Eleven long years after their last full-length studio release, Floridian act Solstice makes a glorious comeback with Casting the Die (Emanzipation Productions), reuniting founder members Alex Marquez and Dennis Munoz for the first time since 1995’s Pray (Steamhammer SPV).
A lean, technical and aggressive beast, Casting… is aided in no small part by the addition of Malevolent Creation frontman Ryan Taylor whose savage hardcore-infused vocals help launch songs like opener ‘The Altruist’ and ‘Transparent’ off the deep end with maximum ferocity. Bass player Marcel Salas makes his presence felt immediately, the exceptionally talented four-stringer strutting his funky stuff on the chaotic but progressively tinted ‘Who Bleeds Whom’.
Marquez’s drums take centre stage on ‘Lifeline’, his rhythmic pounding relentlessly brutal and always in total control. The perfectly titled ‘Ignite’ sounds like a violent altercation between Atheist and Earth Crisis while songs like ‘Seven’, ‘Embellishment Exposed’ and ‘Outlast’ somehow manage to be just as, if not even more explosive. Meanwhile, ‘Cast the Die’ and ‘Eyes Sewn Shut’ sound like two particularly argumentative bulls in search of the nearest china shop, while belligerent closer ‘Scratch’ is the debris-strewn aftermath.
An eclectic but perfectly weighted mix of thrash, progressive death metal, and hardcore, the riffs come thick and fast, sometimes chugging with a rigid groove, other times off-kilter and punctuated by some surprising flourishes. The solos, like Salas’s bass work, are nothing short of exquisite, shifting between effortlessly smooth and piercingly sharp at any given moment giving Casting the Die a progressive, technical accessibility while the drums and Taylor’s abrasive vocals ensure that none of the band’s ruthless, harder edge is lost even for an instant.
Buy the album here: https://emanzipation.bandcamp.com/album/casting-the-die
8 / 10