Written by: Lord Hsrah
This year has brought us doom metal in bunches and numbers so far, and there's much more to come. Different people feel things in different ways, and this impacts their way of translating it into art--music, more specifically. We associate doom metal with a variety of feelings and emotions, which are invoked by the myriad of different forms they are offered by different bands. But with Poema Arcanvs, it's a different ball game altogether, as they bring forth a slamming, crushing and heavy slab of doom that's an abstraction of its own. Ladies and gents, I present to you: Stardust Solitude!
Long standing flagbearers of Chilean doom metal, Poema Arcanvs (pronounced 'arcanus') have acquired a legendary status over the years, having churned out impressive albums, one after the other since their inception in the early 90s. Their sixth offering, Stardust Solitude, is the next in line to be branded with the Poema Arcanvs stamp, and let me tell you, it's an absolute juggernaut! Drawing inspiration from the early works of the famous Peaceville Three (that's My Dying Bride, Anathema, and Paradise Lost for those who don't know) among others, and blending in their own style to create a monstrous fusion of exquisite doom, Stardust Solitude is tailor-made to be this sonic powerhouse whose sole purpose is to beat down on your ears as your brain ejaculates litres of serotonin and adrenaline in your body!
The quartet of Claudio Carrasco (Vocals), Juan Diaz (Bass), Igor Leiva (Guitars) and Luis Moya (Drums) really put out eight solid tracks for the album, and the best part is that all eight of them are stellar manifestations of different styles of doom. And although they are "different," they are ultimately of the same breed of frequencies that are interwoven and tell a sludgy, grimy story of their own. The way the guitars sound through every section and as the passages change, the distorted & fuzzy bass that rumbles like a monolithic steam engine, the pounding drums and the chaotic blend of death grunts & soaring clean vocals, are superbly complemented by the top quality production that's gone into the album.
Stardust Solitude opens with an absolute bastard of a 9-minute title track that starts off a bit slow, with a short clean passage, and then out of nowhere, without warning, that sick riff hits you like a bag of bricks straight to your head! And before you're allowed to recuperate from this sudden assault, the riffs keep on coming, and boy, do they keep on coming! The track bursts with energy, with the steaming dynamicity of the drums, and Carrasco's death growls coupled with the amazing cleans--which remind me of Solitude Aeturnus' Rob Lowe so much--blare out of his fine tuned & seasoned powerful pipes. The feels as the "staaaaarrrduust" chants in the chorus on top of the riff playing behind are just one of the high points that you'll hear throughout the album. Igor Leiva's guitar playing is immensely commendable, because very few doom metal albums can be constructed with so many changing dynamics without the listener lose his/her link; multiple breaks, digressing & converging passages, and immaculately written solo sections are served on a large platter. The album is captivating and abosrbs you in, the more you go into it. Later tracks like "The Lighthouse Keeper" and "Straits of Devotion" are two of my favorite ones off the album that have left a crawling earworm. The former is a melodic yet a very harsh encounter. while the latter is an absolute groovy and riffy headbanger!
The overall album is an amalgamation of different riff styles and different arrangements, all adopted from different bands and their influences. There's a bit of funeral doom, death/doom, the more ambient side, the sludge; there are the chuggy riffs, the sparse-distorted-picked riffs, the really groovy ones, and the strummed ones all blended with some clean sections here and there. As the album goes on, you're introduced to a totally new facet of the songs. One of my most favorite things are Diaz's distorted basslines that hold the rhythm so well and break your auditory spine at the same time--it's a refreshing feeling not only being able to hear the bass in modern metal but also be equipped with the knowledge that it's some fine ass bass playing!
What I would like to point out is the fact that the songs can get a bit too fast, the compositions at times are ugly and the arrangements a bit too muddy for my liking. The styles and influences may be varying--and hats off to them for this ambitious effort that's pulled off so well--but the structures can get a bit monotonous and derivative. Stardust Solitude is a brilliant yet harsh and mean album start to end. It is, by no means, a goody-two-shoes melodic album; it's just pure, dirty, sludgy, doomy business, and if you like your doom to be a bit on the heavier side, you'll get what you pay for.
Poema Arcanvs - Stardust Solitude will be released Aug. 28th, 2020 from Transcending Obscurity Records. Preorder here.
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!