Yes, Soijl is the newest project by ex-Saturnus member Mattias Svensson. He started this solo-act in 2008 already but it wasn't until 2014 that Soijl became something serious. By then Henrik Kindvall of Skold joined in, taking care of vocals and lyrics. Now the duo released their stunning debut upon the masses, re-introducing the atmospheric approach to doom metal in a highly convincing way. The hibernating doom kid inside of me secretly hopes this will be followed by live performances.
The album opens with title track 'Endless Elysian Fields', immediately showing what this project stands for. Slow but melodic guitars and a wide array of drums form the foundations for the deep growls and often blackened screams to thrive upon. Although the tempo is quite sluggish, there's still a decent amount of energy, mostly coming from the brilliant use of drums and percussion. I especially like the double bass drums used on this album as they provide a droning element which I simply can't resist.
'Dying Kinship' takes the same elements and adds layers of guitars. It's because of music like this that I ended up listening to funeral doom, post-rock and drone music, but it's always great to return to this kind of melodic doom metal. Bands like My Dying Bride, Anathema, November's Doom and Doom:VS often come to mind when I listen to these tracks. It breathes the same atmosphere of solitude, despair and impending agony. What's more, Soijl even succeeds in translating the genre into a version that works quite well in the present day doom scene where bands like Pallbearer roam.
And Soijl isn't even done there. In a way, this duo also succeeded in bringing in a few depressive black metal elements. Once in a while, especially when the blackened vocals take the upperhand, the whole thing takes a twist towards a bleak, eerie atmosphere. Minimal but effective use of keyboards enhance that atmosphere, making 'Swan Song' a bit of a masterpiece actually. 'The Formation Of A Black Nightsky' takes that even a bit further, and faster, and is my favorite track on this splendid piece of work.
I only mentioned four songs in this review and there's still three more to come, but I'm not going into a song-by-song thing with this one. By now it should be clear that this albums comes highly recommended. It's a welcome addition to any collection where the bands I mentioned in this review are present. There's plenty of variation, melody and intensity to remain interesting for a few consecutive listens, that's for sure. So I'm going to let that long-haired doom kid enjoy this one a little more.