The concept of a guided tour around a city centre is, on the face of it, a decent idea. All the better if it’s a night tour of all the area’s more spooky haunts. I’d understand if this one isn’t your bag though – having some pimply pre-pubescent in a bleeding Scream mask jumping out at you can inspire one to violence. How about a guided tour down through the nine circles of hell, though? Yes? In that case, you’ve come to the right place.
It doesn’t take a genius to understand that Dante Alighieri’s
14th-century allegorical epic poem Inferno (the first part of his
monster work The Divine Comedy), where his guide Virgil takes him down
into the belly of the Earth, has played a hugely influential role in the
development of the dark arts both directly and indirectly. It seems
such a natural progression, then, for heavy metal bands (Iced Earth,
Sepultura, Meshuggah, HIM, etc. ad infinitum) to look upon the visions
of Dante as truly inspirational. London’s Eye Of Solitude, with new
album Canto III, are the latest to have a crack at providing the
ultimate soundtrack to his prose.
here to listen whilst you read...
From every angle, their soul-sapping, funereal doom is perfectly
suited to the role and, quite honestly, if at some point during its
running time you don’t feel overwhelmed then you have a harder heart
than my own. I felt overwhelmed just looking at that gorgeous album
cover (by Mortal Torment’s own Giannis Nakos) of Charon the ferryman
navigating the river Acheron. I mean, just look at the intensity of the
colours and the gentle tapering of the misty point where sky meets
Naturally attempting to live up to the imagery, one instantly knows
the music is not going to be for the faint of heart. Take the lyrics.
When they are delivered at little more than a skull-shaking rumble, all
frustrating attempts to decipher those words that lurk behind it is
going to be an impossible task. However, it does seem safe to assume
that somewhere amidst the fear-mongering, the infamous (and much abused)
line “Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate” (meaning “Abandon all
hope, ye who enter here”) will feature in some form.
So, wind up the volume, sink back and close your eyes and let your
imagination run amok. Follow these instructions and you will discover
that from the thunder and lightning as the first act “Between Two
Worlds” opens, right through to the close of the sixth act as dawn
breaks “In The Desert Vast”, Eye Of Solitude have created a gripping, at
times bludgeoning and often torturous experience. When the double-kick
isn’t letting rip and the infamous soul-sucking roar of lead vocalist
Daniel Neagoe isn’t kicking you in the gut, the effective insertion of
featherlight segues encourages your mind to wander off and explore the
landscape that the music inhabits.
“Where the Descent Began”, for instance, is a track that features a
pounding heartbeat effect, echoing footsteps, cries of anguish and a
wedge of breathy vocal. There’s also guest spots from Anton Rosa on
vocals and Dmitry “Casper” Rishko on violin (both from Russia’s
Dominia). “He Who Willingly Suffers” features a gentle piano riff and a
faltering spoken vocal, both so restrained and so doused in emotion that
they will leave you reeling. “The Pathway Has Been Lost” has sobbing,
whilst “I Sat In Silence” is all about Neagoe letting go of his very
deepest, bowel-emptying growl.
The critic in me would have preferred a grittier guitar tone on the
lead solos (they’re a bit too electro, a bit too synthetic), and an even
tougher, meatier bite to the doom with a more intense degree of
layering. Also, hearing more of the varying types of torture suffered by
the sinners and their vocalised anguish would have ramped the fear up
Happily, Dante’s Inferno is this year’s current hot topic, thanks to
Dan Brown’s latest adventurous novel. That particular release is a
timely reminder of just how much frivolous tat on the subject there
really is out there. Fear not though, if you are you still a lost soul
who fancies getting closer to a taste of what hell is like then, next to
the great work itself, Canto III is one of your better
options. It is a distressingly cruel, grief-soaked and ultimately
tormenting journey that Eye Of Solitude have presented here. You know
you have sinned. Now prepare to regret and repent.
Also online @ Ave Noctum = http://www.avenoctum.com/2013/12/eye-of-solitude-canto-iii/