Solace of Requiem - _Casting Ruin_
(ViciSolum Productions, 2014)
by: Chaim Drishner (8.5 out of 10)
_Casting Ruin_ is the forth album of a relatively unknown American trio that goes by the name Solace of Requiem: an incredibly technical, heavy and intelligent band that push the boundaries of tech death metal into the next level.

This album is one mean, complex, stupefying and brutal motherfucker; a challenging listening experience if there ever was one. Not exactly on par with Gorguts' timeless album _Obscura_, and not as dissonant nor as extreme for sure, but it pretty much is the closest thing to the ultimate, fucked up technical death metal experience you'll hear this year. If technical death metal bands had to be scored according to actually how technical they are, the level of musical gymnastics exploited and displayed on _Casting Ruin_ would get a straight A. But technique is not a standalone issue here, but rather how well it is being incorporated into the fabric of the music and to what degree it complements or synergizes the music and allows it to still sound like music, rather than like some soulless clockwork mechanism. Well, in that regard _Casting Ruin_ manages to pull off just that without compromising either factor.

Anyone who still remembers the blinding, ripping ferocity of Swedish band Mutant's _The Aeonic Majesty_ from 2001, could draw some parallel lines between both albums. The hyper blasts combined with slower and complex drum work, searing guitars of the clinical kind and the high pitched screamer that tingles the black metal spectrum, whenever he's not preoccupied with his guttural throat performance, are all projecting an immediate mental picture of the only album Mutant have unfortunately recorded in their short history.

Add to the formula the majestic complexity of Theory in Practice's magnum opus from 1999, _The Armageddon Theories_, where brutality and finesse intermingled impressively, displaying an album of Stygian beauty that even by today's standards is virtually impossible to imitate, and you'd have a vague idea of what _Casting Ruin_ is all about.

From the highly intelligent futuristic lyrics (that often seem like a total stream-of-consciousness writing that's really hard to follow), to the instrument handling (nothing programmed other than the sound bites mostly present on each track's opening, although it seems so given the precision of the mechanical drumming), to the visionary stance of taking metal music to the next plane of existence and creating a form of almost abstract sonic apocalypse; _Casting Ruin_ is portraying a bleak future of bio-mechanical entities and humanoids being humankind's fate and ultimately its doom (the advents of which we see even today with all those smartphone zombies walking around with blank eyes and tilted heads) -- the kind of death metal Solace of Requiem produce matches that futuristic message to the core.

Never explicit, the science fiction / space references are released in measured quantities, embedded discretely into the metallic barrage of serpentine, riff-less music; a sample here, a keyboard stroke there, an industrial sound effect on another occasion; but those are enough to render the music more than just being technical death metal done well. Think of Nocturnus and how they managed to transcend their metal into stranger, uncharted realms of music, sublimating their metal of death with those spacey, crazy synthesizers, creating textures of dark beauty that were foreign to the old school death metal movement of that era; now you'll appreciate Solace of Requiem even more, because they exhibit the same 'spacey' character by using only a fraction of those much accentuated keyboards, and all the while being ten-fold heavier and faster than Nocturnus; and yet, that reference occasionally springs into mind while listening to _Casting Ruin_. The other reference, deriving directly from the 'classic' guitar leads, is Death, the band; whenever those leads appear, one cannot help but think about these death metal legends, maybe because the leads posses an innate Middle-Eastern flavor, the kind of arabesque scales that had been Chuck Schuldiner's favourite kind.

Solace of Requiem's fourth studio album is not so much after atmospherics (it virtually possesses none) as it is after pursuing the arousal of the intellect; its complex song structures coupled with the robotic playing and the sheer enormity of the music render it almost cacophonous and ugly, but when the mind accommodates to the sonic display and overcomes the challenge of listening to the album from beginning to end, the surges of total nihilistic abstract manifested by peaks of alleged utter cacophony, become clearer and less insulting; as if, after cooling the brain a tad, one can begin processing those extreme, alienating ideas and sounds, and translate them into something the mind can understand and relate to.

These kinds of albums are a bitch to review, because writing about them is as challenging as listening to them; they posses beyond-human capabilities and metaphysical characteristics, we humble humans are not accustomed to. The refined, mathematical precision and beyond-complex, chaotic nature of the recording raises a bar so high, it is close to impossible to describe such an album adequately.

No hooks will you find here, nor melody of the traditional, orthodox kind; even precise, specific pigeonholing this menacing machine of mind-numbing abilities wouldn't be an easy task; nevertheless, this album is amazing for its non-musicality and maximum brutality, an alchemical combination capable of producing such a potent, engaging and unique a musical beast whose hidden beauty and highly advanced thinking invested in its creation become ever so clearer with each additional listening session. We assume you will go from "What the fuck is this shit?" to "Wow, what the fuck is -this- amazing shit?!" when you will have completed four listening sessions, pause for a little while with every completion of a session and let the reverberating echoes sink slowly into your intellect, until the full scale of this mammoth recording will reveal itself to you.

This album is everything a good technical death metal album should sound like, but like nothing this reviewer has ever heard before. Get this album now!

Contact: http://www.vicisolum.com/

(article published 7/7/2014)


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