Isole – “Dystopia” (Hammerheart Records)
Battle Helm Rating
Synonymous with funeral doom since the 90s, a change of label in more recent times saw Isole take a more progressive direction but “Dystopia” returns them to their gloomy past, albeit with a few tinges of sunshine here and there! Mixing harsh and trippy soulful, if melancholic vocals, the award winning formula of slow, grim riffs all played to moribund tones at depressive pace has taken this Swedish band through 6 prior full length releases, all with epic length songs. Despite its dark title, “Dystopia” is something of a hybrid, certainly full of all the aforementioned signature sounds of the band, but on some of the 7 songs, shimmering melodies, passionate wailing solos and even shoe gaze soundscapes also play a role in allowing the non initiated to pull away from the abyss. Just. Me? I just love the old stuff and thanks to the impressive sound that adds even more atmospheric power to the likes of ‘Written In Sand’ where syrup thick doom riffs drenched in reverb plod the death march through ghostly whispers and angelic voices, only the sorrowful wailing solo offers any path to salvation. Even more mustier though is the aptly titled ‘Forged By Fear’ with its dramatic contrast of foreboding growls and lamentable wails given afterlife from the harsh, chundering background incorporating dark harmonies befitting a perfect eternal rest in the crypt. Closing with ‘Nothingness’, its slow, thick dirty riffing contrasted impressively by a variety of vocal styles from growling to angelic soul and haunting melancholy and backed by the imposing power of the rhythm brings an excellent and lasting end to this excellent album. As such, “Dystopia” is something lovers of early Candlemass, Paradise Lost and Anathema will undoubtedly take to as Isole once more bring to the fore their unforgettable style in proving yet again they are masters at what they do.