Sollertia – Light (Apathia)

Thursday, 25th May 2017
Rating: 7/10

The re-emergence of seminal Norwegian avant-garde outfit …In the Woods has brought into focus the talents of their new singer, Britain’s James Fogarty. Already a semi-known commodity because of his work in his own Ewigkeit project, Fogarty’s sterling display on ITW’s comeback Pure helped regenerate interest in a band whose cult status may have been lost in the shuffle a bit over the years. Ever the busy gent, Fogarty also lends his luscious pipes to Sollertia, a dark metal project created by VoA VoXyD (ex-Ad Inferna) crafted in the vein of classic Anathema and Katatonia. Such company is mightily wise to keep indeed, although the band’s Light debut doesn’t totally jibe the way it should.

Dark metal, in its various forms and sub-forms, is at its best when extraneous elements are removed and the songs get to the point. Sure, Katatonia’s early compositions were often long and laborious, but mine through any one of them and you will find some kind of takeaway, whether a poignant melody, a darkened passage or biting vocal maneuver. Sollertia, or rather, VoA VoXyD, doesn’t equip his songs with the type of immediacy to convey them properly. Fogarty’s voice is very versatile, but at times, he feels like he’s harping over random riffs and vocal arrangements. There’s little in the way of hooks or memorable guitar lines, save for choice moments on “Mathematical Universe Hypothesis” and the closing title track, which contains perhaps the best array of cloaked riffs and atmosphere.

Indeed, it is a never-ending slog to discover a songwriting niche. The lack of upfront ideas and linear nature of Sollertia’s songs ultimately sideswipes what could have been an alluring project. On the bright side, Fogarty is becoming ubiquitous enough that an underwhelming project like this does nothing to quell interest in his …In the Woods work, or Ewigkeit project.

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