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Left Hand Solution - Dead Of Winter (2021) - Review

Band: Left Hand Solution
Album title: Dead Of Winter
Release date: 16 April 2021
Label: Massproduktion (Sweden)/Playground Music
Genre: Doom Metal

01. First Day Of Winter
02. The Sleeping Dead
03. Jolene (Dolly Parton cover)
04. For The Hallowed Blood
05. Flame Of Desire
06. When The Reason Is Gone

Who of you remembers the stunning and genre-defining album Fevered from 1996? It was one of the first doom metal albums to incorporate full female vocals but unfortunately overlooked by many. And what about the band who released it? The Swedish four-piece named Left Hand Solution formed back in 1991 and between 1992 and 2001 released two albums, a couple of demos, EPs, singles and were featured on some important compilations. They went into a long time hiatus in 2001, right after releasing a rather bland (still good though) album Light Shines Black. As a surprise, they returned in the same line-up in 2019 with an amazing comeback album Through The Mourning Woods. It seems that the right energy must be flowing for the Swedes, and now, two years after their glorious return they are back with another astonishing release, maybe their best ever - Dead Of Winter.

I don't know if Dead Of Winter is meant as a proper full-length album or an EP, similar to its predecessor it consists of six songs, but this one is a bit shorter with 29 minutes of playtime. Ok, it doesn't really matter, because Left Hand Solution offers one of the most intriguing doom rides released lately. The band wants to experiment, they have matured, they want to be innovative, but to be honest, it isn't groundbreaking like their monument Fevered. Keeping the traditional ways of doom & gloom untouched, the band adds several new influences into their already remarkable sound. Let it be for some cinematic parts, country, blues, folk, a bit of goth, the 60s, 70s, 80s, and yet much more, but everything smoothly incorporated into one sonic doomed mass, with massive riffs dictating all the way through. What makes Left Hand Solution special is like always the combination of heavy riffs, captivating dark melodies, and Mariana Frykman’s unique, deep, dark and beautiful voice, which is even better now than it was 25 years ago.

The opener "First Day Of Winter" is a strong, haunting and dense doom piece with massive riffs. It is an exceptional dark track and the use of ambient cinematic additions together with a mournful flute adds another dimension of darkness to it. As well the use of deep guttural male back vocals does its part and makes it even heavier. "The Sleeping Dead" is a groovy riff leaden doom piece with catchy vocal melodies and some nice old school heavy metal guitars. One of the most surprising and beautiful things on this release is the cover of Dolly Parton's "Jolene", a song that was originally released back in 1974. Mariana's voice is exceptional here, and she sounds like a darker, metallic version of Cher, Tina Turner or Toni Braxton, and the vocoded part is a nice try in making it more dynamic. "For The Hallowed Blood" is an agitating piece that adds some jazzy vibes to the massive rhythms with the bold use of saxophone. "Flame Of Desire" is a mesmerizing acoustic piece that could be labelled as country/doom. This one reminds me a bit of Me And That Man or Rome, but it's also clear that the band is influenced by Samhain, Danzig, Black Sabbath of course, and Nick Cave. The album ends with the almost epic "When The Reason Is Gone", a poignant and lush song that unites the elements of their early days with solemn gothic majestic melancholy. It brings in mind My Dying Bride because of the use of violin and due to the unconventional song structure.

Left Hand Solution are back in full power. With massive enthralling songs, deep haunting dark atmospheric sound, one of a kind thrilling female vocals, strong and rampant bass lines, thick rhythmic line, it's smelling old-school but at the same time, it sounds fresh. Dead Of Winter is a must for every fan of doom music, but it can also be a message to many generic doom bands, that doom metal is one of the genres that allows a lot of experimentation while still being kept inside the borders. If you are new to Left Hand Solution then this highly addictive doom extravaganza and enjoyable release might be a good start, and I strongly suggest you check out their entire discography, they deserve it and you might find out a new band to worship.

The review was written by Tomaz
Rating: 8,5/10