Solarus – A Dance with Tragedy (Self-Released)

Friday, 31st December 2021
Rating: 9.5/10

Arriving at the critical third album juncture for a career, Solarus have already established a faithful following through their previous two records Reunion from 2017 and Darkest Days in 2019. Establishing a modern power metal sound with symphonic and progressive elements, anticipation for A Dance with Tragedy remains high – as critics and fans hope for even more stretching into their established pedigree of catchy hooks, addictive riffs, and endearing melodies that turn into songs that stand the test of time. The nine songs contained here will delight, fascinate, and promote even more discussion amongst newcomers and old-timers alike, as these Canadians incorporate more rhythmic/percussive accents, aggressive measures, and vocals that alternate between a majestic metal/pop arena and operatic angles for a full-on dynamic experience.

The growth in terms of guitar layers, lead breaks, keyboard/orchestration parts, and proper rhythm section support cannot be denied when ingesting tracks like “Waking Mind” and “Guiding Light” – guitarists Lucas MacArthur and Troy Longe elevating the proceedings in a tandem manner that takes on a power/progressive charge a la Dream Theater, Kamelot, or Evergrey colliding into Meshuggah, Arch Enemy, and Trivium. The musical versatility and confidence allow Sarah Dee as a singer to flex more of her trained abilities in colorful ways – reaching for different notes and varying her approach during a more bombastic, cinematic outing like “Everbound” to heighten aural anticipation for the half-time, percussive riffs and radiant symphonic accents. The title track features a guest vocal appearance from Vicky Psarakis of The Agonist, who alternates her distinctive growls/screams with Sarah’s forceful and clean delivery – the music once again pushing the melodic power terrain with some modern overtones, favoring plenty of double kick tricks and a slick, exotic lead break. Favorites change by the day – but a stellar standout that will get metalheads stomping and moving about in circle pit gymnastics would have to be “The Keeper”.  The opening guitar sequences are very positive and uplifting, while the main percussive riffs and instrumental break midway through aligning to that Meshuggah/Trivium interplay, Sarah gliding seamlessly between operatic and normal vocal expertise throughout the verses and chorus.

Six years in and Solarus deserves as much attention and support as the leaders in this genre. A Dance with Tragedy contains all the fervor, passion, and creative respect that the bigger bands with larger budgets and more support get – and should be on your listening schedule if you love power/progressive metal of any type.

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