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Solace | 13 | review | stoner | rock | Lollipop

Solace

13 (MeteorCity)
by Brian Varney

Three years, several spontaneously-combusting drummers, and a mishap involving a demagnetizer and the master tapes to this album later, Solace are back with a whomping sophomore album, upon which they've instilled the somewhat appropriate title 13. Apparently, the title refers to the number of songs on the album, but it also seems appropriate in light of the horror stories that've surfaced about the making of the album, not to mention the in-band tensions that no doubt only added to the fun.

The early word was that the band had split with lead throat Jason, news which saddened but didn't surprise me. Internal strife or no, Jason is one of my favorite vocalists around, someone who approaches the power and all-around rock god presence of Chris Cornell at the height of his powers. However, he's still the singer as of the completion of 13, and the word is that he's already agreed to be on the third record, which, with a bit of luck, will be released by the time I'm eligible for social security.

Still, a good record is a good record, whether it takes two hours or two years to make, and if you enjoy it when it's finished, it was worth the wait. By this criterion, 13 was worth the wait. The band's second consecutive masterstroke, 13, though possessed of many of the same qualities which made the debut Further an inarguable success, is an altogether angrier and more aggressive animal. Face-rippers "Indolence," "Sled Heavy," and "Once Around the Sun (Deep Through Time)," where Jason surely screams his voice raw, are possessed of an aggression and an animal fury beyond anything presented on the debut.

As a cohesive unit, the band is nearly faultless, giving the impression that they could play for a few hours without so much as a sideways glance at one another. Strangling hot riff after hot riff from the strings of his instrument, pausing only now and then to belch forth a tremendous solo or two, guitarist Tommy Southard continues to establish himself as one of the top two or three slingers around at the moment, his playing a fireball of passionate head-slamming. And I know I've already mentioned Jason, but I'm really glad he's still in the band, as his magnificent, long-hair-and-fire-coming-down-the-mountain vocals are the perfect final touch for this band, dousing the already white-hot music with a final splash of gasoline before tossing a match and turning away, the ensuing explosion only partially obscuring the sound of his desperate wail.
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