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PROPHECY

Solstice

Neo-Prog


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Solstice Prophecy album cover
4.20 | 75 ratings | 6 reviews | 22% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2013

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Eyes of Fire (8:52)
2. Keepers of the Truth (8:14)
3. Warriors (17:33)
4. West Wind (11:05)
5. Blackwater (10:52)
- Bonus tracks :
6. Find Yourself (6:15)
7. Return of Spring (7:24)
8. Earthsong (6:32)

Total Time 76:47

Line-up / Musicians

- Emma Brown / vocals (1-5)
- Andy Glass / guitars, vocals
- Steve McDaniel / keyboards & vocals (1-5)
- Jenny Newman / fiddle (1-5)
- Robin Phillips / bass (1-5)
- Pete Hemsley / drums (1-5)

With:
- Johnny McGuire / additional vocals (1-5)
- Sandy Leigh / vocals (6-8)
- Marc Elton / fiddle & vocals (6-8)
- Mark Hawkins / bass (6-8)
- Martin Wright / drums (6-8)

Releases information

With 3 bonus tracks recorded in 1984, now remixed by Steven Wilson from the original Silent Dance 8-track tapes

Artwork: Barry Kitson

CD Esoteric Antenna ‎- EANTCD 1024 (2013, UK)

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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SOLSTICE Prophecy ratings distribution


4.20
(75 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(22%)
22%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(46%)
46%
Good, but non-essential (28%)
28%
Collectors/fans only (4%)
4%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

SOLSTICE Prophecy reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
4 stars Keepers of the truth

More than 30 years after the band's formation, Solstice has created what is in my opinion their best album to date. Prophecy--the band's fifth studio album--consists of five tracks (with no breaks between them) that all in all run for just under an hour. (In addition, there are three bonus tracks which are older Solstice tracks remixed by Steven Wilson.) The album revolves around a concept or theme that wisely is never allowed to overshadow the great music. The comic book-like artwork by Marvel artist Barry Kitson provides an appealing visual aspect. The lyrics and the artwork complement the music well making for an organic unity.

Eyes Of Fire opens the album in a rather low-key fashion and on my first listen I worried that I was in for a sleepy experience. But instead this builds up nicely to a guitar solo and leads the way to the much more energetic Keepers Of The Truth and onwards to an exciting and progressive journey. The vocals are often Yes-like with the female lead vocals of Emma Brown being backed up by male harmony vocals in a way that strongly evokes how Chris Squire and (to a lesser extent) Steve Howe characteristically back up Jon Anderson in Yes. Even some of the New-Agey lyrics remind of Anderson's lyrical style and some acoustic guitar parts remind of Steve Howe's acoustic playing. The electric lead guitar playing of Andy Glass instead often evoke (his namesake in Camel) Andy Latimer's wonderful sound. The many violin-driven passages often remind me of Kansas.

With Yes, Camel, and Kansas belonging to my personal all-time favourite bands, being reminded of them here is a blessing for sure and a basis for commendation. But I also wish to stress that Solstice are by no means just followers, they have a sound of their own that also draws on Folk and Jazz music in ways foreign to the above mentioned Prog giants (and the New-Agey/World-Music 'feel' of the music is, if not unique, at least somewhat unusual; perhaps Mandalaband can be mentioned in the context). Solstice has certainly inspired hordes of female-fronted progressive Rock bands of more recent decent. They are often counted among the pioneers of the British Neo-Prog movement, but in reality they have close to nothing in common with the usual suspects of that subgenre (Marillion, Pallas, IQ, etc.). Solstice is somewhere in the borderlands between Neo-Prog and classic Symphonic Prog. The keyboard sounds may be modern, but the mind-set is closer to that of classic progressive Rock.

The three bonus tracks are remixes by Steven Wilson of three tracks from Solstice' 1984 debut album Silent Dance. The latter is a very good album as well, but hearing these tracks straight after the new tracks just stands to emphasise that these songs are better heard within their original context (new remixes notwithstanding). If you don't know Solstice yet, starting with Prophecy is a good idea, and the three bonus tracks (when heard in isolation from the new material) should make you curious about Silent Dance and the band's other albums. Solstice is a great and unfairly overlooked band well worthy of your attention.

Highly recommended!

Review by Matti
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This release includes three bonus tracks, Steven Wilson's remixes from SOLSTICE's debut album Silent Dance (1984), so I'll start with them. Silk soft sounds, girlish-sounding female vocalist called Sandy Leigh, and 6-7-minute melodic compositions that are like a mix of the most calm Caravan with their jazz flavour and some folky soft pop such as Clannad, except more instrumentally oriented. Beautiful!

