Sunken State – Solace in Solitude Review

I’ll be frank: I ain’t the biggest metalcore fan. I think the last time I grabbed a metalcore promo was Trivium’s 2015 bore, Silence in the Snow. Though childhood friends and siblings surrounded me with the stuff, the only two metalcore releases that stuck were Trivium’s Shogun and God Forbid’s IV:  Constitution of Treason. And, depending on the mood, As I Lay Dying. The rest ain’t my bag. The reason I grabbed Sunken State’s debut record was mainly for the vocal performances. It’s an interesting melding of barks, rasps, and shouts. Solace in Solitude also combines their metalcore sound with melodeath, Lamb of God groove, and subtle hints of death metal. It’s an interesting combination of elements—especially for a band from South Africa.

While most of the vocals have that bully-core approach, there’s a smattering of blackened rasps and filthy death barks. There are even moments of emotion-filled The Ocean cleans. The opener, “Beg for Mercy,” is a good representation of the harsh rasps intermingling with the tough-guy grunts. The songwriting itself is a fun combination of Throwdown and Unearthed. “Swindler” follows up the opener as it assimilates Trivium gallops and Soilwork-like melodeath atmospheres. The melodics and emotion erupt beautifully at the end. But not before we experience the vocal’s gnarly death side.

The two songs that bring all the band’s vocal stylings together are “Separation Has Begun” and “This Is the End.” They are also my favorites on the record. The opening to “Separation Has Begun” stands out for having the power and energy of IV: Constitution of Treason. Those opening vocals cause goosebumps to form up and down my arms. And The Ocean-esque layerings in the chorus make my head swim. While you get a nice mix of everything in this song, it leans heavily on the cleaner vox. “This Is the End,” on the other hand, is a dealer of rasps and death gargles. It’s a monstrous track that shows a different side of the band.

Interestingly enough, the band comes as close to death metal as they can with “Chaos & Turmoil.” Well, except for the fact that the opening riffs sound like Slipknot. And though it has some interesting ferocity, it’s horribly out-of-place on the album. The band also feels like it’s out of its comfort zone. This isn’t a bad thing, but, again, this doesn’t feel like a song that should be on Solace in Solitude. Other complaints are the completely worthless instrumental, “Interlude.” Not because it’s a shit song. Quite the opposite, actually. But, it would have made a better opener than an interlude. Especially being the song preceding “Chaos & Turmoil.”

The album also suffers from the Predictability of Metalcore. That concept where you suffer through something not all that interesting until you get to the breakdown. Then, you’re banging your head off. You make a note to return to the song later, only to have it happen all again. If the last forty seconds of “Burn Society” is all you got, it would be a better song.

All said and done, I don’t love or hate Solace in Solitude. It has some pleasing pieces and some filler. I think those times when they hit hard but still incorporate melody are the best. The songwriting isn’t remarkable, but it’s got the groove when it needs it. And most of the breakdowns have the traditional punch. The vocals are probably the most interesting part of the album, and it shows potential. Again, I’m not a huge fan of the genre, but I’d actually check these guys out again in the future.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Plug Music Agency
Releases Worldwide: June 11th, 2021

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