In Solitude have always been more than just a Swedish heavy metal band. The Uppsala quintet, notorious for revelling in the occult, have also dabbled in music since their early teens. Now in their twenties, they have naturally matured; no longer baby-faced metal fanatics but grown men with their own brand of mystical heavy metal to offer up to the world like a sacrifice.
Daniel Bay, an unknown solo artist with one demo to his name, takes to the stage – an unusual choice for support, to say the least. His lone figure and acoustic guitar is enough to rouse the interest of the crowd. Screeching and crooning through successions of progressive chords, his performance may be cathartic to some but it has others muttering incoherently and edging toward the bar.
A post-punk ensemble with baritone vocals and lyrics frequently alluding to apocalypse and death, Beastmilk are essentially a contemporary Finnish version of Joy Division. What they seamlessly provide is a positive, mock-upbeat energy – their hyperactive lead guitarist meanwhile threatens injury to the front row by violently swinging his guitar perilously close to eager faces.
As Beastmilk remove a menagerie of bizarre props from the stage, one of In Solitude’s entourage commences an elaborate set-up. Soon, the air is hazy with the scent of white petals and smouldering incense. Sister Irene O’Connor’s ‘Fire of God’s Love’ echoes throughout the tiny venue, while we wait in anticipation, in pitch darkness.
‘Death Knows Where’ from the critically-acclaimed third album Sister marks the beginning of a haunting ten-song set. Their cover of Cortex’s ‘Jesus I Belong’ goes down well, though eloquent Swedish lyrics are not ones that the Scots can easily bawl back.
And through bouts of resounding ethereal feedback, frontman Pelle converses amiably with the audience, regarding us as dear acquaintances, yet his dulcet tones are cryptic.
Concluding their set with ‘He Comes’, In Solitude revive the remnants of their near-spent vigour and in a cloud of long hair, lily carcasses and smoke, they once again demonstrate exactly why they are so revered in the realm of Scandinavian heavy metal – ringing guitar riffs, melodic yet thunderous bass, powerful and lingering vocals and devastatingly understated drums.
Not a band for encores, In Solitude disappear with gracious words of thanks and majestic bows. They are intelligent enough to leave the crowd thirsty for more – but not parched of quality music.