When I first heard this EP, it was a moving experience. It has been a far-too-long time since anyone’s heard a new recording from Solstice. They have blessed fans with something to quench their thirst for the band’s poetic form of heavy metal with Death’s Crown is Victory.
Solstice has never played folk or Viking metal, not exactly, but their songs easily inspire the same emotions listeners can find in those styles of music. Though they have been on hiatus (since 2002!), they have not started anew, nor have they simply picked up where things were left. This release encapsulates a bigger and more primal sound than their earlier work, and that was what the band was striving for: to instill some of the magic that can only be appreciated during a live show. I think they’ve done that well, without losing that studio polish.
The guitars here are dripping with honey wine; the sound is big and sweetens the ear. The entire band plays tightly together, keeping the beat strong and the hits powerful.
Track 1, “Fortress England,” is an introductory, instrumental song. It builds up with clean guitar tones, rolling toms, and strategically placed cymbal hits that sparkle. When it moves into its heavier aesthetics, it’s with a powerful rhythmic riff.
After the short introduction song, there are two tracks of over 9 minutes each: “I am the Hunter” continues the instrumental work for a time and then finally breaks into the first verse. Your ears are instantly hit with something that is unmistakably Solstice, despite the heavy line-up changes that have taken place since their last album.
The title track (track 3) is a mid-paced, mug-swinging piece of traditional doom metal. It is as graceful as it is pure metal, and deserves to be the focus of the EP. Standing at just under 10 minutes in length, it as truly an opus that should hold stead until Solstice can give us another full-length album (and please do so!)
The final track, “Aequinoctium II,” is an instrumental metal ballad. It almost makes me forget that there are but 4 tracks to hear here, and it compensates nicely.
Death’s Crown is Victory is where heavy metal was destined; it has been travelling and evolving throughout the decades, and this short but sweet release is a perfectly logical step in its future-history. I can’t imagine any fans of the band being let down when they hear this. They will be elated that the music is still burning strongly after all this time.
This potent little release is an epic poem that takes the form of a love ballad to the gods of heavy metal! Yes, you read that properly. Who are you to resist its power? If, after listening to Death’s Crown is Victory, you are not satisfied, you should be ashamed at the loss that’s befallen you.
Genre: Heavy Metal
Release: February 10th, 2014
Label: Into the Void Records (a devision of Invictus Productions)
- Richard M Walker – Guitars (1990 – present)
- Andy Whittaker – Guitars (2010 – present)
- Paul Kearns – Vocals (2011 – present)
- Ian ‘Izak Gloom’ Buxton – Bass (2012 – present)
- James Ashbey – Drums (2012 – present)
Written by Michael Kaltenbrunner