[22 March 2010]
PopMatters Contributing Editor
All of a sudden it seems that Indianapolis is proving to be quite the breeding ground for some damn good metal acts these days, with the Gates of Slumber, Coffinworm, and Sleepbringer to name a few, but when all is said and done, Apostle of Solitude might just the one Indy band that will wind up being the very best of the lot. Cut from the same cloth as the talented Gates of Slumber, this foursome specializes in doom metal of the classic variety, channeling progenitors Black Sabbath and Pentagram, as well as ‘80s and ‘90s bands such as Candlemass, the Obsessed, and Solitude Aeternus. Unlike Gates, though, Apostle of Solitude has a much better grip on song dynamics and especially vocal melodies; so much so, in fact, that it’s tempting to say we haven’t heard melodic vocals this strong from a new doom band since the early 1990s.
Needless to say, Last Sunrise doesn’t disappoint at all. And don’t let the rather questionable artwork fool you, this is doom of the epic variety, riffs crawling rather than galloping, songs often stretching past the seven minute mark. Despite the lugubrious pace there’s no sense of tedium either; if Chuck Brown’s exceptional lead vocals don’t rope you in, the arrangements will, something best exemplified on “Hunter Sick Rapture”, “Frontiers of Pain” (wait for the sudden turn towards old-fashioned d-beat hardcore), and “Coldest Love”. It’s not all muscle and menace, either, as there’s a melancholic streak that runs through this record as well, lending “December Drives Me to Tears” a very strong Katatonia vibe. The album’s strongest moment, though, is the sprawling, 16-plus minute trilogy of “Acknowledging the Demon”, “Other Voices”, and “Letting Go of the Wheel”, in which Brown and his mates combine some gargantuan riffs with some good old heavy rock psychodrama. Appended with three bonus track covers, including a ripping rendition of the Misfits’ “Astro Zombies”, Last Sunrise is a must for not only doom fans, but anyone who loves traditional metal.