Solitude Within – When Kingdoms Fall
Solitude Within is a Belgian Symphonic Metal band formed in 2017. Inspired by a song from Evergrey, there are a lot of Progressive Metal elements to this band, along with some Power and Death Metal influences as well. When Kingdoms Fall is the sophomore effort, initially intended for release in 2021 but delayed by the pandemic, as were so many other projects worldwide. The Symphonic Metal influences range from Within Temptation to Nightwish to Delain, with some Amaranthe and Evanescence mixed in to round out the sound beautifully. Bombastic and epic, this is an album to play on repeat so you can catch all the nuance.
- Emmelie Arents – Lead Vocals/Keyboards
- Jean-Paul Laffargue – Guitars
- Quincy Van Overmeire – Guitars/Grunts
- Fré Delaey – Bass
- Hans Sarazyn – Drums
October 22, 2022
- Beautifully Broken
- Further Away
- When Kingdoms Fall
- I’m Not Lost
- Over And Over
- One Final Wish
- Land Of Disarray
- Ice And Fire
- To The Grave
Sometimes, you hear the musical influences a band has with crystal clarity. Such is the case here. Solitude Within is a mix of Power, Symphonic, Alt, and Nu Metals, including bands like Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Evanescence. You hear it in the backing orchestration, the vocal delivery, and the general compositions. The overall effect on this record is stunning, creating an amalgam of tones and textures that blend beautifully, sparking joy in my old metal heart.
The story here is primarily personal, appearing to venture through a damaged, toxic relationship that is not healthy or sustainable. “Beautifully Broken” opens with a rainstorm and a string section. Percussion joins the strings, the storm intensifies, and the piano comes in with discordant and upbeat tones. The vocals start deep and haunted but become plaintive. We feel the pain behind the broken smiles and smashed dreams by the halfway point. The guitars have an excellent chugging rhythm matched precisely by the drums and bass, giving the song an excellent synchronous feel. The belted lyrics at the end, “that’s alright, it’s a lie,” tell the story within the story; I’m trying to convince myself this can be saved.
“Further Away” sounds like it could be performed by Amy Lee and Evanescence just as easily. The vocals remind me of how Amy delivers a lyric in many ways. Since I love Evanescence, this is a definite compliment! The orchestration on this one is delicate and fits the composition well. The drops where the rhythm disappears, and there is a voice and a keyboard are effective, giving the song extra texture and creating a wider array of sounds to hook the ears.
“When Kingdoms Fall” is an interesting song to me. It has a Symphonic Metal Disney tone to it. It’s a heavy version with a “Snow White” theme, though here, the mirror is not magic; in fact, it cannot tell you anything that is going on under the surface. The intro is quite lovely, and I love it when everything but the vocals and cello drops out and goes ambient. The anger comes back in with a tasty guitar riff, and the song then wavers between dark symphonic and guitar-driven. This song is a masterpiece of tones and textures, incorporating light and heavy, symphonic and metal, and dark and ethereal.
Next is “I’m Not Lost,” another song I hear Evanescence throughout, both in vocals and some of the guitar work. The guitar solo is almost a classic Heavy Metal shredder, with a killer tone and pace. The piano interludes and vocal delivery are so well done, and that is where I hear the outside influence the most. This is another example of how well Solitude Within moves back and forth from melodic to heavy, ambient to powerful.
It is tough to escape toxic people and relationships. “Over And Over” is a lyrical representation of that. I’ve blamed myself for the toxicity in the past, even when it is not me. When the realization hits, it’s utterly liberating but still hard to move on. Even the musical composition details the struggle of getting over something like that. Then, in “One Final Wish,” there is the knowledge that you can never return to who you were before. A love like this changes you on a subatomic level, altering everything that comes after; every interaction will now be filtered through this lens.
More darkness is heard on “Breathe.” The opening is depressing and sorrowful. The lyrics fit perfectly, and the way I interpret them (which is just my perception, not what the lyricist meant) is that there is a piece of this person who has been buried to shelter them from harm. The perfect place described is internal and the last safe place for who you used to be and wish you could be again. This is one of the biggest tragedies; a beautiful soul is now hidden from the world so it can never be harmed again. The string arrangement, coupled with the guitar riff and the pulsating rhythm, beautifully embodies this sentiment. The forlorn strings, wrapped around the harsh riff and delicate pianos, bring desperation, a longing for what used to be.
“Land Of Disarray” starts heavier than many of the other songs. There is no pretty little intro to give you hope; this track is dark from start to finish, adding harsh lyrics to emphasize the difference here. The tuning of the guitars is deep and dreary, foreboding. The bass and the drums are more modulated, plodding along like they’re having trouble trudging through this composition, struggling with the weight of the subject matter. This track sounds like both inner struggle and the realization of what the other person actually is, how they can become the same unless there is a complete break from each other.
Discordant string tones over delicate piano open “Ice And Fire.” The string arrangement is stunning, melancholy, and desperate. That continues throughout the song, blending with the guitar’s heavy riffs and gentle leads. Again, the drums are woven into the riff, not using standard phrasing. The bass hits sporadically, adding to the sense of dread the music and lyrics evoke. “To The Grave” begins the clawing out from the depths of this pit to live another day and get back to the person you once were, escaping Hell and moving among the living once more. The victory here is the abuser thinking you are beyond help, only for you to emerge whole. Broken but alive.
“Astray” opens with chants and muted instrumentation, which is smashed for the song’s main body. The riff is heavy, and the rhythm is faster than many on the album. There is defeat here but the tiniest glimmer of hope. Again, changed forever, but no longer hostage to the torture that is the past. They allude to hitting bottom, getting to the point where a willingness to change overpowers the ability to remain and suffer more. This is the point where growth can occur, and life can start again. It will take work, but it can be survived.
Solitude Within has built a kingdom within the mind. It is built on the relationship described as a castle, the seat of power for a domain, but it ends up being a prison. Once the sovereign’s reign was over, the people changed, even those who lived within the royal walls. There is a lot of suffering on this disc, pain that is bone-deep, so deep it becomes a part of the emotional makeup. I have no idea if this was intended by the writers, but this is what I hear and feel when I listen to this album.
There is beauty in this. From tragedy and pain comes growth; given time, even healing can occur. Desperation causes people to do something different, to take a path towards something better. This album could be about anything toxic: a significant other, an addiction, or a workplace. Hitting bottom often motivates the change necessary to live, to become a different person. I feel this record on a personal, visceral level. This album reminds me of what it takes to recover from something abusive. At 26 years sober, it is good to remember that this is how I felt when I first sobered up and began trying to rebuild my life. Sometimes, I need that reminder, so thank you, Solitude Within, for reminding me why the struggle is worth it, even today.
Because I feel this record in my soul, it is worthy of great praise. Is it perfect? Only you can answer that. I think the album deserves a perfect 10 rating, but only you can determine how much it fits your life, whether it inspires you or reminds you of the past. The music and the lyrics are beautifully paired, spectacularly complimenting each other. The music is so well suited to the words that I cannot imagine one without the other. The nuances are all there, the subtle details are there, and the album as a whole is stunning, an absolute work of art, at least to me.
- Guitars – 10
- Rhythms – 10
- Vocals – 10
- Songwriting – 10
- Production – 10
- Overall – 10.00