Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Solothus: Summoned from the Void (2013)

A Band to Watch

I reviewed the demo from Finland’s Solothus at the end of 2011, declaring them “a band to watch.” The record was straight-forward, simple death/doom but with a lot of great things going for it. There is just something special about certain metal demos.

Now the band is signed to Memento Mori and they’ve unleashed their debut proper, Summoned from the Void. They’ve kept a lot of what you could hear on the demo: dynamic tempos from slow to mid-paced and back again, hefty death growls, and a caveman level of sophistication, to name a few. But they departed significantly from their demo in at least two key respects, and that makes all the difference in the world.

What happened to the bass? The bass was turned up loud on the demo, and it had a crackling sound that gave it some real punch. That made these guys stand out despite the fact their music is unoriginal. But now, the production sounds like any typical death/doom album out there. The bass is no longer the force it was, and I miss that.

And perhaps just as importantly, they’ve lost economy of songwriting. The demo was three songs of five minutes each, in and out, damage done. In contrast, the album begins with an intro, followed by four songs topping seven minutes, and closing with an eleven minute track. Dynamic tempos alone can only take you so far in keeping a listener interested.

I can’t over-emphasize the fact these guys are playing a well-defined genre. They have a firm grip on how to play death/doom and what a typical death/doom album sounds like. And now, that’s all the good you can say about them. They have become thoroughly run-of-the-mill and completely average. It looks like the things I praised them for were happy accidents brought on by inexperience and/or lack of funds or whatever else constrained the demo recording process.

There is just something special about certain metal demos. And when you get past that demo stage, that something special can evaporate.

The Verdict: 3 out of 5 stars

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