By Sean Palmerston
One of the most talked about doom metal debuts of the past decade was Sincerest Misery, the first offering by Indianapolis IN’s Apostle Of Solitude. Available only as import from Germany’s Eyes Like Snow label, the album missed general acceptance in the North American scene because of its mailorder-only availability, but those in the know knew that it was one hell of a kick off point for this new band.
For those of you unfamiliar let me bring you up to speed somewhat: AOS front man Chuck Brown used to keep time for fellow Indy doomsters The Gates Of Slumber but when he bid that band adieu he started AOS as a means to release his own songs. It’s a decision that I for one am ecstatic about, as Brown and band have now released two kick-ass slabs o’ doom that need to be heard. No, not heard, they need to be consumed from start to finish as one complete piece, because these aren’t simple ear candy throwaway records.
Last Sunrise is a challenging album. It’s not something that will come to you first listen. It, like many of the best albums released by clear singing, true doom bands (think Solitude Aeturnus, Candlemass, Isole) is an album that needs a few solid run throughs(preferably by headphones) to fully let it sink in. That may have as much to do with the lyrical content as it does with the music itself. The lyrics aren’t written in story form, they are far more ambiguous than that although most do tend to seem to be written to someone instead of at someone. Maybe veiled messages are being sent here by Brown? It’s hard to say without actually speaking to the band about their meaning, but when they include lines such as “You don’t know the tortures of the damned/How I long to be with you in hell I am” it implies that they are indeed directed towards a certain someone or a group of people. Dungeons and Dragons fantasy bullshit this is not, although there’s nothing wrong with that in the right context too.
Another thing that needs to be mentioned about Last Sunrise is the variation in its instrumentation. Unlike most doom bands, AoS shows some distinct differences in what they are willing to put into their music. Take the album’s sixth track, “December Drives Me To Tears”, as an example. The song steers clearly away from the bludgeoning heaviness that most doom is known for. The guitars are partially clean, especially on the track’s first half, which features some beautiful piano playing which underlines the song’s verses and makes it one of the album’s absolute standout tracks. I don’t know if the band would consider touring with some kind of piano just to play this song live, but I would love to hear them tear this one off in concert.
With Last Sunrise being the first AoS album to be released domestically in North America, Profound Lore asked the band to record a few bonus tracks that were exclusive to the release on this side of the pond. The band banged off three covers, all recorded by current Gates of Slumber drummer “Iron” Bob Fouts and tacked onto the end of the album proper. The band tackle songs by The Obsessed (“Street Side”), Born Against (“Mary and Child”) and the Misfits (“Astro Zombies”) that again show this band isn’t a one-trick pony. They do early US hardcore as well as they do doom and give one more reason why this album really is a must have. One of the best so far in 2010, hands down, doom enthusiasts need this in their collection. My only concern about it – what’s with the bizarre front cover?