Without a doubt, it has been a standout year for traditional heavy metal with quality release after quality release across a wide variety of styles. Epic doom metal in particular has seen a few stand out releases with strong albums already out from bands like Smoulder, Monasterium, and Altar of Oblivion. With official releases just a few days away from big names like Crypt Sermon and Atlantean Kodex, the year is looking to finish incredibly strong. However, in the excitement for these monumental records, people are forgetting Capilla Ardiente, whose sophomore album titled The Siege is also due for release later this week.
Capilla Ardiente’s debut album, Bravery, Truth and the Endless Darkness, demonstrated a young band that clearly had a very solid grasp on what epic doom metal is all about. As with any band that competently plays this style, comparisons are to be drawn with the ever so prolific Candlemass. However, Capilla Ardiente have a penchant for upping the pace and using lead driven, exotic melodies, bringing them closer in line with Solitude Aeturnus. Given vocalist Felipe’s shared duties, I’d be remiss not to mention fellow Chilean doom masters Procession, whose mid-paced and epic style comes very close to Capilla Ardiente. Despite a number of similar bands, Capilla Ardiente still manage to distinguish themselves and carve out their own identity. This was true for their debut album and The Siege represents the next stage evolution and continuation of that.
Overall, The Siege is an exercise in ambitious songwriting. With just four songs that span 45 minutes, each track averages over 10 minutes in length. Very few bands can pull this off well without sounding dull and repetitive, but Capilla Ardiente manage to do just that. Although the songs are quite long, they certainly don’t feel like it. Riffs and motifs are repeated throughout each track, but you can never tell exactly where the song is going next. There’s a ton of variety throughout the album with a nice mix of paces, melodies, rhythm, and acoustic sections.
The rhythm section, often the most overlooked piece of a metal album, is perhaps the most important piece of The Siege. Thunderous. Massive. Overwhelming. There’s just no other way to describe it. The bass is turned up in the mix and when combined with the warm production, it’s propelled to the forefront where it drives the album. The bass lines are active and don’t always follow the guitars or drums, giving the instrument plenty of room to add its own flair. The drums work in conjunction with the lively bass to help drive the album forward. There’s a healthy number of drum fills throughout The Siege that work in tandem with a constant barrage of double bass to round out the album’s low end. It all comes together for The Siege.
Solitude Aeternus’s Beyond the Crimson Horizon is an inimitable masterpiece, a crown jewel of epic doom metal that represents the genre’s pinnacle. It will never be replicated, but The Siege is perhaps the closest a young band will get. I have a feeling when all is set and done, Capilla Ardiente’s sophomore album will be looked back on as one of the finest doom metal releases in the modern era.
Album Rating: 92/100
Favorite track: The Open Arms, the Open Wounds
Official release date: September 13th, 2019 by High Roller Records