Isole Bliss of Solitude

Isole are hoping to reach a broader audience with this release, their third full-length album and first for Austria’s Napalm Records, and they have good reason to. Bliss of Solitude has multiple angles of appeal, from its doom metal core to moments of death metal intensity and gothic reverie. Even at its most relaxed, the record gives off a feeling of barely reined-in menace, and its slow movement, rather than plodding, is often deliberate and occasionally ferocious: "Aska,” for example, begins with pounding aggression then drifts into morose but tense permutations. Though Isole are from Sweden, they evoke the UK’s My Dying Bride more than Swedish death metal, or even doom-laden label-mates Draconian, and the clean vocals that dominate Bliss of Solitude particularly echo the dreaminess of Morgion’s softer breaks. Self-producing, Isole favour dense textures, Eastern-flavoured leads etched into thick banks of rhythm guitar tracks, keyboards or acoustic interludes used as accents. Striking the right balance of murk and clarity, the record relies on a subtle cumulative power instead of beating you over the head with brilliance, but it’s a formula that works, leaving you at the end of these seven tracks still wanting more. (Napalm)