Solstice – Death’s Crown is Victory EP (Into the Void Records)

Friday, 24th January 2014
Rating: 8/10

Occasionally tagged as the caboose in the freight train of the holy trinity of British doom (that would be one slow train, though), Solstice have legitimate cred and standing thanks to a meager two-album/multiple splits and demo output. If that’s a by-product of coming from a scene that produced such subgenre defining bands, then so be it; however, the bubbling doom stew of both 1994’s Lamentations and ‘98’s New Dark Age have given Solstice more than enough of a platform in which stand. Thus, it helped predicate a 2007 reunion, which seven years after the fact, has led to the four-song Death’s Crown is Victory EP.

Main dude/guitarist Rich Walker has assembled an entirely new band for the Mach-whatever version of Solstice, thus cutting off the lifeline to the above-mentioned 90’s pair. Then again, the list of members who have done time in Solstice ranks as a veritable “who’s-who,” with gents from Cradle of Filth, My Dying Bride, While Heaven Wept, and more having passed through the turnstiles. Anyway, new vocalist Paul Kearns is given the task of filling space with an emotive, but hardly polished delivery. There’s some noticeable warts to his vocals (see his long-winded caw on the title track), yet such fibbles and flaws blend into a sort of early 90’s charm that’s hard to come by of late.

With only two real cuts to show here: “I Am the Hunter” and the title track, Death’s Crown is Victory can be viewed as a primer to an in-the-making full-length. Regardless of what lies ahead, the sprawling, epic-laden doom spin of Solstice is no worse for wear 20 some odd years after the fact. Actually, there’s some real hair-raising doom tinges here, the product of a band that still has the touch, even if it’s a smidge slow of hand.

Solstice on Bandcamp