Solution .45 - Nightmares in the Waking State Pt. IWhy is everything in my November promo bin a part I or IV of something bigger? I’m starting to feel like I’m trapped at the Third-Tier Fantasy Fiction Fan Con and I’m dreading what lurks around the next corner. Will it be The Atomic Dragon Bosoms of Gefilte Pt. VII? The Purple Cloak of Chromatic Unicorn Fabulousness Pt. X?  Can’t we just do one-off albums again, people? Phew, okay, now that my Astral Rage of Unihorns is under control again, here we have the long-awaited sophomore album by Solution .45. For those not up on their Swedish metalcore-tinged melo-death, this is the band started by Christian Alvestam after he left Scar Symmetry. As a fan of his work with the Symmetrical Ones, I enjoying his 2010 For Aeons Past debut due to the similarities to his former band and despite the core-ish tendencies at the root of the sound. Now he’s back with the first part of what will naturally be a double album (Pt II will drop sometime later). Why a double album? The usual story: band goes into writing mode, develops a shit-ton of music and can’t stand to waste one note of it (see Iron Maiden, really see Swallow the Sun). Is this another tragic example of ego above discretion and moderation? Let’s discuss.

Solution .45 traffics in the same sound and approach as Mercenary, Soilwork and of course, Scar Symmetry, while doing precious little to expand the scope of said style. Instead they focus on making it as punchy and catchy as they can while sprinkling in little elements of latter day Dark Tranquillity. When this all works, Nightmares is easy to digest and full of baited hooks waiting for an open mouth to snag. Opener “Wanderer From the Fold” is catchy in all the same ways as their last album was, with a more prevalent Dark Tranquillity undercurrent. The heaviness factor should be sufficient to offset the core-isms and it’s hard to dislike Christian’s excellent mix of clean singing, screaming and death roars. “Perfecting the Void” is the kind of song Scar Symmetry rolled out regularly and it works here too. It’s heavy and loaded with nasty death croaks but then explodes into a big, saccharine-sweet chorus that hooks you not matter how much you resist. The same goes for “Bleed Heavens Dry” and “Winning Where Losing is All” which both excel at this style, plying you angry, core-ish riffing and harsh vocals then smacking you with mega-melodic chorus breaks.

Unfortunately, the second half of Nightmares is significantly weaker with fewer standout moments, which is probably an ill omen for a double album. While “Targeting Blaze” is fairly interesting and uses a bit of electronica to shake things up, tracks like “Alter the Unbearable Weight of Nothing” and “Wield the Scepter” are overly generic mid-period Soilwork clones, and Christian’s emo-boy whining on the latter is quite annoying. The nearly twelve minute closer “I Nemesis” is better, but obviously very long in the tooth when it doesn’t need to be and though there are some nice moments, it’s not as effective as the album’s earlier material. Adding insult to injury, the sound is predictably brickwalled all to hell, with the guitars sounding very compressed and loud. I’ve certainly heard worse, but the mix doesn’t do the album any favors.

Solution .45_2015

As with any Christian Alvestam project, you come for the vocals and stay for the melo-core. The man is gifted with a respectable death croak and he can certainly go screamo with anyone, but he can also sing much better than many vocalists in this genre. He sounds good on most of the songs, though his attempts at a more emo style fall flat. I appreciate his regular use of low-register grunts and at times he adopts a style very similar to Mikael Stanne (Dark Tranquillity) which is always a good thing. The guitars are handled by Jani Stefanovic and newcomer Patrik Gardberg and they stay pretty close to the Scar Symmetry playbook with a series of thick, often staccato riffs. These get tedious over an album’s length but they do mix in some proggy touches, especially on “Altering the Unbearable.” It’s very clear they can play well, but a lot of what they do is very predictable and safe.

Nightmares in the Waking State Pt. I is not as memorable as For Aeons Past and lacks the same staying power, but when it’s catchy, it’s very catchy. Basically, this is half an album of quality music and I can only assume the other half will appear whenever Pt. II shows up. With so much time in the hopper lately ranting about album length, I’ll just leave you with that thought and go look for an extra short EP or something. Godspeed and go single!


