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Winter Solstice - The Fall Of Rome
by Joannie Foney

Ri fi jeffer suh vuh suff! Is a universal sentiment I'm sure we all agree with. Having said that mouthful, rest assured that the vocalist for the most excellent thrash band, Winter Solstice, sings many other pithy truisms along those lines.
I don't know about you, but I like my metal to thrash & amuse me at the same time. As I was chortling over how incomprehensible Matt Tarpey's singing was, even while singing & speaking rather than screaming, I was checking out their website. What an excellent idea for an album!  These guys aren't morons!! This release is centered around the fall of the Roman Empire & how eerily similar today's America is to yesterday's Rome. Think about that, we got the same welfare system, the same obsession with entertainment, the same national arrogance about everything, the same everything. If a brilliant concept album & hysterically funny vocals were all Winter Solstice had to offer, I'd still want you to rush out & buy this album, and reward these guys for encouraging you to think along these true & chilling lines, no sense just banging your head, use your brain while thrashing! Do this while having a good laugh as you discover these guys in their infancy. 
Thankfully, there is so much musical excellence on here that humor & intellect aren't the only forces operating behind the scenes. Y'know, I'm such the wrong person to review thrash albums, I just love it all. I'm a sucker for this type of stuff, release a thrash album, I guarantee I'll slobber all over it. But this album is really good, even if you hated thrash you'd have to admit it! (Probably). The guitars sound like Slayer on major speed, the arrangements are clever & creative, the breaks are good, the phrasings are totally unique, there is so much variety & excellence crammed into the first half of the first song I am amazed all the members of the band even managed to finish the entire song rather than just collapsing into an exhausted heap midway through it. I wonder if they had to take a month to record each song, to be sure they got enough rest in between? I wonder if part of their recording budget included an ambulance & cardiologist on standby to revive them in case of heart failure or collapse? I wonder how they manage to play their instruments when their fingers are numb & tingling from Carpal Tunnel, and I wonder how old they were when this debilitating syndrome set in? 
The 2nd song "Calibrate The Virus" featured Matt's speaking a portion of the song. Amazingly, it was hard to figure out even what he was saying even then. This is a strong song, though, with incredibly fast everything. It's the skill of the others in the band that results in the focus being on the music, rather than on the vocals. " Watcher" had such an interesting intro that made this song memorable to me. By the fourth song, "Courtesy Bow," I was starting to feel guilty about cracking on the guy's vocals. Maybe he's from another country? No, guess not. Every song on here is original sounding, very well executed, & impressive. This is a CD I will be playing for a long time & recommending. The title track almost doesn't fit, it's just too pretty. It just goes to prove these guys diversity & ability to play their chosen weapons well, not at just the bone breaking stuff, but at the lighter stuff too. As far as that thought is concerned, it fits well with the overall album. "Malice In Wonderland " was so catchy I wondered how they managed to write something like this- they don't want to be dismissed as fast noise, that's not what they're all about.  
To listen to the entire album in one sitting is a hard thing to do. With 3 songs to go I was tired of listening to it, really tired. There is so much energy crammed in this it just makes me exhausted listening to it. I didn't hear a single borrowed note anywhere on here, the instruments are all played very well, by pros who know what they're doing. Some make this kinda music look easy, Winter Solstice makes it sound too hard, too fast, too complicated for mere amateurs to bother. They play so well together, none of them lags behind the others or tries to outdo their band mates. Even the funny vocals fit this band perfectly. I don't mind this style of vocals, it goes with the territory. But still, to come up with such a brilliant idea to write songs based on, then not sing them so listeners can be dazzled by the lyrics was an odd decision. But, then again, look at sucktallica, so quick to bend over & cater to every moron with an opinion & lotsa money in their quest for fame & fortune, WS would be wise to just keep doing what obviously sounds perfect for them.
I don't know how many stars to give it- a bunch; but I'm so biased that just wouldn't be right. Well, 3 1/2 is probably fair.

Winter Solstice - The Fall Of Rome
Label: Metal Blade
1. Following Caligula        
2. Calibrate The Virus        
3. Watcher        
4. Courtesy Bow        
5. The Fall Of Rome        
6. Malice In Wonderland        
7. 55/23        
8. The Hampton Roads Fourth Annual Parade Of The Blind        
9. To The Nines        
10. L'aeroport  

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