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Solstice - Prophecy CD (album) cover





4.07 | 55 ratings

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4 stars Prophecy or warning?

Andy Glass returns with his on and off collective Solstice with probably their finest album to date, 2013's Prophesy. With only 5 new album tracks and total running time of 58 minutes, there is quite a lot of this album to take in, in order to write a truly comprehensive overview without replaying the album over and over again until the wife comes at you with an axe.

But I will give it my best shot. The album is Solstice's first album to incorporate a concept and Prophecy is based around a native American prediction of the decline and rebirth of planet Earth. There's nothing new with that but it gives Glass and company a platform on which to weave some mesmerizing music with.

The album starts off at a slow mellow pace with the track Eyes Of Fire that sets up both the album's narrative and the evolution of it's music. Atmospheric keyboards signal the start of what feels like a journey into the desert before Glass's now characteristic metal like electric leads start to punctuate the soundscape as the other band members join in and support Emma Brown's sweet earthy vocals. After Emma dictates the album's mystical direction we're segued into the second track, Keepers Of The Truth.

Glass opens the song with some beautiful sounding acoustic guitar strumming before vibe like keyboard notes and Jenny Newman's folker than folk style fiddle playing soon gives way to a Yes like bass and drum rhythm, that is assaulted by intermediately during the song by Glass's now familiar guitar shredding. I say a Yes like bass and drum rhythm as Robin Phillips and Peter Hemsley are not Squire or Bruford and White clones. Their style is individual and completely fresh and contemporary.

Another musical motif that makes it's debut in this song is Steve McDaniels synths that at first are somewhat similar to those of Tony Banks but you will quickly realize that they are not really that similar at all and are uniquely his own style.

I'm starting to dig this album and it's musos very quickly.

The third track, Warrior, at almost 18 minutes has the most deviations, twists, turns and musical theme reprises and is a joy to listen to as Glass starts off with some galloping riffs that are quickly picked up by the rhythm section before Glass initiates quick catchy ascending and descending metal like riffs before Newman cranks up her folky fiddle lines. This will all culminate in McDaniels soaring space like synths before returning to a shred fest courtesy, again, of Mr. Glass.

The 11 minute West Wind is a two-parter with another mournful intro before giving way to another shred fest from Glass and then on to the longest and most substantial song lyrics of the album.

This sets up the album close, Black Water perfectly that is categorized by another dramatic bass and drum stomping rhythm by Phillips and Hemsley, a beautiful extended animated violin piece from Newman, more killer guitar shredding from Glass before Brown unleashes her most stirring and dramatic vocals of the entire album.

This song has been the climax the band have hinted at for 49 minutes and it does not dissapoint for a single second of it's 9 minute length. Indeed, Black Water may be one of the finest musical moments ever recorded by any prog band since the inception of the genre. And that's not hyperbole talking. An song equal in emotive dramatic scope to Marillion's The Great Escape. The song is just that well composed and stunningly executed.

After catching your breath, you can chill out with the three excellent remaster bonus cuts from the band's first album Silent Dance, (remixed by Steven Wilson) with Find Yourself being the highlight. 4 stars and highly recommended for the 'active listener'.

SteveG | 4/5 |


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