In Solitude — Sister

Swedish band In Solitude have had their fair share of line up changes since they first formed in 2002. It’s to their credit that each has been lived with, and has breathed still further inspiration into, their music; leaving the band strong and producing music that reflects on and leads to an understanding of the cycle of life. That this cycle is before birth, after death, and in no small way repeated constantly through the full breath of all things.

All of these things, and more, are here in their latest album; Sister

‘He Comes’ is a well measured opening track. From its acoustic basics it sets the scene, gives an idea of what is to come, the genre, without being scary to the casual metal head, and drawing in the more gothic elements of the audience. ‘Death Knows Where’ is less well judged, sounding to my ears as if it begins two bars in and what gap there is (between tracks) is *just* the wrong length. After the initial jar it settles in, wiping clean from ones mind the blip at the start, to the effect that it is a surprise on each subsequent replay. ‘Death Knows Where’ develops into something quite lyrical whilst safely being the first heavy/hard track of Sister; and in this it plays its part well, placing the expectations for ‘A Buried Sun’.

It is in ‘A Buried Sun’ that Sister really takes off. It has a story structure that introduces, exposits and then gives space over a sparse driving baseline. From this it builds in instrumentation and pace (the tempo holds steady at around 60/70 bpm throughout) and the track is a operetta all in itself (at 7’22” it is not quite the longest track on what is otherwise quite a short album in these digital times, being of a length more seen on vinyl or original (single layer) CD). Ebb and flow, tides and time.

I came to hear Sister as the summer pulls to a close, the trees outside my window deciding to finally succumb to the signs of autumn, the blood of a mandolin accident refusing to cease in an echo of the bands statement: “This is a feeling that has permeated our whole lives during the latest year of writing and recording this album, as well as digesting and dealing with its consequences. And it has been wonderful, overwhelming and utterly devastating. Which, in the world of In Solitude, are very positive things, and exactly what was required”…. With this ‘Pallid Hands’ and ‘Lavender’ came to hold more depth, wiping out my first run through thoughts of Sister some how being made to be heard on shuffle, and coming to appreciate the structure that In Solitude and producer Martin “Konie” Ehrencrona had chosen and even to see a pattern to it and a reason for it over other possible arrangements.

‘Pallid hands’ takes arpeggio and classical progression from major to minor keys and creates discord and resolution in both melody and the underlying percussion, lead, launching into a series of solo breaks mid track punctuated with specific vocals that go on to add the tiniest of twists and keep our interest throughout. A track that must be listened to, but would make a fantastic piece as accompaniment to another form of performance… The fade out leads straight into ‘Lavender’. Making use of of triple meter and placing the previous track in counterpoint; before moving on to a straighter beat as the vocals of Pelle Åhman are given centre stage. The pair are a glorious opposition for ‘Sister’ which bounces into existence with a more contemporary rock feel than the rest of the album leads you to expect. Again the vocal line takes the focus, with lyrics that tell a tale of hope, and shoves forward the idee fixe to the melody, in a riff that screams out to be sampled.

‘Horses in the Ground’ has pace and verve and carries on the themes set in ‘Sister’. Run together you’d be hard pressed to see a seam. It is the perfect bridging track to final track ‘Inmost Nigredo’. This *is* the longest on the album, a beautiful thing to lie down to and allow In Solitude to whisk you away, if only for as long as it takes for the moka pot to make espresso at the start of the day, as Sister lifts you up and kicks you out into the world.

In all the last words should go to the band:

“You come without. And all falls within. There is a light in the world. There is a stone to the head.”

/Pelle Åhman — on behalf of In Solitude.


Originally published at echoesanddust.com.

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