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: AFM Records
Websites: solution45.com | facebook.com/solution.45.official
Releases Worldwide: November 20th, 2015

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  • mindbleach

    I’ll give this a try but their first album did nothing for me, and I loved Alvestam’s work is Scar Symmetry. Just felt like a whole lot of technically fine songs without any spark. The track of this I heard in advance was just the same sort of thing, which is a shame. I actually thought Scar Symmetry’s latest was great as well. As much as people dig on the two vocalists they got to replace Alvestam, they’re decent enough and the last two albums very enjoyable…

  • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

    My God a double album of Solution .45 is a terrible idea. It’s like holding some sort of skill-based contest and then just giving everyone the prize because they showed up.

    • Participation trophies?? Perish the thought!

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Don´t they say “Showing up is half the battle”? Maybe they deserve just half the prize?

    • One More Thing

      Just wait until they blindside you with a surprise third disc. Swallow the Solution.

  • Thatguy

    Love his voice, but the first album was just OK and nothing in this review makes me think this will be better. So, thanks, SD, I’ll save my time and money.

  • Pablo Casado Gañarul

    If you think a triple album is a good idea, the best solution is a .45 Solution… Thank you ladies and gentlemen! I’m even better in spanish!

    With that awesome joke out of my system, I’ll say that the embedded track starts great, the screams are tight and right up my alley but when he changes his voice I can’t shake the feeling that the band becomes a jack-of-all-trades and I have to say that the review nails the fact that he sings WAAAAAAY better than the competition.

  • testiklees

    Scar Symmetry is nothing without him. and Sol .45 isn’t much better. ‘Tis a damn shame.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Sepultura-Soulfly Syndrome?

      • testiklees

        Bingo.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Before even reading the review, I had to scroll to the bottom and say that this cover is freaking awesome! Teenager Me would have bought this album because of the cover without even listening to one song.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Hello Steel Druhm, Diabolus In Muzaka… I just wanted to ask what do you mean by “long in the tooth”?
    Both of you have used this phrase recently to describe songs. English is not my first language but as I understood, “long in the tooth” is an euphemism for “old”. I don´t think you mean the songs are old, right?

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Yes thats right but it’s also commonly used as an expression when suggesting something is ‘getting old’ i.e. the subject has stuck around longer than than it probably should have.

      • Yep, I mean it as so long it gets dull and old and worn out.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    I didn’t know Christian Alvestam was in this band. I know him from his work in Torchbearer, an underrated band where he did a great job. I have barely listened to any Scar Simmetry but whenever I think of Christian Alvestam I remember a quote from Metal Maniacs magazine about Taneli Jarva from Sentenced: “A man so kickass they had to hire two guys to replace him” and basically that´s what happened with Alvestam in Scar Simmetry.

  • Decepticon! Run!

  • Wish Alvestam would stop fucking around with other bands and finish the fourth Unmoored album (or work on a new Sot album), which is where his talents are best shown.

  • Shawn Cypher

    For Aeons Past is really good, in my opinion, so I look forward to this release!

  • Lasse Momme

    those fucking clean vocals…. ruining perfectly fine metal songs since 1995.

  • Zadion

    Christian Alvestam is positively my favorite vocalist and has been since I discovered Scar Symmetry back in ’06. I always check out his new releases for the vocals if nothing else, and I loved For Aeons Past. Unfortunately, I have to agree with this review, at least to a part. Christian’s vocals are as amazing as ever but this time around it just doesn’t seem like enough. His Self 2.0 solo EP was honestly better.

  • Axel Razorback

    maybe the approach is the same, but Mercenary’a albums are much better than that one.

  • Grawmps

    Alvestam’s voice is so good you can forgive the formulaic nature of anything he happens to sing on. Nobody can touch those cleans, lol! I’d give this more of a 3.5, while For Aeons Past was about a 4.