I’m consistently taken aback whenever a new Isole release hits my desk because they seem so weirdly prolific for an epic doom band. Bounty through steady releases is fairly commonplace for bands outside this particular sector, but fans of epic doom learned the harsh lesson of sincere patience during a particularly dormant stretch of years from the late 90s and well into the 00s from the likes of Candlemass, Solitude Aeturnus, Forsaken (MLT), Solstice, While Heaven Wept, Memory Garden and the like. But Isole has delivered a welcomed level of fertility to the genre, and lucky for us, the quality of each subsequent release is exceptionally consistent.
Album number five from this Swedish crew finds them very much in full swing within the classic Isole canon: majestic, towering clean vocals perfectly suit the album’s many epic moments, just as they do its darkly depressed measures; melodic leads snake alongside deeply layered atmospheric keys throughout mellow and harsh bits alike; and the overall mood still expertly balances between gloomy (near gothic) metal and good-ol’-fashioned walloping epic doom.
Each of the band’s releases flash the above ingredients in surplus, with differences bubbling to the surface through subtle (and often not so subtle) refinements to further motley the mix. 2008’s Bliss of Solitude and 2009’s Silent Ruins both flashed cracks of gruff death metal that upped the ante in the heft department, but Born from Shadow‘s overall darker stance and even stronger emphasis on weighty punch makes the occasional death accents that much harsher this go around. Additionally, savory opener, “The Lake,” and the album title track even spring moments of biting blackened metal — certainly something new for longtime fans to chew on.
But things never stray too far from the crux mood that emphasizes Isole‘s firm grip within the epic doom camp. The lamenting ‘While Heaven Wept‘ onset of “Come to Me,” the classic doom slant at the heart of “Black Hours,” the 10-minute+ goth-tinged sprawl of “My Angel,” and the way Born from Shadows closes on an exceedingly dejected note with “When All is Black” — it’s the sort of bereaved, crawling material fans of the band have come to expect from Isole, and it’s once again delivered with an exceedingly proficient hand and production. And while I’d say all the players continue to fire at their peak, a special tip of the hat goes out to Jonas Lindström, who gets my vote for the most underrated and talented drummer in epic doom today.
It’s not easy trying to come up with a pecking order with regard to this band’s discography. Each album stands strong enough on its own, but all take time to fully absorb and appreciate. I could imagine people might have a harder time cozying up to Born from Shadows because of its stronger emphasis on bleak, crawling grimness, but given the proper attention and contemplation, any fan of the band will be dismally gratified to have this record in their collection, particularly with the colder months quickly approaching. Also worth mentioning, those who prefer vinyl releases will be treated to four bonus tracks not available on the CD.