Isole – The Calm Hunter (Cyclone Empire)Sunday, 14th December 2014
The potential has always been there for Sweden’s Isole. The band’s 2008 opus Bliss of Solitude remains a vastly underrated go at melodic, morose, and spacious doom; doom that had more to do with mood than death metal, if anything. Unfortunately, the Swedes have yet to match said album, reeling off three albums (including The Calm Hunter) that while sturdy, don’t pack the allure or magnetism of Bliss of Solitude. It’s a bit of a head-scratching item, actually, and one of the rare instances that if the band were to repeat itself, all would be well. Not the case here, to state the obvious.
The primary components of Isole are Daniel Brynste’s airy, not-so-emotive, but awfully convincing vocals, along slow, unimposing riffs that are somehow convincing. (This band is a study in contrasts.) For Brynste, he remains an identifiable force, always spot-on with his pitch, virtually lurking around every corner that pops up on the album. Most of the action lies with the opening title track and the two-part “Dead to Me (The Destroyer Part I)” and “My Regret (The Destroyer Part II),” two cuts that paint broad Euro doom strokes with pointed melodies and lanky arrangements. Yet, the moments to pounce on are hard to come by. The dull “Into Oblivion” lacks conviction; “Perdition” is minimal and drab, while “Alone in Silence” is lumbering to a fault.
Excuse the relative harshness. Perhaps it’s exasperated by the relative disappointment found with The Calm Hunter and Isole as a whole. A band that was so easy to champion for the last few years has dug itself into a corner, practically forsaking the timeless, atmospherically charming and down-in-the-dumps dynamics that were so passionate on Bliss of Solitude. Sometimes bands don’t know of a good thing when they have it. Case in point with Isole.