Solarus - Darkest Days - (9/10)
Published on March 18, 2019
When I first heard Solarus’ debut album, Reunion, back in 2017, I was instantly hooked. Sarah Dee’s sharp, strong vocals instantly caught my attention and the blatant skill this band displayed had me eagerly awaiting what they’d come up with next.
And, holy shit, did they ever deliver. I was expecting a great album, but Darkest Days is on another level; it’s taken everything that I loved from the first record and made it exponentially better.
The rhythm section is as tight as ever, with some absolutely sick riffs from axeman Lucas MacArthur and killer double kicking from Nich Longe, and is sometimes reminiscent of Amaranthe’s heavily syncopated backups and breakdowns. The parts under the choruses of ‘Limbo’ are especially fucking juicy, and the solo backups in ‘My World’, while not especially technical, are really good.
Now, while the background parts are incredible, the foreground is just as good. Sarah Dee displays impressive versatility with her voice. She’s able to hold a powerful melody but she can also bring it in for a softer, more beautiful effect, as in the ballad ‘Holding On’. Aside from the vocals, the guitars hold the stage just fine. The countermelodies are strong, but MacArthur’s solos are fucking ridiculous. I’d pick a favourite or two, but I don’t really think I can. Each one offers something a bit different, but they’re all just as awesome.
There’s a huge mix of songs on this record. From the titular track, which begins the album with vigourous riffs and epic synths, to songs like ‘The Final Hour’, which bleeds emotion (largely because of that glorious fucking solo, whose divine shredding knows no bounds), there’s something here for the casual listener and the musician alike. On top of the variety, the songs themselves are immensely dynamic. Many of the tracks, such as ‘Requiem for the Fallen’ and ‘Dear Saviour’, go from pounding hard to pulling right back with seamless execution.
Despite all the goodness I see in this record, there is one aspect I don’t like. One thing I can’t stand in music is when a song fades out, rather than having an actual ending, as in ‘Embers in the Rain’, ‘My World’, and the closer. Now, in cases like Solarus, where I know these guys are the real deal, I find myself questioning whether or not it’s really such a bad thing. However, that doesn’t ever get very far, because I remember that I don’t care and I hate it so much. Is it because I think it’s lazy? Is it because I think the song doesn’t sound like it’s done yet? I don’t fucking know. Anyway, at the end of the day, this album is good enough that it’s not a huge deal, but I had to find something to bitch about.
These female-fronted Canadians are, in a word, exceptional. There’s not a single track on Darkest Days that I don’t love, and my list of complaints is very, very short. Solid musicianship is displayed by all, the melodies are strong, and the songwriting is near-flawless. After already listening to it a few times, I still haven’t gotten enough. Be sure to grab this one when it comes out in April!
Originally written for PowerThorn.com