During the long career the group has changed all members except the songwriting guitarist Andy Glass, but the style has remained mostly in peaceful atmospheres. There are several female voices in more recent Neo Prog not very different from Emma Brown, but that is a good thing after all. Prophecy is a finely produced, nearly an hour-long work divided in only five longish tracks. The leaflet features colour drawings by Marvel artist Barry Kitson.

The opener 'Eyes of Fire' is nearly narcotically slow horizon-painting, while the second track contains interludes with a bumpy rhythm pattern, fiddle-playing and somehow wandering instrumental part. In the beginning of 'Warriors' the guitar sounds make one think of Pink Floyd, but in its 17 -minute entirety the composition is over-extended, epic Neo Prog that has some difficulties to keep itself together. And actually the same criticism suits more or less for the whole album. It's definitely delightful to hear so serene and yet many-sided prog these times (when metal is often the keyword), but I can't help getting some faint feelings of boredom, ie. waiting of something more exciting to happen. Do I sound too harsh on this beautiful album? Anyway, otherwise this is very recommendable, instrumentally emphasized and slightly folk-flavoured melodic Neo Prog in the vein of Iona, Karnataka or early Mostly Autumn. 3 stars!

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Prophecy is a special album in the Solstice discography for two reasons. The first reason it is their first album to be recorded with the exact same lineup that produced their previous studio album. (Indeed, it's almost but not quite the same lineup as produced their previous two albums, since The Cropredy Set - a live-in-the-studio affair rather than a true live album - was recorded with an almost-identical group of musicians except Pete Hemsley wasn't on drums, Clive Bunker was.)

The other reason? Why, simply that this is the best album Solstice have produced to date. Set aside the three bonus tracks - remixes from Silent Dance by Steven Wilson - because whilst those are decent, at the same time there's only so much even Steven can do to rectify the issues arising from the somewhat unsympathetic production job which Silent Dance suffered from. Concentrate instead on the five-song cycle that constitutes this album, and drink in the gorgeous production job which really teases out the subtleties of the band's work. With stronger than usual compositions, the band may well have produced their magnum opus here.

Review by kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Reviewer
4 stars There is no doubt that one of the most important progressive bands to come out of the scene in the 80's was Solstice, but due to multiple reasons they never really managed to maintain the consistency of membership to allow them to be able to build their reputation as they should. However, with the release of the excellent 'Sia' in 2020 they are finally getting the recognition from a wider base than they have previously enjoyed. 'Prophecy' was the album which preceded that one, only seven years earlier, and this was the first time they had released two studio recordings within three years of each other and the only time that consecutive albums featured the same line-up. Even though the album itself is more than 50 minutes long, comprising five songs, this CD also features three tracks taken from 1984's debut, 'Silent Dance', which have been remixed by Steven Wilson.

Guitarist Andy Glass is the mainstay of the band, ensuring that the musical legacy and style is maintained, which means the line-up always has two distinct features, namely a female singer and a violinist, one of the very few prog bands in the scene to have one as a permanent member. This means the line-up for the first five songs has Andy joined by Emma Brown (vocals), Steve McDaniel (keyboards, vocals), Jenny Newman (violin), Robin Phillips (bass) and Pete Hemsley (drums) (interestingly, 'Sia' was released some seven years after this one but the only change was to the singer with the introduction of Jess Holland), while the last three has him joined by Sandy Leigh (vocals), Marc Elton (violin, vocals), Mark Hawkins (bass) and Martin Wright (drums).

Solstice will always be viewed as a neo-prog outfit, but there are also huge elements of pastoral and symphonic prog as well, which means there are times when they appear to be influenced by Camel, others by Yes, a little Gentle Giant here, some Kansas there, all wrapped up in their distinctive sound which makes them so appealing. Andy's guitar often provides cut through, giving us an edge, which allows the softer elements to be even more so, ensuring we never get too laid back but instead are fully engaged. There is a great deal going on in this recording, with wonderfully complex layers which build, taking the listener on a journey. The music can be driving, rocky and with passion, and in "Warriors" we find a sudden shift into symphonic with keyboards, guitar, and violin as one and Emma wailing over the top. This is the longest track on the album and is the one I would point towards to demonstrate just what Solstice are so good at as it keeps changing yet there is a continuity within, so it is easy to follow the path.

With the publicity and rich critical acclaim for 'Sia' one can only hope that progheads will look back further into the catalogue to understand more about one of the UK's more enjoyable prog bands, and this is a great place to start.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Andy Glass' Prog Folk project that he started in the 1980s finds new heights in this, his 21st Century incarnation of the band.

