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In Solitude - Sister

by Matt Hensch

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In Solitude has been anything but traditional. Their self-titled debut rocked my tits off with its Mercyful Fate-esque atmosphere and precision, while the band's second full-length, "The World. The Flesh. The Devil." brought intriguing differences to the Swedish void of In Solitude. I never would've expected any subsequent releases to top their first record, but once again I'm left walking away with my tail between my legs. "Sister" is a radical shift from both of In Solitude's previous albums. Dark 70s rock influences and touches of post-punk and gothic movements grace the skin of "Sister," leaving little room for the old-school heavy metal onslaughts of yesteryears. Don't confuse it for absentminded experimentation, however: "Sister"Śa stew of Danzig, Swans, and In Solitude's former stylesŚis an astounding achievement throughout.

"Sister" has more in common with Sisters of Mercy than it does Mercyful Fate. While this observation would have had most proverbially sweating (including yours truly), In Solitude naturally progressed into this new frontier excellently. The movement into gothic rock territory seems like it was an incredibly smooth transition, and really not that surprising given Pelle ┼hman's low register and the group's signature brooding atmosphere. The sound of "Sister" is obviously a wonderful progression for In Solitude. The opening "He Comes," an acoustic introduction, slithers around ┼hman's ritualistic voice with a familiar texture that the band's previous records hold, though seen under this new lens. Although just one of the eight cuts, the song shows the band shedding its skin yet paying homage to In Solitude's primordial roots.

┼hman sounds much more natural within this setting than the self-titled debut and "The World. The Flesh. The Devil." though those were hardly lackluster efforts. It simply feels like a band in its prime. The riffs and musical movements are also remarkably bold and fresh, running through a gauntlet of harrowing melodies and passionate structures. The seven-minute "A Buried Sun" sounds like a Danzig song gone to Hell and back, bruising through a smoldering chorus and haunting lead guitar work. Heavier anthems like "Pallid Hands" and the title track show flares of In Solitude's former works, yet glimmers of a punk-laden shade grace "Lavender" and othersŚeach track is in a sphere of its own. Even Jarboe of Swans fame makes a cameo; her appearance is profoundly fitting.

In Solitude's efforts solidify the Swedish faction as one of heavy metal's prime tribes; truly fantastic bands are able to naturally and comfortably evolve their identities like they've done here. "Sister" is In Solitude's stylistic jump from skillful heavy metal squad to the cream of the crop, the antithesis of a forced experimental phase that so many groups succumb to. Simply put, this monolithic collection of blackened rituals is easily the finest representation of the dark art of In Solitude and the rise of a new titan. Every aspect of the band's attack has been redefined and sharpened to the point of pure excellence, as this is definitely their best release and one of the finest of 2013.

In Solitude - Sister
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