10 March 2017

Review: Solitary – The Diseased Heart of Society

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A US census. Triple transits of Jupiter’s moons. A studio album from UK thrashers Solitary. What do all these things have in common? The answer is that we get one per decade. The Preston based four piece have been motoring along since 1994, yet their latest record, The Diseased Heart of Society, is only the third full length they have to their name. Quite why fate has decreed this to be the case, I don’t know, but here we are in 2017 with album number three of furious thrash metal.

The opening throes of “Blackened Skies” briefly recall the legendary “Beneath the Remains” before shifting to the sort of dual guitar harmony that Kreator enjoy incorporating on their modern records (think “The Patriarch” or “Mars Mantra”). “Wait” follows with a simple, plam muted chug that gradually grows more complex, before launching into a no nonsense thrasher. Richard Sherrington barks his orders with a gruff, authoritative demeanour, chanelling plenty of Chuck Billy, but also incorporating shades of Evan Seinfeld (ex-Biohazard) and Terje ‘Cyrus’ Andersen (ex-Susperia). The guitar tone is a thing of twisted beauty; a heavy, meaty beast that packs one hell of a punch. The bass isn’t too clear, but its presence is certainly felt in the mix, melding perfectly with the guitars to give the riffs an almighty wallop. The drums also possess plenty of power, with the palpitation inducing thud of the bass drums particularly notable.

Elsewhere, “Trigger Point Atrocity” balances groove and thrash effectively; its some razor sharp riffs never quite planting their feet firmly in either camp, with the title track taking a similar path once the monolithic opening riff has slowly unwound. “Anthem of Regret” adopts a more clinical, heavy metal approach, with a sweeping, siren like melody in the chorus that makes it a clear stand out cut. Conversely, “Architects of Shame” never really gets going, opening with a hybrid “Blackened” / “Hordes of Chaos” knock off riff that stumbles into a generic chug. It’s the first misstep and unfortunately the point at which the record enters a lull that it struggles to recover from (title track aside). The trio of “Unidentified”, “The Words Define” and “The Edge of Violence” are all heads down, no frills thrash that are blunt and to the point, bursting with energy but lacking originality. I do have to mention the dazzling solo in “The Edge of Violence” however, which is truly sublime and is a rare moment of high quality on the latter half of the disc. “Humanities Declined” winds the speed in a touch following the thrashing triplets prior, but a high velocity hangover is in full effect as it fails to amount to much.

It’s a shame that the quality noticably drops off around the half way mark of the record, as there is a lot of high quality material to be found early on. Solitary really come out swinging, and after hearing the first five or so songs, coupled with a stellar production job, you start to feel that they were on to a winner. That they then run out of gas is unfortunate, and although the final run of tracks feel a little uninspired, I can’t say it drags the album down too much. All things considered, The Diseased Heart of Society is a fair effort. Let’s see what the 2020s will bring.

Rating: 6/10 – frontloaded thrasher that drops off in the second half.

Highlights: “Wait”, “Anthem of Regret”

Links: Facebook, Bandcamp

The Diseased Heart of Society is available now worldwide, via UKEM Records.