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Solstice Coil - A Prescription For Paper Cuts

Artist: Solstice Coil
Title: A Prescription For Paper Cuts
Label: self produced
Length(s): 51 minutes
Year(s) of release: 2005
Month of review: [03/2006]

Line up

Shir Deutch - lead vocals, electric and acoustic guitars
Ofer Vishnia - lead guitars, e-bow, effects
Shai Yallin - synths, keyboards, piano
Diego Olschansky - bass
Uri Goldberg - drums
with
Oran Ben-Avi - saxes on 1, 7
Netta Cohen-Shani - cello on 9
Inbal Deutch - female vocals on 7
Hani Barmanski - female vocals on 6
Gil Natazon - spoken parts
Dorin Giladi - spoken parts
Marian Shay - spoken parts

Tracks

1) Photosensitivity 4.13
2) Caveat Emptor 1.33
3) Selling Smoke 9.09 MP3
4) Deep Child 6.15
5) Even Poets Die 7.18
6) Accidents 6.01
7) Enjoy The Ride 5.31
8) Anyone Can Be 6.45
9) Brilliance 4.48

Summary

It's not often that I review a band from Israel. Trespass was the first and last thus far. Now here we have Solstice Coil, who cite as their influences the big prog names from the past, but also Dream Theater, Radiohead, Muse and The Mars Volta. The band has existed since 2001, and this is their debut, recorded and produced wholly by themselves.

The music

Photosensitivity opens with sensitive piano play. The vocals of Deutch are on the high, ethereal side, echoey and slightly accented in places. There is a certain tension in this song, while the vocals go from high to low, a bit like with Muse, but less extreme. Then the powerful guitars set in, and the song obtains a strong drive, also from the saxophone. There are some surprising elements here: VDGG, Magma. An excellent beginning. Caveat Emptor is a short and dark instrumental, somewhere between dark ambient and industrial.

Tension is also to be felt on Selling Smoke, immediately from the opening guitar lines. The guitar is doubled, a wailing one comes to accompany the repetitive riff. In between we get question and answer singing (a bit Gentle Giantish), and the guitars can be quite heavy here. In the doubled vocal parts, the music is more ethereal, but the doubled vocals are that strong. From my first listens I remembered especially similarities to Radiohead, but to my ears, these seem to have gone now. The band is certainly more symphonic, a bit like Riverside, but more adventurous without giving up on good songs and melodies. The song has a powerful finale, with the vocalist going the direction of Muse, but with excellent backing vocals. Although I am reminded of the Belgian band The Same, the reference is likely to obscure to help anyone (sorry for that).

Deep Child is a bit more proggy still, largely due to the strong presence of organ. Later, the music tends to adventurous progmetal. Again, the band shows excellence on this song with some powerful, climactic progrock that does not owe much to anything, although can spot family ressemblances to the likes of Porcupine Tree and Muse.

Even Poets Die is a somber and relatively quiet tune, with subtle guitar work and the bass line repetitive and plainly audible in the other ear. Then the power sets in a bit more, and we obtain a noisy sound, a bit in the vein of the likes of American alternative rock. In between, the quieter passages are strongly atmospheric and slighly reminiscent of Radiohead. For the progpeople: we do get a keyboard solo towards the end, lined by some strong rolls on the drums. For the finale, the guitar goes all out, but we end in (s)low style.

Accidents opens lightly with repetitive play and a tragic vocalist. The first few minutes are relatively atsmopheric, but then the music is infused with energy, for instance by the drummer, and some female vocals that set in wailingly. Afterwards, the guitar takes the fore, repetitively, while the keyboard sound is really dated (but in a good way). The vocals are raw and aggressive here. Again, an excellent piece of work, rich in tension.

Enjoy The Ride is a moodier, softer track with tragic vocals. Again, I am reminded of The Same, because of the relatively alternative approach, and the use of many different voices in the vocals. The piano is the dominant element here, on this relatively quiet, but not easy track. At the end, the band takes a ninety degree turn, and the sax, drums and guitars make sure we have a pounding finale. Again, I am reminded of VDGG.

Anyone Can Be has the combination of acoustic guitars and a flamenco style, wailing electric guitar part. A sharp piece of music, somewhat psychedelic overall, with very proggy keyboard solo's. Brilliance is a stately piece, with rolling drums, and rather vague vocals. The song is among the softer ones, slightly ethereal even with vibes and some nice cello to establish the ambiance.

Conclusion

This band lies somewhere between some relatively popular bands in the rock genre: Anathema, Porcupine Tree and Muse. In between, the band has not forgotten its heritage from the past and I hear echoes of VDGG and even Magma. The end result, is a progrock take on Muse, but with the songwriting style of bands like Porcupine Tree and Anathema (including progmetal guitars). Their are pure pieces of symphonic rock as well, including a number of full keyboard solo's. The music is rich in tension, richer than for instance Porcupine Tree, and not as over the top, vocally for instance, as Muse. As such, I expect this band to make quite a name for itself in the near future. Hopefully, a good label will pick them up, or at least I hope their album will have the right distribution.

© Jurriaan Hage