Solothus Realm of Ash and Blood
Published Mar 27, 2020Realm of Ash and Blood is the third album from Solothus, and their first since signing to 20 Buck Spin, a fine label for death/doom concocting Finns such as these.
The death/doom of Solothus is not the sound of extremely rotted Autopsy, or Bolt Thrower stretched out by a torture rack, as revelled in by a band like Coffins. They prefer a larger portion of traditional doom pounded into their molten ore of death. "The Watcher" is the best example of their style on Realm; the band lean into their doom sensibilities to explore more interesting progressions and note choices on this song, and craft it with spacious riffs and pounding drums.
However, apart from that, there is not much to enjoy on this album. It starts slow, with "Father of Sickness," a song built on the withered back of tired and predictable riffs, and doesn't improve much from there. Coupled with often monotonous death growls, the generic riffs create a kind of highway hypnosis on longer, meandering songs like "The Gallows' Promise" and "A Rain of Ash," which just become white noise in your head before the end. The only life breaking up this barren desert of sound are sporadic guitar solos, but they're cheesy and uninspired and just detract from the songs.
Despite the imagery in its lyrics, Realms is not an adventurous album. It prefers to approximate its influences or stick to tried and true songwriting. The familiarity and predictability is so distracting it can't lead you anywhere epic, gloomy or brutal. It only ends up sounding like soft Hooded Menace or lazy Amon Amarth. (20 Buck Spin)