candlemass is the group’s dualistic vocals. While the majority of vocals are cleanly sung, even operatic at times, the band also utilizes deathly growls. Like an evil spirit announcing its presence through frigid temperatures, Isole assumes a malevolent direction when voice change occurs. The title track and “Condemned” pick up the tempo and transform heavenly harmonies into diabolic dirges. Using this bi-polar vocal approach surely brings to mind My Dying Bride, although not as much in form as in concept, as do many of the harmonies and keyboards.

Creating a sound completely different is nearly impossible, especially when metal has 40 years of innovation behind it. Even Candlemass borrowed bits from Black Sabbath and St. Vitus. In the case of Isole, the group seems divided between the epic doom of Candlemass and the depressive death/doom of My Dying Bride. Maybe these influences show up elsewhere, but if they do, it’s a rare occurrence. Also, Isole has 20 years of practice, so they’ve perfected this style. With sludge becoming the go-to form of doom these days, it’s a relief to find an album with tragic atmosphere such as “Born from Shadows.”

Highs: The dual vocal approach, guitars and sorrowful mood

Lows: "My Angel" could be shorter.

Bottom line: If terms such as "epic" and "depressive" catch your eye, then "Born from Shadows" is a must-have album.

Rated 5 out of 5 skulls
5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)