|If, despite your reasonable doubt, you're still expecting a new album of Solitude Aeturnus, Well of Souls might be a satisfying substitute.|
I have to admit that listening for the first time to 'Sorrow My Name' by the U.S.'s Well of Souls was an unusual experience. Not only did it impress me, but the very idea that it came after other releases, 5 to be precise, hit me like a revelation: this band, Well of Souls, of which I didn't know a thing, proved to have been active since 1999! Having been seriously into Doom Metal for more than a decade, this is some kind of an epiphany: I found myself facing a very talented outfit that has delivered a great new album and I'm quite excited to realize that it's only the beginning of my relationship with them, and that other songs are there within easy reach (I bet, having never bumped into them, that they were confined to the most hardcore spheres scrutinizing every release of that sub-genre – surely, there're people wiser than me out there!). |
There are not many Epic Doom Metal bands in the USA: when looking on Metal Archives, the search engine gives you 8 entries. Considering the size of this country and the number of American bands playing other styles of Doom, this is plain ridiculous. On that list, one name stands out: Solitude Aeturnus, a band shamefully overlooked, which only owes a mild renewed interest due to the featuring of Robert Lowe in Candlemass' latest albums. Well, that name will help me to shape Well of Souls' sound for you, because Solitude Aeturnus' spirit hides behind every chord of 'Sorrow My Name'. And I love that! I love the fact that a new/not-so-well-known band manages to dust off a little this hardly-used comparison, because as far as Epic Doom is concerned, too often, it's Candlemass that serves as the standard to judge the value of a newcomer.
In the kind of lyrical voyage that is an Epic Doom album, if the vocals are weak, the whole building collapses. It is very much more true for that style than say, for Doom Death or Trad Doom, which can get over it and come off unscathed. Vocal-wise, John Calvin gives all he's got, delivering the expected kind of over-the-top lines. His performance isn't particularly exeptional, but it's dripping with sincerity and energy, and if his technique is a bit limited, he can play off his original, lamenting low tone to develop various inflections and modulate his range to fit in and complement the atmosphere.
Without imposing on you a dull track-by-track review, I still have to point out some of the main characteristics of the band: one brilliant one is the basswork; the bass is very audible, galloping along the desperate soundscapes or sensually underlining the most quiet, sometimes mournful, passages. The heroic aspects are sustained by powerful riffs, often working in duet: the two guitars interlacing their crushing lines for a vibrant and dramatic effect. The band is also very good at building up a song, saving its effects to bring a tension (very striking in 'Sanity's Lies'). Well of Souls' writing technique is, for that matter, more about series of pits and peaks rather than a more common regular climbing to an (often disappointing) climax. That kind of progressive songwriting keeps an interesting balance between raging moments and tranquil movements, both being vividly animated by a strong sense of drama - which guarantees very satisfying repeated listens.
My main point of criticism would be a slight monotony that I hear between some of the songs. If each is taken separately, they are strong pieces of music; when put side by side, you notice some similarities in structure. That goes for the vocals too, which could be more versatile – or less prominent/present; as I said to myself more than once that pure instrumental passages could help drawing evocative atmospherics that ultimately would make the compositions richer. But, all in all, the comparison I made with Solitude Aeturnus is nothing for Well of Souls to be ashamed of. The band stands strong on both feet, they know where they're going and they have all that is needed to get to a broad audience – although they might well keep on following in the footsteps of Robert Lowe's band and never enjoy the success they deserve. Well, if so, so be it! Doom is still the most underground Metal genre, isn't it?
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1. Sorrow My Name
3. The Pain's Not Forgotten
4. As I Die
5. Sanity's Lie
6. Ashes of Despair
7. A Dark Soul's Destiny
Duration : Approx: 51 minutes
Visit the Well of Souls bandpage.