1. "Eyes Of Fire" (8:52) beautiful atmospheric keys with distant aboriginal chants open this before acoustic guitar plays arpeggi to get us ready for the gorgeous voice of lead singer Emma Brown. The vocal weave that slowly builds around Emma's lead is even more gorgeous. At 6:00 electric guitar begins a loud, slow solo which kind disrupts the Eden-like mood previously established. What is the band (Andy Glass) trying to say with this? Rock drums and bass join in as Andy wails plaintively, effectively emotional. Piano gets the next solo to finish gently. Beautiful. (19/20)

2. "Keepers of the Truth" (8:14) organ and strummed guitar are joined by "fiddle" and female vocals in a folk rock sound palette. Kind of a standard, dated song style, melody and sound. I do appreciate the less-is-more treatment of the tracks--everything is recorded in a kind of analog-sounding way rather digitally "perfected." Another surprisingly forward electric guitar solo begins at the three-minute mark and continues for 90 seconds before giving way to Herbie Hancock-like synth. Nothing very new or refreshing here--unless you're nostalgic for a 1970s hippie fest--like something from MANTRA VEGA or MOSTLY AUTUMN. (13/15) 3. "Warriors" (17:33) interesting polyphonic weave is slowly established before full prog rock walls of sound and Native American-sounding ulullating chants take over. Settling down into a more spacious weave Emma Brown enters singing in a kind of prayerful way with long, drawn out syllables, all. An instrumental section ensues with some nice soli from fiddle and electric guitar while rhythm section maintains its rather simple and straightforward (kind of boring--especially the bass) foundation. A bit of an Allman Brothers feel in the jam during the twelfth minute before everything stops and switches direction, establishing a slower, more folk spiritual style (that sounds a lot like some of the whole-troup chorus vocals from the musical Godspell or else from the ensemble cast of Polyphonic Spree or some other Southern white gospel choir). Multiple tracks are devoted to Andy's wailing electric guitars as they solo above, beneath, and within the choral vocals. Despite all the prolonged themes of the three sections filling these seventeen minutes, the song ends faster than expected. (30.5/35)

4. "West Wind" (11:05) soloing steel-string acoustic guitar over gently wafting synth washes and, later, beautiful Fender Rhodes play open this song for the first 2:15 before Emma enters singing in a gentle, soothing voice. Lovely and hypnotic. The lyrics seem to convey a naturistic message that is more associated with Celtic Prog musical traditions--which is, interestingly, fully borne out when Celtic instruments, organ, and then, heavy guitar and violin riffing join in. The vocals turn choral as the tension in the music builds. Now we're definitely in the Folk Rock territory pioneered by bands like Curved Air, Iona, Jethro Tull, and even the Strawbs. The power of the instrumentalists is matched and mixed quite perfectly with that of the choir. Andy Glass' searing guitar is supported quite nicely by the work of fiddler Jenny Newman and keyboardist Steve McDaniel. At 9:30 the tension is broken and we return to the dreamy Fender Rhodes-supported vocal section as in the opening. Great song! (18.5/20)

5. "Blackwater" (10:52) low electric guitar arpeggi establish a portentous, even ominous mood before joined by fiddle and drums. The drums are quite showy for the first 90 seconds before the rest of the band is welcomed into the mix. A somewhat Middle Eastern melodic theme is introduced--which then morphs into a kind of Hendrix- familiar motif by Andy's wailing electric guitar, but then he quickly gives it up for a kind of weave like a Celtic reel. The Hendrix motif returns in the fifth minute before giving way to a piano-based motif over which Emma eventually sings in a powerful, aggressive almost Annie Wilson way. Powerful. This is not what I was expecting from Solstice, but it really works! I am truly impressed with the versatility of Ms. Brown. At 7:05 the tempo slows as Emma switches to the long-drawn syllable approach to her delivery (as in the first part of "Warriors"). Man is she effective with this approach! And the band's weave in support is absolutely perfect! So powerful! And emotional! The smooth jazzy piano in the tenth minute is just icing on the cake as Emma soothes and comforts us with some soft background words repeated within the weave of electric guitar chords and fiddle play. Piano carries forward Emma's final melody line to the finish. Wow! I am moved! My final top three song on an album of very powerful music. (19.25/20)

- Bonus tracks (Steven Wilson re-masters): 6. Find Yourself (6:15) 7. Return of Spring (7:24) 8. Earthsong (6:32)

Total time 77:18

A-/five stars; a minor masterpiece of progressive rock music--and a real treat for any lover of Prog Folk music.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Prophecy or sound 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 compreh ... (read more)

Report this review (#1317378) | Posted by SteveG | Saturday, November 29, 2014 | Review Permanlink

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