Solothus – “Realm Of Ash & Blood” (20 Buck Spin)
‘…the third album from Finland’s Solothus, drops a dripping broadsword of Cimmerian carnage and staggering death-soaked doom delirium on the scorched landscape from which only mounds of skull dust and obsidian shards shall remain…’. Indeed, I’d have to heartily agree with that statement from the band, to which I’d also add a strong, bicep flexing epic metal battleaxe making “Realm Of Ash & Blood” more that live up to it’s title, and possibly making it one of the heaviest albums this year. Think of a grim, crushing behemoth fed by the likes of Candlemass, Crowbar and Manilla Road in all their brutal yet also blissful glory and you might come close to Adam Burke’s (Hällas, Eternal Champion, Angel Witch, etc) vivid album cover depicting a kneeling warrior atop a blood soaked rocky plateau amid the carnage of his vanquished enemies! Named after a Finnish folkloric creature bringing diseases in the dead of winter and whose only satisfaction is blood sacrifice, Solothus have been in existence since 2007, releasing two prior albums and playing gigs in their homeland with Ereb Altor and Coffins, along with tours in Russia and the UK. “Realm Of Ash & Blood” continues their bloody trail of death across seven deep and epic tracks with hooks so massive they could snare a whale, while equally providing incredible melancholic melodies and acoustic ambiance in places to bring truly impressive variance to their well thought out material. Opening darkly with chiming guitars and rumbling bass on ‘Father Of Sickness’, it is but a foretaste of the crushing doom death riff drenched in reverb to slowly torture (or elate in my case!) your soul as Kari Kankaanpää’s primordial roars set the place of execution while the twin guitars of Veli-Matti Karjalainen and Aleksi Luukka alternate in delivering stirring epic breaks and somber funeral death melodies – truly breathtaking! As I said, this is no band of mindless orcs and Solothus truly show their worth on the incredible contrast between the 8 1/2 minute colossus of ‘The Gallows Promise’, where the sweet smell of funeral death is as abundant as a freshly dug grave topped off by some chugging brutality reminiscent of Bolt Thrower, and the delicate acoustic calmness of ‘Last Breath’, which at 2 1/2 minutes is thoroughly moving, both in its tones and soothing atmosphere. Charging up the amps again with soul shattering power on ‘Below Black Waters’, this stalking beast sees those chiming melodies take on an almost hypnotic effect amid the bleakness of the slow riffs, and equally the down tuned melancholia of Crowbar is also tastefully represented in absolutely no hurry whatsoever. With another barn burner of a doom death riff on ‘Chasm Of Shattered Bones’, Kankaanpää’s rasps starkly contrast the energy pulsating guitars before wailing heavy metal breaks backed by more Crowbar down tunes weigh the bottom end in a breathtaking mix of dark beauty and leaden brutality. Once again, Solothus have stormed the heights, laid waste to all asunder and taken another jeweled crown with this astonishing release – truly incredible!