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Solstice : Death's Crown Is Victory (EP)

Pretty much the definition of pure doom, and pure heavy metal itself.

Well, it's been about fifteen years since the last proper Solstice release (which was "New Dark Age", all the way back in 1998). So, is this EP worth the wait? If you excuse the shortness of it, then yes. Very much so.

"Death's Crown is Victory" features four tracks, only two of which, 'I Am the Hunter' and the title track, can be called songs. The bookend instrumentals, 'Fortress England' (which starts off quiet enough, but launches into an almost power metal-like intro), and 'Aequinoctium II' (which feels more like it should be part of a bigger song, rather than a whole unto itself), are just that: bookends. Though they aren't bad at all.

On the two songs proper, new vocalist Paul Kearns shows off just what he can do. The singing is loud, powerful, and clear. When things get quiet around the five and a half minute mark of 'I Am the Hunter', one really gets a feel for the sheer strength of Paul's vocals. I dare say, he may be the best vocalist Solstice has had so far. It seems like Mr. Walker has chosen really well.

The music is just as wonderful as ever. Dual guitar leads here and there (especially at around the four minute mark of 'I Am the Hunter') remind one of Iron Maiden, and really, a lot of England's best of the NWOBHM. As well, the chugging riffs in the back (much akin to a call to arms), and wailing guitars up front are a Solstice tradition, and it's nice to hear it at its peak as always.

When it comes to the title track, at around the one minute mark, it sounds like an old English folk song. Of course, the machine gun like riffing throughout make it sound like a epic battle march. One can picture the soldiers on the battlefield marching to the drummer's beat. And just like any good story, 'Death's Crown is Victory' has its high and low moments, which all fall to a final crescendo around the eight and a half minute mark. Epic? Epic!

All in all, after almost twenty four years Solstice is pretty much the definition of pure doom, and pure heavy metal itself: no growls, no keyboards, and no bullshit. You know exactly what to expect, and that's what you get. Still, you can't help but be awed and impressed by it.

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Reviewer's rating: 9/10


Tracklist :
1. Fortress England
2. I Am The Hunter
3. Death's Crown Is Victory
4. Aequinoctium II

Duration : Approx. 28 minutes

Visit the Solstice bandpage.

Reviewed on 2014-05-02 by Matt Zuchowski
Thermal Mass
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