While Sweden has Candlemass, America will always have Solitude Aeturnus when it comes to stately, tradition-minded doom metal. Spearheaded by lifelong doom freak and driving creative force John Perez on guitar and the iconic, soaring voice of frontman Robert Lowe, Solitude Aeturnus first emerged from the sweltering Texas underground in the early 90s, releasing a double dose of slow motion metal decadence with their Into the Depths of Sorrow and Beyond the Crimson Horizon LPs in ’91 and ’92, respectively.
It was 1994′s Through the Darkest Hour which cemented the band’s status as America’s true doom frontrunner, perfectly capturing Perez’s classic metal tone and Lowe’s pained, passionate howl. Expertly melding the art of dirge with British metal grace-the holy trinity of Sabbath, Maiden and Priest of course-Through the Darkest Hour was an album full of highlights, showcasing the band at their compositional and musical peak.
While both of the band’s early effort contained strong songwriting of their own-”Transcending Sentinels” from Into the Depths of Sorrow serving as a particular early highlight-the force of Through the Darkest Hour hit the metal scene like a ton of bricks, sounding even more brave when placed ‘gainst the onslaught of brutal death metal bands then ruling the indie roost. During a time when genre forebears like Trouble remained cult icons and contemporaries Confessor were plying their similarly ‘difficult’ tunes towards death fans tired of thrash, Solitude Aeturnus stuck to their guns and never quit their doom metal dream.
Since then, the band has become a cult favorite amongst the traditionally minded faithful, even though true commercial success has still eluded the notoriously stage shy group, for whom long term touring never became a habit. This relative inactivity actually led Lowe to join Candlemass for their 2007 King of the Grey Islands release as frontman, replacing the (again) departed singer Messiah Marcolin, a position Lowe retains to this day.
Playing double duty, Lowe and Solitude A. remain a firm metal force-albeit in a stilted form-releasing the epic Alone LP in 2006, as well as a demo/rarities compilation this past year. With psych, stoner and death doom achieving relative prominence these days amongst the hipster set, it seems unlikely that the back catalog of Solitude Aeturnus will reach similar heights of popularity…but hey, you never know!