If Ghost seem like they’re trying just that bit too hard or you’re still not sure if they are some sort of elaborate joke that’s gotten out of hand, then fellow Swedes In Solitude return to offer something similarly shadowy but less knowing. Summoning the same spirits of classic metal and sub-Satanic rhetoric as Papa Emeritus and co, on their third full-length In Solitude – who have been going a lot longer than Ghost, it should be noted – offers eight songs of occult pop.
They may baulk at the term and its distinctly non-demonic connotations, but this is swooning pop music, albeit with funereal tones and a plush red velvet underbelly. On A Buried Sun, for example, Mercyful Fate is an obvious reference point – but so are The Doors, Nick Cave’s darkly dramatic Aussie reprobates The Bad Seeds and their lesser English contemporaries, The Cult. Existing fans will know this already, of course, but In Solitude deliver with enough finesse and sheen that they’re in very real danger of crossing over.
Heavy roadwork with the likes of Amon Amarth and Down has clearly shaped the quartet into a much more interesting band than the one who debuted five years ago as their sound has broadened out. The portentous musical theatrics of Lavender hears singer Pelle Åhman bellowing with mean intent, while Horses In The Ground is pure schlock-horror doom with some classic metal soloing.
As with the current emerging wave of doom bands (Ghost, Witchcraft, Blood Ceremony, countless others) In Solitude, you suspect, have one eye on commercial appeal. They aren’t afraid to throw a chorus in among the type of guitar interplay from Niklas Lindström and Henrik Palm that’s pure NWOBHM, and while this all means they’ll be too light for those who like it brutal, their Hammer Horror atmospherics and touch of the epic on album closer Inmost Negrido (featuring a guest turn from Watain’s Pelle Forsberg) largely hits the spot.
Maybe it’s all a reaction to black metal bands trying to out-intensify each other, but something is happening out there. In finding new ways to sing about death, doom has found a new lease of life. In Solitude are among the new breed.