Album Review: Solemn – Road to Reform

Solemn [TAIWAN]
Road to Reform
Full Length
Melodic Death Metal

Solemn is a melodic death metal band which was formed back in 2003 by lead guitarist Zac Shen & bassist Ray Wu, who was later joined by vocalist Wendy Hsu. Solemn enjoyed increased popularity in Taiwan, due to their appearance on major festivals like Formoz Festival & Free Tibet Festival in 2009. In 2009, the band went on to record their first full length which is entitled “Road To Reform

The album itself starts off with the sound of an airplane taking flight before a heavy riff kicks into the song proper. Wendy growls like any other good death metal growlers out there, leaving the listener confused when the clean vocals come in (and subsequently realizing that vocal duties are handled by a female!). What really captured me on the songs was how Wendy handled her clean singing. Unlike most female clean vocalists that focus on singing the operatic style, Wendy’s clean singing sounds more of a straightforward rock-chick style. (Think female powerhouse vocals, like The Iron Maidens!)

There are a few metalcore-ish breakdowns here and there throughout the album but this does not reduce or impact the music of Solemn much, given the standard of the musicians present in the band. One thing that i noticed though is that there are too few guitar solos in the songs, leaving the two guitarists little space to display their talent on their instruments. Even when solos kicked in on certain tracks, they was short with not much fanciful techniques that are so prominent in so many metal bands nowadays.

It seems to me that the music by Solemn focuses more on the emotions of the songs rather than the technical bits, especially on the cleans parts of some songs. While the music was fast, on these tracks the listener can hear the despair in her voice, backed by the melodic guitar lines played at the background.

I have to say though, the production of the album is top notch, with famed Anthelion front man, Code at the producer’s seat. Overall this album is a must-listen for fans of heavy palm-muting, chugging guitar music and who are looking for a refreshing take on melodic death metal from Asia.

Solemn will be performing at Scape Lab on 24th July 2010 for the Truth Be Known EP launch. More information here.

Solemn on MySpace.

Related articles:
Interview with Solemn

©2010 Heavy Metal Tribune

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