Sunday, May 6, 2012

The World. The Flesh. The Devil. - In Solitude - 2011

I'm just about a year behind in my acquisition of In Solitude's The World. The Flesh. The Devil. And, about a year ago, I was a few months behind enjoying Ghost's Opus Eponymous. It's just as well, I suppose. Like the Ghost record, In Solitude's second full-length is full-on throwback and, side-by-side, it would have easily been lost in Opus Eponymous' long shadow. While The World. The Flesh. The Devil. is certainly less original and inspiring than Ghost's debut, it's still fun, drenched in NWOBHM sounds and bringing the that classic Nordic aesthetic that demands a Mercyful Fate comparison, but it never quite attains a-hell-of-a-lot-of-fun-ness. In fact, even a year removed, it's easily absorbed not only by the accomplishments of Ghost, but by its own influences as well.

First, the positives, though. I am struck overall by the clarity of the dual-guitars of Henrik Palm and Nikolas Lindström. There's a big sound, to be sure, but each retain a distinct identity throughout in a manner that immediately recalls the classic, celebrated pairings in Priest and Maiden. Vocalist Hornper (aka Pelle Åhman) won't be challenging the reign of King Diamond any time soon (nor Papa Emeritus, for that matter, unless, of course, he is Papa Emeritus...) but he certainly delivers in a mode appropriate for the band's approach. The rhythm section gallops throughout but, ultimately, The World. The Flesh. The Devil. is all about riffs and leads. And, in this respect, it delivers over and over and over...

...and it's here, if anywhere, that In Solitude underwhelm. The songs all offer plenty (all but two exceeding six minutes) and too seldom does the listener come away with anything particularly memorable. As much as In Solitude have downplayed the comparisons with their obvious influences in the press, The World. The Flesh. The Devil. amounts to little more than a fairly successful pastiche of the essence of early 80's genre classics like Melissa or Piece of Mind. It's a really enjoyable record in the present, while it spins, but there's precious little memorable material to carry away in the soul afterward. In Solitude stomp all over the classic metal battlefields but rarely approach the fringes, stretching out only on the album's epically-long 14-minute closer, "On Burning Paths." It's here that they approach something great. Or, in the least, something that reminds the listener of, well, what was great in 1983.

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