Solstice - To Dust CD
Imported edition from UNDYING MUSIC.
Of all the many old-school death and thrash bands to reunite in the last few years, none has been more welcome or unexpected to my ears than Solstice. Perhaps the most underrated band to ever arise out of the late 80s Florida scene, Solstice released two hellfire metal albums before disappearing completely. Now they're back and better than ever. Yes, "To Dust" is every bit the equal of their first two records and superior to just about every reconstituted death/thrash offering released in the past few years. Whereas other bands have shat all over their legacy with lukewarm platters of mediocrity, Solstice stands primed, as ferocious and passionate as ever.
As 'Black' fades in, the classic Solstice sound overwhelms: rattling bass locked in front and center as coruscating waves of righteous riffage overwhelm on both sides. Brian Harris locks in a much tighter pattern on his drums than Alex Marquez did, adding a new dimension to the Solstice sound -- less thrashing, more technical lock-step, but it's a nice update and adds a level of precision brutality previously missing from their sound. Christian Rudes vocals are as scathingly harsh as ever. It's a complete, unique, instantly recognizable sound, something that set Solstice apart from all their peers then as now. No one sounds like them. An individual identity in metal is difficult to achieve but Solstice nails their sound again with ease. The production job is also obviously modern but not too soaked in the triggered pro-tools effect that has watered down so many good bands recently.
And there is not a weak moment on this record. Their songwriting chops remain as strong as ever with lots of twisting, memorable riffs, interesting time changes, and neat soloing. Never afraid to experiment, Solstice also toys with clean picking and strumming passages, particularly towards the end of the title track. They even blaze through a Cynic cover ('Extremes') and totally make it their own.
Since Solstice never got the sales or acclaim they deserved, it is hard to judge just what the future holds for them. Whether this is a one-off or a full-time return to duty. Either way, "To Dust" is one molten slab of excoriating, satisfying death metal and I sincerely hope it garners them some long overdue attention.