Those who don’t follow the circuit of U.S. underground stoner/doom festivals might have been wondering what happened to Solace. After all, it has been nearly 10 years since their last album, which just one very limited cassette single in between. But they’ve been fairly active on the live front, tearing it up at Maryland Doom Fest this past summer, where they previewed a few tunes from their long-awaited fourth album, The Brink.
This 11-track, 67-minute effort gets underway with “Breaker of the Way,” an eight-minute, organ-heavy, 70s-style heavy rock jam, which speeds up to a “Highway Star” chug around the 3:30 mark, complete with a ripping guitar solo that would probably make Ritchie Blackmore proud…if he ever took delight in the playing of others.
“Desert Coffin” takes a more heavy-metal approach, with a swirling opening riff that reminds me of Argus. This one settles into a steady chug, with the dual-guitar attack adding some epic doom flourishes a la Candlemass, with a similarly epic impact on the chorus. “Dead Sailor’s Dream” slows things down for a mellower, desert-rock number that reminds me of local stoners Low Orbit…until it hits you with a 100-word-a-minute, rapid-fire pre-chorus that has shades of Clutch. Did not see that coming!
“The Light is a Lie” opens with one of the most headbangable doom-metal riffs you’ll hear this year, shifting into a slightly more than mid-paced tempo a la Blood of the Sun before bringing back the heavy riff again for a sickly sweet chorus. Meanwhile, the nine-and-a-half-minute title track is an epic voyage in doomy space rock, a swinging sea shanty with no shortage of heavy grooves.
It’s almost a shame that the organ, which features so prominently on tunes like “Crushing Black” and “The Brink” isn’t a part of their live lineup – although these songs still sound great in any configuration.
(Blues Funeral Recordings)