BY MICHAEL TOLAND
After spending a couple of records in thrall to Mercyful Fate and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, occult metal quintet In Solitude takes a different road on its third LP Sister. What direction that is, exactly, seems still to be determined. Apparently hellbent (pun intended) on no longer sounding like King Diamond and co.’s greatest acolytes, the Swedish band folds strains of 70s hard rock, mournful doom and straight-up rock & roll into its anthemic devil metal stew.
The ragged hybrid results in rockers like “Horses in the Ground,” “Pallid Hands” and “Death Knows Where” that roar aggressively forward without that familiar NWOBHM gallop, as well as less pounding but no less powerful anthems like “A Buried Sun” and the title track. The group also finds room for the roiling epic “Inmost Nigredo” and the ghostly acoustic hymn “He Comes.” The loose arrangements boldly sacrifice precision for feel, and if singer Pelle Ahman sometimes sounds as if he’s fighting for his place in the mix, it gives his vocals a bawling passion they didn’t have before.
Occasionally the music sounds like it’s not quite fully formed, but there’s an energy to this ¾-baked confection that still foments excitement. A transitional record, then, one that seems to be leading to a masterstroke.
DOWNLOAD: “Sister,” “Death Knows Where,” “Pallid Hands”