21st June 2015 – Taklit Music
01. New Eyes
02. Forget You Ever Saw Us
03. Shuffle the Cards
04. Her Silent Silhouette
06. The Bargain
07. Acid Bath
09. An Oldie (But Your Kids Are Gonna Love It)
Israel is not exactly known as a hotbed of prog activity, but Tel Aviv’s Solstice Coil claim to be the first Israeli alt prog rock band formed on the internet, having formed all the way back in 2001. Whether that’s true or not, their biggest claim to fame so far is a video they did parodying Dream Theater‘s drummer audition. Dream Theater themselves loved the video enough to share it on their Facebook page and even screened it before going on for their show in Tel Aviv.
Solstice Coil have been sparse with their output since forming, but have gathered the material to release their third album Commute, dedicating it to Louis CK for no other reason than they “just think he’s a pretty cool guy” – clearly they don’t take themselves too seriously.
An intriguing mix of sounds, Commute pays reverence to the likes of Dream Theater and Porcupine Tree, but perhaps the biggest influence comes across in the mix of darker, moodier music and emotionally resonant lyrical themes – something for which Pain of Salvation are well known. This comes across especially on songs like “Meltdown” and “Her Silent Silhouette”.
There are some truly memorable moments – particularly on opener “New Eyes” – but other songs struggle to grasp a direction, as with “Shuffle The Cards“, and as such the album is spotty in places. Vocalist Shir Deutch works to his strengths with this track, but has a rougher and less versatile voice than Pain of Salvation’s Daniel Gildenlow, which lets down the comparison slightly, and sometimes he sounds as though he is a bit out of his element, such as on “An Oldie (But Your Kids Are Gonna Love It)”.
The recordings sound a bit on the rougher side; they’re not quite as polished as they could be, and the guitar tone is a little weak in more than a few places. There are also times when it almost seems like the drums aren’t quite right on the click. Smoothing out the recording process should be an aim for the future, as it detracts from the album experience overall.
Nevertheless, Commute is a pretty damn solid listen. Solstice Coil combine old school progressive metal, a more alt rock feeling, and melancholic overtones to create a very enjoyable listen. The recordings are a bit rough, and the songwriting is not amazing, but the band’s overall passion comes through, and there are some truly excellent moments on this album. Hardcore fans of progressive metal and rock should give this a shot; it is worth at least that.