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Solace : 13

I first heard Solace when MeteorCity's 'Jersey Devils' split EP with Solarized came out, and I've been a rabid fan ever since. In fact, depending on mood, I think Solace's effort from 2000, 'Further', is the best album the stoner/doom genre has produced. That's a big call, but so be it. To me, the group is just in a different league from all but the very best bands on the planet, whether in-genre our without. Their heavy-as-hell blend of stoner/doom, played by musicians whose talents go beyond "good" and into the realm of brilliant and unique, has no equal.

So of course it was with a mixture of excitement and trepidation that I heard that '13' was finally coming out. Excitement because of what I just wrote above, but trepidation as well: could they even begin to equal the depth and overall quality of 'Further'? No worries, 'cause they can and do. Truth is, they've got one foot in the past and one in the future. Vocalist Jason, with his enigmatic, personal lyrics, still has one of the best voices in music; by turns shrieking or as clean as they come. Rob Holz destroys the bottom end with his thunderous, chunky basslines, and guitarist Tommy Southard is a wah king and riffmaster without peer. Since my copy of '13' is a(n) (official) CDr, there are no liners, and there was no info sheet with disc. So I don't know who's playing drums, although it's safe to say that (former drummer) Bixby is on at least a few tracks. Whoever the new drummer is, he's more than adequate to the task.

There are some new touches that show that they're not resting on past glories. 'Loving Sickness/Burning Fuel' starts off with a nice guitar figure, heavy on the reverb, that's not quite like anything they've done before. It gives the song a retro feel before venturing into more familiar 'Sabbath territory and a killer 'Into the Void' descending riff. And who's playing that harmonica? The redoubtable Wino makes a guest appearance on 'Common Cause,' which sounds like Spirit Caravan at their driving, sweaty best, augmented by a little southern slide. But there are plenty of nods to the past as well: 'Try' is a reworking of one of their songs off 'Jersey Devils', 'King Alcohol' and 'Sled Heavy' have both appeared on comps., and 'Indolence', 'In the Oven,' and 'Theme.' are all based on tunes found on a tape Tommy sent me years ago. And dig those covers of Pentagram's 'Forever My Queen' and Agnostic Front's 'With Time!' Now there's some REAL classic rock!

The cool thing is that, old or new, Solace has lost none of their power, secure in their ability while forging ahead. They've managed to form a near-as-dammit perfect blend of 'Sabbathy doom and more straight-ahead 70s-inspired rock. There are a few differences between the new album and their older work: '13' seems slightly more rawk than 'Further', not quite as deep and melancholy. Depending on your preferences, that can be either a good or a bad thing. And I prefer the artwork on 'Further' to that on the new disc. Minor quibbling aside, however, '13' is a fantastic album and you should buy it immediately. This is yet another jewel in MeteorCity's crown.

Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. Loving Sickness/Burning Fuel
2. Indolence
3. King Alcohol
4. Once Around the Sun (Deep Through Time)
5. Common Cause
6. In the Oven
7. Forever My Queen
8. Theme.
9. Try
10. Sled Heavy
11. Rice Burner
12. With Time
13. Shit Kisser (Hidden Track)

Duration : Approx. 65 minutes.

Visit the Solace bandpage.

Reviewed on ??-??-???? by Kevin McHugh
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