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Review: Apostle of Solitude - Sincerest Misery
Apostle of Solitude
Sincerest Misery

Label: Northern Silence Productions
Year released: 2008
Duration: 70:47
Tracks: 9
Genre: Doom Metal

Rating: 5/5

Review online: May 16, 2009
Reviewed by: Cluedo
Readers Rating
Sincerest Misery

Rated 2.83/5 (56.67%) (6 Votes)

While firmly rooted in the traditions of Doom, Apostle Of Solitude do not necessarily wear their influences on their sleeve. On their debut album, disparate elements from bands ranging from Black Sabbath and Electric Wizard to Grief and Slow Horse crop up occasionally, but AoS have smoothed over the inconsistencies to fit within a sound very much their own. Cohesiveness and dynamics are perhaps the band's greatest strengths. They're not just ‘tight'; this band is founded on chemistry, each member playing off the other rather than over.

Corey Webb is a rare man who understands his drum set, never privileging just one component. He steers clear of predictability and has an uncanny knack to hit the right instrument at the right moment to accentuate the band's melodic section. His cymbal work during the bridge of "Last Tears" fuses with Brent McClellan's thunderously rumbling bassline to provide the backbone for the album's most rollickingly rifftastic number. First heard on the band's Embraced by the Black EP, it coheres through the back-and-forth giving-and-taking between the band members, with Justin Avery's and Chuck Brown's twin leads at the forefront, with every cymbal crash and thundering bass note emphasizing the emotional waves articulated by the guitar work. And this concept of complementing and stressing another member's own contribution is consistent throughout the CD whether it is the tradeoff of effects laden riff to clean lick on "The Dark Tower," to Brown's possessed screams as "Warbird" reaches its crescendo.

The album itself is organized carefully to avoid monotony. The "rockers" ("The Messenger" and the aforementioned "Last Tears") bookend what would have been a cassette's Side A, while slower meditative numbers ("Confess" and "A Slow Suicide") sandwich the first of two very different instrumentals. "The Dark Tower" revolves around a playfully brooding medieval-inspired riff that torments the listener into expecting it to break out into a full-on Doom juggernaut at the end of every bar. When the boom is eventually lowered, the change is so subtle it almost goes unnoticed until the return to the opening riff at the very end of the song. The second instrumental kicks off the second half of the album. An echoing apocalyptic ode to the disastrous Dirty Thirties, "This Dustbowl Earth" is led in by Woodie Guthrie's haunting recounting of experiences of the Dust Bowl, winding down a twangy, grimy path of truly primitive American Doom. If there was one criticism to be levied against the album it would be the mixing of this track. I applaud the intention behind this monstrous epic, but during my first few listens the execution of reconciling the differences in volume in the beginning of Guthrie's lecture and the underlying music was jarring, though even this eventually becomes a non-issue after multiple listens.

Before the Sabbath cover (a deliciously divergent take on "Electric Funeral"), AoS' original compositions end with the 14 minute title-track. And with it, the answer to what elevates this album from merely a tightly played slab of Doom to what I feel is actual flirtation with perfection comes to light. The song is a perfect précis of the commonality of the preceding 7 tracks - sincerity. The authenticity in the band's love for music is but one part of the equation which spills over into the album's premise, encapsulated in Brown's soaring tortured howls –

"And I don't care what lies you follow
Or what tales you swallow
I'm only feeling sorrow and pain"

Sincerest Misery is not an angst-ridden whinefest nor is it pseudo-macho posturing. It is a beautiful yet brutal elegy which faces, captures and reacts to the most irrationally overwhelming facets of honest human emotion aroused by the tragic truths of life – absurdity, obsession, loss - for which neither appeals to discourse nor deity can ever soften.

Other related information on the site
Review: From Gold to Ash (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Sincerest Misery (reviewed by Pagan Shadow)
Interview with Corey Webb (drums), Chuck Brown (guitars and vocals), Brent McClellan (bass) and Justin Avery (guitars) on July 14, 2007 (Interviewed by Cluedo)
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