Lately, plenty of young bands have taken a stab at trying to relive the glory days of heavy metal and while some are very good at what they do, Sweden’s In Solitude are the only band that could really compete with the gods. I was already a fan when I got a hold of their self-titled debut but their latest opus, The World. The Flesh. The Devil. has proven to me that they are the best band of the past 10 years. This album has been out for a few months but I’m reviewing it now because it’s one of those records that only gets better with each listen. Rather than spitting out a disappointing sophomore, In Solitude have delivered a masterpiece of occult heavy metal!

Musically, influences from Mercyful Fate and Iron Maiden can be heard. The occult atmosphere on this album also reminds me of Master’s Hammer but it should be noted that In Solitude doesn’t copy these bands by the book. The band utilizes their influences to create a sound that is uniquely their own. While their debut was somewhat straightforward in it’s songwriting, The World. The Flesh. The Devil. takes everything to new musical heights. The songs are longer with more epic arrangements and darker atmosphere. Compared to most retro-metal, In Solitude’s songwriting is far more imaginative without letting go of their classic metal heritage. All of these songs have great riff and tempo changes as well as interesting passages that flow very well in the songs. The use of acoustic guitars in these songs are a very nice touch, making the music all the more mystical. While every song stands out, the one that sticks out the most is “To Her Darkness” which may very well be the best metal song of 2011. It is a mid paced track that is as melodic as it is gripping with power, loaded with great choruses, galloping riffs, brilliant instrumentation and an awe-inspiring guitar solo.

The musicianship on this album is as tight as a nun’s joy trail. Both drummer Uno Bruniusson and bassist Gottfrid Åhman make for a thundering rhythm section. The drumming is killer and sometimes carries a more extreme edge to the music while still retaining a traditional approach. The bass playing is very well done and is actually audible (unlike a lot of other albums). Åhman isn’t always following the guitar and adds his own dimension to the music, as any great bass player should. Vocalist Hornper delivers a very haunting performance that matches the music perfectly. His voice has a very somber feel and has similarities to King Diamond’s mid-range vocals. The guitar duo of Niklas Lindström and Henrik Palm display some of the most memorable guitar work in recent times. Their leads have so much soul and are rich with melody. It’s great to see some folks that take the time to put some fuckin’ emotion in their solo’s rather than just shit out a bunch of mindless shredding.

The World. The Flesh. The Devil. is a modern day masterpiece. While some bands simply rehash what’s been done in the past, In Solitude push forward while sticking to a vintage sound with all it’s authenticity and conviction in place. Bands like this are a rarity these days and deserve all the support in the world. Anyone looking for an inspired, dark heavy metal record, look no further!