Sölicitör – Spectral Devastation Review

I’m an extremely boring person. I don’t like to go very far to get want I want. Staycations are my jam, and I consider it providence that I get to be an adult in the era of Uber Eats, DoorDash, and Instacart. When I “went away” to college, I moved all of 13 miles and instead of partying, I spent 50% of my time playing video games with my roommate and 50% of my time hanging out with my high school girlfriend, the eventual Mrs. Holdeneye. 2019 was a dream for me when it came to reviews: nearly 20% of the albums I covered were released by bands within 150 miles of my house, and of those several can be found in my own Puget Sound area of Western Washington. Quayde LaHüe and Mortiferum impressed me, and the now infamous “Skelator Incident” induced heretofore unseen levels of arousal and nearly resulted in my actual firing from this site. Naturally, I couldn’t resist the temptation to grab the debut of Seattle’s Sölicitör.

After a 2019 EP composed of pure speed metal, Sölicitör’s sound has evolved into a delightful blend of classic styles that can be tough to nail down with a single genre tag — much like their label mates, my beloved Skelator.1 So I’ll keep things simple: they play fucking metal. The band have added thrash and traditional metal accents to their speed metal base, and the result is Spectral Devastation: eight tracks and 39 minutes of blistering 80s majesty. Stellar guitar duo Matt Vogan and Patrick Fry obviously graduated summa cum LOUD in Classic Metal Studies as the intro chords of “Blood Revelations” recall vintage Priest, the main riff and chaotic solo will make you feel like you can and should kill ’em all, and the overall energy and the lyrics themselves (“Speed — the unstoppable force!”) seem to pay homage to speed metal giants Agent Steel. And that’s just the beginning. “Betrayer” brings some soaring Maiden energy, “The Red Queen” lands in the epic speed metal territory of Running Wild, and the album closes in violent fashion with the Venomous “Spectre of War” and the Slayer-esque thrash of “Grip of the Fist” — and somehow Sölicitör combines all of these styles into a cohesive sound, giving them an immediately potent sense of identity on their debut.

But the aspect of Sölicitör’s sound that sets them apart from most new olde bands is the voice of Amy Lee Carlson. This lady has some serious pipes. Picture what might possibly result from Heart’s Ann Wilson, Savatage’s Jon Oliva, and the Metal God Rob Halford himself somehow combining their essences into one through some sort of Satanic ritual. Carlson thrives whether climbing the scales in NWoBHM fashion or employing her venomous snarl for the thrashier bits. “Night Vision” may be the best example of her vocal dominance. After the song’s classical guitar intro, she unleashes a massive, reverberating “oooOOOHH, YEAH!!!” as she begins a classic metal vocal masterclass that sees her adding some of the insane Oliva vibrato to her impressive snarl and infusing the chorus with malevolent energy. Carlson is an incredible talent, and her powerful presence immediately elevates Sölicitör’s already good material to greatness.

Everything about Spectral Devastation — the style, the songwriting, the production — contributes to the record landing like the genuine article. This doesn’t feel like yet another 80s clone, in fact it’s more like a refreshing drink of unholy water scooped straight out of the fountain of classic trve metal. I love hearing a new record that makes me think I’m listening to an old record, and that’s part of what makes Sölicitör so intoxicating. Some listeners may think that a minute could be trimmed here or there (the intro and outro of “The Red Queen” for example) to make the album even more lean and mean, but I’ve come to embrace just about every second as each contributes to the massive throwback appeal of the entire package. I’ve found myself air-guitaring and air-singing to every track here, but “The Red Queen,” “Leathür Streets,” “Night Vision,” “Spectres of War,” and “Grip of the Fist” are absolute killers.

Almost exactly a year ago, Bewitcher delivered unto me a PNW2 heavy/speed masterpiece just in time for summer, and it seems as if Sölicitör has seen fit to do the same in 2020. Spectral Devastation is the sound of heavy metal boiled down to its essence thanks to superb songwriting and the performance of one of the most impressive true metal vocalists active in the scene right now: Amy Lee Carlson. I fully expect to be spinning this deep into list season. 4.Öldeneye has spoken.

Rating: 4.Ö/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Gates of Hell Records
Websites: solicitor-speedmetal.bandcamp.com | www.facebook.com/solicitor.speedmetal
Releases Worldwide: April 24th, 2020

Show 2 footnotes

  1. I had a chance to see both bands on the same bill in Seattle this past November and missed it because I’m a fucking poser.
  2. Pacific North Waste according to Sölicitör’s social media.
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