Review: Solus – Insight 8

  • Solus
  • Insight
  • Symphonic metal/Melodic black metal
  • Sweden
  • 2019
  • 8/10

Bandcamp

I will preface this review with the fact that I enjoy melodic black metal and typically can’t stand symphonic metal of any kind. But this self recorded and self released solo project is winning me over with the symphonic aspect, it’s a lot darker than it’s typically arranged. It’s an interesting little detour away from all of the bigger bands and promo spamming of shows. It’s more about the project it’s self, the craftsmanship and hobby.

The cover art is done by Clayshaper – Instagram – who is a Swedish based metal artist of various mediums. He does stuff musically and visually that’s just rad, check it out. I love how it fuses the elements of late 1800’s/early 1900s photography and eldritch horror, fits the record perfectly. There’s a nice smear effect blending it together at the bottom and I love the head being consumed my the dark cloud that also acts as framing. Very cool stuff.

Regardless of the score I give Insight, Solus has done a bloody good job at making this debut LP independently, with this level of musicianship and composition. I was able to speak to him a bit about via his instagram after I approached him thinking it was a full on ensemble of musicians. He talked a bit about being unsigned: “I have basically been doing this just as a hobby as i enjoy making music. And as it is now I’m quite happy being unsigned since it allows me to work in my own comfortable pace. I have a slow work pace and being a solo project i want to take my time to make it as good as I can“.

Lyrically and thematically it’s close in presentation to a Cradle Of Filth but It feels more abyssal than fancy. There’s a doom to it at times and it’s the right atmosphere for the subject matter. I won’t go into too much detail about the lyrics, you can read them if you’re a fan of Lovecraft and want to follow the referenced story lines. They’re on the bandcamp which is always great to see. A lot of it I covered already in my review of Paradox by Nocturnus AD yesterday, with their being references to the same stories. I’m certainly not complaining. Solus has adapted the stories into well written lyrics that communicate differently across the tracks, often finding a really good rhythms or techniques. At times it treads on familiar territories in a lot of ways but carries that alternative signature of a solo black metal band which always appeals to me. Much like Mork.

 

At the heart of Insight is a level of nerdom that I always love in black metal, exploring inspirations like Lovecraft and Warhammer 40k. Two universes with a lot of theatrical potential with their epic stories of cosmic battles and giant creatures, something I think Solus does really well. That nerdom is also present in the practice of self recording and engineering: “I have been working on this album for just over a year and recording and mixing took about 5 months. So basically its just been a lot of patience and alot of YouTube guides to help mix it. I also have a friend who is very knowledgeable about recording/mixing which I have been able to ask for guidance at times

I think any future work he does is going to show some great improvements from this experience. There were a lot of small moments throughout that I found really engaging with the violin and other instruments having their moments to shine. Hunger, Lust, Desire has an awesome moment where there’s these deep brass trumpets accompanying a heavy riff. There’s enough time allocated to the individual parts that brings a sense of harmony during the softer parts. The muddiness of the heavier parts were hit and miss depending on the track, a couple of which were weaker tracks but you know, same deal with any regular band releasing a debut LP. There’s also a nice tone selection for the guitar solos, it really popped in the mix.

There’s a lot to appreciate when it presents it’s self in peak form. The digital placement of it all is impressive: “I have been spending quite alot of time orchestrating the songs. Originally there was no plans for any orchestra but with the purchase of Komplete 12 I tried out some MIDI strings and I knew it was going to be orchestral then. After that I bought Symphony essentials from Native Instruments”, “The choir is Soundirons Olympus Elements.

If you know someone who’d appreciate this then send it to them because really the only barrier here is the demand for the genre not really being present in 2019 as far as I can tell. Perhaps my scope isn’t as wide as it could be. Overall this is a solid addition to my collection of nerdy esoterically themed music.

 

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