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Featuring two ex-members of technical/prog metallers Biomechanical, drummer Matt C and guitarist Chris Webb, they've carried over their tech-metal aesthetic into new outfit Solsikk. With bassist Mark Mulcaster and vocalist Vykki Turner completing the lineup, the London-based band have unleashed their self-titled debut album on Femme Metal Records and it's a release that I've been struck with ambivalence when trying to summarise my feelings towards the music. Having caught them live earlier this year at the Femme Metal Fest with a rather impressive performance chock-full of musical dynamism and onstage energy, their songs in the recorded form don't quite capture the intensity of their show. The production and mix on the album are very good. Not amazing by any means, but certainly well above average. I think what doesn't quite do it for me is the sporadically misplaced fusion of rock/metal elements. More specifically, when Turner opts for a rock delivery over songs' full-on technical metal foundations, it sounds a little disjointed - 'Needles and Pins' being a prime example. From memory, this worked so much better live. That said, she displays a wide range of singing styles from rap and balladic to a more aggressive delivery and, when it works, it works a treat, just not always. And I don't mean to be overly critical of her rockier delivery as it's consistently note-perfect, powerful and with a tonally wide range, rather it's occasionally at odds with the music over which she sings. It could be argued that this lends the overall effect a little more originality, and it does, but the music is fairly innovative in its own right already so it's a shame that it's not always accompanied by a more apposite and efficacious vocal style. Okay, that's my main criticism out of the way so onto the positives. The tracks themselves are amazing with high levels of musicianship balanced out perfectly against some innovative, yet accessible, songwriting - one is never sacrificed for the other. And it's not all wild technicality (of which Solsikk do so flawlessly); they're not afraid to interject songs with moments of thrash, groove and rock. There's even a fucking power ballad, 'Cut a Little Deeper', which is actually rather incredible (albeit with a pre-chorus melody line that sounds a little bit too familiar), and provides Turner with the opportunity to exercise a different side to her voice. Overall, for a debut offering, Solsikk's album is generally of a very high standard - in terms of both musicianship and songwriting. If they can just refine their mismatched elements between particular passages of music and the vocal styles, they'd be capable of making an amazing album. As such, this one is just great with, I hope, an amazing album to come with their sophomore full-length.
Femme Metal Records
Review by Mark Holmes
1) Relish in Nervous Delights
2) Viridescere
3) Keep Pushing Me
4) Freefall
5) Cut a Little Deeper
6) Your Blistering Tongue
7) Needles and Pins
8) Razored Cell
9) Volatile Territory
10) Bloodlust
"...high levels of musicianship balanced out perfectly against some innovative, yet accessible, songwriting - one is never sacrificed for the other."