I have been keeping a close eye on anything Matthew Bell (aka Solace) releases from his multitude of projects as they are all levels of brilliant and probably my favorite of them all is Forlorn Citadel. This project combines medieval black metal, ambient black metal and dungeon synth all together beautifully and with the release of his debut full length titled Ashen Dirge of Kingslain, this proves to be an epic introduction to Solace’s realm. The use of dark dreary passages, medieval style melodies and slow ambiance that dance through the interwoven riffs tell much of the times when kings were slain and castles were sieged.
The strong points to this debut release lie within the song writing as Solace has laid out each track like chapters in a book. Each part from the riffs he has written to the drum patterns to the ambient breaks and interludes all make sense and add to the story. The vocals straddle the fine line of growl and scream which also fit this sound like glove. Most notably when first taking a listen to this album will be the synths that take lead over every track. The production quality is reminiscent of Burzum’s Filosofem era but a lot more modernized if that makes sense. Tracks like Ancient Keepers of Unending Entombment and Beholden to Griefborn and Veinroot stand out to me the most as they both have such unique sounds apart from each other but flow with the whole album.
Ashen Dirge of Kingslain is a perfect example of a flawless debut release but if anyone has listened to Solace’s other projects, its not hard to believe that this album would be anything less than amazing. If you are a fan of the medieval era, black metal and great song structures, then this is definitely something I suggest you check out. I look forward to what comes next from this project and till then I will have my sword ready to ride out to war!
Overall Score: 10/10
Review by Neil Andersen