Have you ever been given a nice chunk of 18K rose gold that’s been rendered into a beautiful shine and made ready for you to temper and bend into whatever hellish shapes you see fit only to have set it above your overly hot fire (let’s assume the temperature snuck up well over 400 degrees Fahrenheit), whilst you run off to take a phone call from a family member and return to find your gold has turned to ash? Personally, I hate that. It’s been one of my biggest pet peeves and clearly an impediment to my burgeoning gold business.
Apparently, Apostle of Solitude embraces that destructive transformation from precious metal to ash (which, interestingly, makes a very great fertilizer). So, it can be said that Apostle of Solitude is a band of farmers interested in satisfaction with what their hands have sowed; blessed are they because the food of theirs rests in the bellies of others. After all, “food costs money and kids gotta eat something, if a farmer’s work is honest the contribution won’t be unnoticed.”
Across From Gold to Ash there is little change in pacing. Rather, the album is plodding, middlingly-paced affair conducive to head-nods and light foot taps. The album begins strong, “Ruination Be Thy Name” mimicking the success of “Blackes of Times” (fellow second track off Of Woe and Wounds). Opening with a full stomp rhythm, accompanied by a thick, mundae riff it’s a perfect opener. A brief but effective guitar solo helps break the monotony of the six-and-a half-minute tune. The vocals are what carries the tune, using memorable, infectious harmonies that are singable even if you don’t know, or care about, the actual lyrics.
Following the absolute banger is a morose interlude, “Autumn Moon.” As an interlude it adds little to the mix aside from a brief respite from the actual grooves and the things that Apostle of Solitude does best. Fortunately, as the feedback overshadows the clean guitar, “Keeping the Lighthouse” provides another solid take on doom slowing down the grooves and distilling them from thicker chords to single note riffs (pulling from the Pallbearer toolkit). In fact, even the vocal affectations take on a quality reminiscent of Sorrow & Extinction. Not to say that Apostle of Solitude isn’t something entirely their own, they merely live in a genre oversaturated with mediocre bands pumping out mediocre and forgettable doom (albeit often with very pretty album covers).
As the album grinds on from groove to melancholy groove, the pace slows eventually culminating in a nearly eight minute closer, “Grey Farewell,” that tugs at the heart-strings. But before calling it quits, the ten-minute “My Heart is Leaving Here” burrows a hole into your lower intestine and sets off a slow-release M-80 leaving your soul mired in a morose cloud thick as molasses. And that’s just the beginning of the doom sundae as “Monochrome (Discontent)” will take you to Warning levels of emotional fatigue.
Immediately infectious, you’ll be singing Apostle of Solitude tracks in less time than it takes for them to pour themselves out of their speakers and into your ear holes, past the hookworms and into the deep recesses of your opioid-riddled brain. In a genre weighed down like an anvil with mediocrity, Apostle of Solitude certainly rise above the countless acts drowning in the muck, unable to get out of their own way as the pendulum swings through the pic reaching ever closer to their vitals. It’s probably the reason a label with the discriminating taste, cajones and reputation of Cruz Del Sur decided to look their way. While From Gold to Ash could be two tracks longer, it’s a banging ride to be thoroughly enjoyed by beards and non-beards alike.