Meteor City Records
Regurgitating a fist full of Sabbath riffs and sinister Ozzy-like vocals is the long anticipated Solace 13. Reaching down deep into the fiery depths of Hell, the Jersey quartet pull some amazing bottom-end grooves to drop on this 12-track sophomore platter. Lead by bassist Rob Hultz and riff-savvy Tommy Southard the two bring forth a swollen festering which erupts like the devil's inferno. Opening track 'Loving Sickness, Burning Fuel' uses a plodding stomp before the crushing weight of the song's full effect wreaks havoc on the tympanic membrane. A monster dose of harmonica follows the chorus and clears way for some of the most ripping guitar leads this side of the river Styx.
Formed in 1996, Solace combines the talents of Hultz and Southard former members of Cathedral and Godspeed respectively. Their recording career started with a split EP with post-grunge metallers Solarized. And later followed with their own EP "Distanced From Reality" before recording their doom-laden full-length debut "Further" in 2000. Following in its footsteps almost three years later, "13" hints at the difficulty getting the project done. Wrought with trials and tribulations, the disc went through a number of incarnations before resting in its final state.
Former Glueneck vocalist, Jason and drummer John Proveaux complete the ring of fire created by Hultz and Southard and devastating is their power. Listen to 'Indolance' and 'Once Around The Sun' for the full effect of sledgehammer doom. Jason's delivery is spot on with conviction and guttural force. Dig his voice and the bludgeoned humor of 'Rice Burner' for a ball roasting slow burner. Sided with the melodic overtone of 'Try', both sides of Solace prove they can work next to each other in creating an anxious pace, full of depth and equally emotional.
'King Alcohol', 'In The Oven' and 'Sled Heavy' twist through mind-numbing density with the determination of a starved mole. Deep, dark and oh, so heavy is par for the course as each track builds into a blinding, unquenchable fury. Highlighting fifth track, 'Common Cause' is special guest Wino (Spirit Caravan, The Obsessed) who lends his talents to build a Skynyrd-style, ass-kicking rocker. For the song, Southard wrote the original riff and sent it off to Wino who worked out the vocals and guitar then joined the group in the studio to create a masterpiece.
Two covers grace this opus, the heavy-handed 'Forever My Queen' by early '70s Pentagram and the thundering 'With Time' by Agnostic Front. In keeping with the title theme, there is a 13th (hidden) track called 'Shit Kisser.' Encasing the group's triumphant return is the intensely engaging cover art. Created by artist Paul Vismara (www.paulvismara.com), this gorgeous symbolic "Mexican Folk Art" has a dark magic all its own which only adds to the records Southern California / Kyuss mystic. The brooding illustration in the booklet is equally captivating in a Uriah Heep (1970) sort-of-way.
Meteor City Records
It is the voice of Abdullah's Jeff Shirilla that takes this disc to another plane. Bathed in Stoner sludge yet cloaked in a Gothic darkness the third outing for this Richfield, Ohio duo is significant. Remaining true to their legions of Stoner / Doom fans Shirilla and bassist, drummer Ed Stephens move in a slightly move melodic direction. The first evidence is 'A Dark But Shining Sun', the third track in. Winding up with a Judas Priest chug, the song ignites a side of Abdullah, as to now, has been unheard. Layered guitars make this an instant favorite.
Keeping up three decades of influences, Abdullah move from Black Sabbath and Sisters of Mercy to Alice In Chains and Corrosion of Conformity. The duo arrange song and structure entrenched in ‘80s European hard rock with a current thick production. “Deprogrammed’ is a perfect example with a Thin Lizzy / Motley Crüe guitar riff while retaining the bands originality. Besides being the voice, Shirilla manages all guitars creating a rich texture from the padded wa-wa in ‘Beyond The Mountain’ to the chunky drama that is ‘Black Helicopters.’
Even on the first listen you’ll swear you’ve heard “Graveyard Poetry” before. It has a raw new energy yet keeps its feet firmly planted in the roots of the past. Writing memorable classics like the rumbling 'Salamander' to the album favorite ‘Strange Benedictions’ the songs are what carry this record. Each time change, each monster riff or pounding rhythm, even the heavily used echo of Shirilla voice shoots straight to the soul When your still singing the chorus “Oh, Somewhere down the road” hours after the record has ended, says something.
With 14 tracks and over 65 minutes of music there is plenty of opportunity to drop in a filler track or two. Not on this record. It’s one killer tune after another. Even the eerie piano scales in ’Behold A Pale Horse’ played by guest Bryan Stauffer embrace the song’s darkness giving the emotion of Shirilla voice a point of reference before jumping headlong into a fine metal whirlwind.
‘Guided By The Spirit’ is another one of those song that could have fit on a number of mid-eighties import records. So well crafted, it could be straight off Mad Max “Rollin’ Thunder” or Def Leppard’s “On Through The Night.” The band is so proud of it you hear them say, “That’s Cool” as the song fades. The lyrics are remarkably mature dealing with subjects from science-fiction writer Harlan Ellison on 'The Whimper of Whipped Dogs' to the cult bible conspiracy on 'Behold A Pale Horse.' This is one of those must haves and not to be missed CDs.
Get both records at: www.meteorcity.com or www.stonerrock.com.