For their fifth full-length album Indianapolis, Indiana-based doom metal quartet Apostle of Solitude present their craft as a personal yet decidedly shared reaction to the human condition at present and, for most, this’ll be meaningful enough surface-level summation of heavy rock’s major goal and their general modus since forming in 2004. I’d argue this time around is a bit different, a bit more dire in statement as the key to the quarry at hand is resignation to an indeterminate bout of hopelessness, a loss of control and in turn security that should send deep shocks through the spine of any doom metal attuned fellow seeking relief within the greater cult. ‘Until the Darkness Goes‘ is in part a direct expression of the hopeless feeling associated with waiting for the world to return to what it was before the enduring global health crisis began meting out mass death, a nigh total loss of intimate gatherings, and the dissolution of the greater supply chain that’d make recording, manufacturing, and performing music either dangerous or severely delayed. Yet it isn’t the ‘work’ of music that is missed as much as the connection with the scant slice of folks left to commiserate with. Their reaching for a bit of humanity in the ashes of this present darkness makes for a finest, humbling experience to slow-walk through the rest of the season with.
Focused on a continuously flowing exploration of mood, succinct in terms of directly stated classic doom metal songwriting, and neatly stylized between a warm-yet-distant rumbling production and every bit of their grungy-yet-classicist nature in tact — It’d be fair to suggest up front that ‘Until the Darkness Goes’ is Apostle of Solitude at their most preened over but certainly not clean-shaven state. Is it their best album yet? There’ll have to be a series of follow-up questions to confirm but at the very least it is safe to say this is the most easily accessible set of songs they’ve released since their first post-demo days full-length ‘Sincerest Misery‘ (2008). The first question that comes to mind is whether or not this is a rare bout of reactivity for the band. Nah, and I wouldn’t even qualify the lyrical themes as such. They’ve always brought this level of personal, often tragic reflection in terms of message and voice garnering comparisons to early Pale Divine and Solstice alike. The second question that arises at this point is, were they careless or rushed in the past? Probably not. In fact the post-2011 addition of Steve Janiak (Devil to Pay) was a sort of boon of inspiration that’d found their fairly straight forward doom metal style sprawling into a more original sound on their last two records ‘Of Woe and Wounds‘ (2014) & ‘From Gold to Ash‘ (2018). There is something to be said for Apostle of Solitude tightening up their songcraft on ‘Until the Darkness Goes’ for the sake of emotive impact and still powering out the sort of sorrowful, cathartic dirges they’re known for.
“The Union” describes our “truth unknown” as a goal within a world given to mankind and emphasizes that we all die alone as the answer. This is obviously going to read like me explaining the punchline of a joke, an obviate poetic statement should be dissected, laid plain and stared at before a hundred angles of meaning might arise: A post-Christian worldview, indication of political separation, and perhaps even strong empathy for an increasingly common separation from loved ones while they die in quarantine, etc. Find your own interpretation as you see fit. Through these lyrics and perhaps with some concerted fandom of doom metal standards and practices we can view this as a sort of blues-philosophic conversation with the lyricist, stepping right into “Apathy in Isolation” with an immediate exclamation of “Its too late for sorrow…” just seconds after “The Union” dissolves. There is a beauty to this train of thought as it is presented and the consistent mood of ‘Until the Darkness Goes’ begins to achieve the intimacy of a personal conversation rather than the escapist or edifying statements modern doom metal often resorts to.
Harmonizing disillusionment — Though the opener/title track is most up front with these sorts of instantly gratifying hooks, it is the dual vocal performance of “Apathy in Isolation” which stands out as the strongest hit of the Warning by way of Mad Season moodiness which sustains the conviction of the album through its many deflating statements. “Deeper Than the Oceans” layers these harmonies more directly, pulling from the ease of early 70’s southern rock to some degree even if the song itself is pained and pining with darker consequence than that description might imply. At this point we’re neck deep in the album and I’ve not really poured over the guitar performances and composition, this should indicate a warm, plodding yet functionally readable set of rhythms largely serving the vocal arrangements, or, just as equally serving under extended lead melodies. In English? Simpler, more effective riffs with a strong chorus reveal in mind. This’ll feel natural to folks who’ve some great love for ‘epic’ and traditional doom metal movement but it’d landed somewhat languid compared to the sublime and occasionally unpredictable ‘From Gold to Ash’ for my own taste. The gist of the full listen is that the lyric sheet is going to be the major connection to make while the songwriting and arrangements double down upon a singular mood which plods along in one continuous mental dirge.
‘Until the Darkness Goes’ is a Hell of a bummer and a fine (mostly) traditional doom metal album which is a pleasure to revisit when seeking its dark autumnal brood. The experience is not infinitely repeatable for my own taste but there is a strong voice to be heard and much left to be considered within its sigh heavy, slow-burning spin. Toss in the perfect choice of cover art from Waeik and a runtime under forty minutes and there is little reason not to warm up to the complete experience. A high recommendation.
|ARTIST:||APOSTLE OF SOLITUDE|
|TITLE:||Until the Darkness Goes|
|LABEL(S):||Cruz Del Sur Music|
|RELEASE DATE:||November 19th, 2021|
|BUY & LISTEN:||Bandcamp | Cruz Del Sur Store|
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