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Eye Of Solitude : Collapse/Darkness (Split with Marche Funèbre)

Possibly best considered as an introductory package to both bands, this split gives a showcase to their capabilities and styles.

Okay - splits. Never my favourite format: they're a pain to tag correctly and even more of a pain to file in a physical collection. But they are a valid way of combining costs, exposure, labelmates or whatever, so we're kinda stuck with them. In this case, it's a release in support of the joint US tour between UK-based Funeral Doomsters Eye Of Solitude and Belgian Death/Doom band Marche Funèbre, so at least there's an obvious rationale and justification behind it (which also explains the simultaneous re-release of Marche Funèbre's last full-length 'Into The Arms Of Darkness').

I'll also add that as a pro-label release, the 6-panel digi format is a tidy and nice-to-have presentation (asuming you can figure out where to file it in your CD shelves). Not too fancy, but it gives you all the essentials, plus the lyrics, to mull over during the half-hour runtime, divided almost perfectly equally between the two tracks, both new for this recording.

Eye Of Solitude open proceedings with a spacious and atmospheric piece that steadily unfolds in a drifting Clouds-like fashion. The simple and elegant introduction of wordless clean voice and gentle guitar builds to a chugging Funeral riff-driven section, after which elements of the two themes alternate on their way to a frail solo piano outro. And if that description sounds somewhat familiar, well, it is. Of late, it seems Daniel N.'s projects, including the aforementioned bands, have all been converging towards that same sound. Which, if I'm honest - lush, emotive, heartstring-tugging and beautifully presented as it undeniably is - has a gratingly obvious inbuilt limitation. It's music that so rigidly adheres to an achingly lovely expression of grief and sorrow that there isn't much room for manouevre or interpretation: at some point, it's almost inevitable one of the releases in that vein will perfectly voice your own feelings of the time, perhaps even become part of the soundtrack of your own life - and equally inevitable that, however technically, perfectly similar the others are, they'll lack that special bond. Where 'Dear Insanity' and 'Doliu' were special, secret treasures - like a winding trail to a dark and hidden forest glade - a fistful of follow-up pieces in such similar vein seem more like a well-travelled drive to a woodland picnic area car-park full of tourists. If you've never heard EOS or Clouds before, 'Collapse' may become your perfect delight: if you have, it's a fairly luke-warm reheating of a once-fresh formula.

Fortunately, there's more sparkle in Marche Funèbre's 'Darkness', another of their periodic ventures in turning classic poetry into rolling thunder. The big difference being that although the band has an equally distinctive sound, it isn't one that adheres to any particular strictures, preferring to forge a rather wilful mix of Black, Death and Metal influences into a complete, often quite progressive, structure. Byron's poem was written in 1816 - the 'Year Without A Summer', when volcanic ash clouded the skies and a complete solar eclipse led to predictions of the imminent death of the sun - and its theme of the extinction of all life on earth is fertile material for a Doom exploration. Though it could be tackled with the remorseless inevitability of, say, Worship's 'Terranean Wake', Marche Funèbre opt for a more cataclysmic and in-your-face approach, with swirling, turbulent waves of riffs sweeping one after another, relenting only at the very end before darkness finally swallows the universe. They may have to go into that good night, but it doesn't have to be gentle. Occasional oddly-accented phrasing aside, I reckon Byron would be pleased with the raucous, dynamic results - he was, after all, pretty much a headbanging rock'n'roll hellraiser himself. And even if he wouldn't, I am.

Whilst you may see this as a package aimed at completionists, in actual fact it's probably better as an introduction point to both bands. There's enough meat on it, with the two long tracks - each quite typically representative of the bands' differing styles - that you could certainly pick up on whether you'd want to investigate their catalogue further. So, if it's primarily about helping break into the US market, I'd call that job done. For us Europeans, it is a little more nuanced whether you'd need it, but I'd certainly give it a net 'worth investigation'. I do feel a little guilty about criticising EOS, given how beautifully-formed their offering actually is. But, nonetheless, I stuck on the awesome diverse and multi-dimensional territories of 'Canto III' earlier, and, really - Clouds already do a perfectly good job of sounding like Clouds. EOS certainly don't have to bind themselves to the same restrictions, and I really hope this will mark the end of the singles, splits and shorts that have, perhaps unrepresentatively, taken their recent output in that direction. Probably needless to add, but this is most definitely going to be filed under "M", and it's not one of those where I feel it's worth buying a second copy to stick under "E"...

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Reviewer's rating: 7/10


Tracklist :
Eye Of Solitude
1. Collapse
Marche Funèbre
2. Darkness

Visit the Marche Funèbre bandpage.

Duration : Approx. 30 minutes

Visit the Eye Of Solitude bandpage.

Reviewed on 2018-03-03 by Mike Liassides
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