SummaryOf groove and grief
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It’s remarkable how there were so many doom/death metal bands coming out of Holland back in the day, with bands like Sempiternal Deathreign, Delirium and Mourning originating all the way back to the late 80’s even. Unlike those bands, Celestial Season stood out due to their longer lifespan as well as their melancholic, yet rocking take on doom/death metal, before heading into a stoner metal direction for a while.
Multifaceted riffing, violins and deep growls that come straight from Stefan Ruiters’ Dutch belly are all part the record’s charm here. You could tell that these guys listened to Trouble as well as My Dying Bride and hence I’d argue that Solar Lovers should appeal as much to doom metal fans who want to rock out as to doom metal fans who look for an emotional outlet. Sure, earlier bands aimed for similar results, but there hasn’t been many – Paradise Lost’s Shades of God could be a clear point of reference, as could be God Forsaken’s Dismal Gleams of Desolation (which I think stinks… but that’s neither here or there). It also helps that Solar Lovers sounds more refined than their debut and therefore makes it a superior sophomore record.
Swinging riffs sections lead into gloomier, few-notes movements, yet Celestial Season manage to pull both aspects off well, even if the writing doesn’t quite make it to the standards of earlier and well-known doom/death metal records (Gothic, As the Flower Withers, etc.) A big plus includes the record’s ass-kicking introduction; “Decamerone” haunts the night, yet does so with big riffs crushing all in sight, resulting into a proper doom-styled mammoth that rocks out, yet leaves a sentimental aftertaste behind. “Solar Child” rocks even harder, and the band’s sense of sentimentality is nowhere to be heard here – instead, you end up with a good old dose of faithful doom riffs that loudly lead towards the finish line.
From here, Solar Lovers continues to fuse gloom and groove, with a few exceptions here and there. Short, so-so interludes appear from time to time, but they’re not making much of a change and it doesn’t help that they sound like outtakes from the songs themselves. There’s also an Ultravox cover that can’t get unnoticed and why this doom/death metal band felt like covering a synthpop song is beyond me. As you might expect, it doesn’t turn out well – not that I like the original to begin with, but it’s terribly out of place and if you must replace poppy clean vocals with death metal growls, you might have to ask yourself why you cover something in the first place. Fortunately, the actual original tunes remain fairly good and in fact, Solar Lovers saves the best for the last. “The Scent of Eve” might be full of lyrical clichés, but hearing these eerie violins creep next to these melodic, yet well-timed guitar riffs is absolutely wonderful. The tempo changes also appear fluently and the track hardly feels as long as it is; which obviously a big plus point.
It may not be the best doom/death metal album of 1995, but Solar Lovers is worth going after… especially if you’re not sure about wanting to rock out or to need some sentimental tunes to fit your melancholy mood.
Release date: November 21st, 1995
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