Title:Nightmares In The Waking State - Part II
Genre:Melodic Death Metal
SOLUTION .45 first came to my attention back in 2010, the year in which they released their debut album, “For Aeons Past”. You can read my review from that period here. This album was a very positive surprise. I recently listened to some DIVINEFIRE again, Stefanovic’s other band, and the music is quite similar, not only because of Stefanovic’s fat guitar sound, but also because Thomas “Plec” Johansson handled the buttons in the studio, as he also did for SOLUTION .45 and many other bands.
I didn’t follow up on the band’s further releases, specifically “Nightmares In The Waking State – Part I”, which came out in 2015. It is said that, at the time, the band had enough songs for a double album. But they found it “more interesting” (marketing, as they call it) to release the songs as two separate albums, due to the musical differences between both releases. As the band describes the albums theme: “Lyrically its core matter is based around ‘struggle’ and the art of fighting your way through the tough times in life.”
I haven’t heard the first part, but I did hear the second one, which came out on 26th August 2016. Like on the first part, this one contains ten songs, or rather, tracks. The intro “Dim Are The Pathways” has an industrial touch at first, going into cinematic mode and growing until… “The Faint Pulse Of Light” kicks in. Nothing faint about this track. It’s direct and straight-forward, sounding heavy and fat. Vocalist Christian Älvestam (ex-SCAR SYMMETRY) is known for mixing clean and extreme vocals, but here he leaves out the cleans, even in the melodic chorus. The solo moment is preceded by a calmer part and forms the bridge to the last round of hard-hitting heaviness. All in all, very tasty material.
“Mind Mutation” could indicate a dystopian, horror-like scenario and the first notes do present such a kind of atmosphere. This midtempo groover has Christian’s monstrous vocals, which go well with the dark atmosphere of the music. This song also had many layers to make it more alive and melodic in the chorus. And here you do get cleans and growls. The tempo drops a little in the bridge, while it drops even more (going into Doom Metal mode?) in the second part of the song. Emotion is key here, as the music was clearly defined to express this kind of feeling. Not what you would call a “happy happy, joy joy” song.
“Built On Sand” might fool you into thinking it’s a ballad, at least based on the first part. But then madness takes over, with a hint of neo-classical influence. This track is quite chaotic, the way the music is composed. What a difference with, for example, FREEDOM CALL. Mind you, I like FREEDOM CALL; I was merely referring to the difference in music. Vocally you get the combination of cleans and growls, especially in the chorus. Contrast is one of the terms that can be applied to this song. At some point, the band throws in some Progressive touches. Keyboards are vital for the atmospheric input, while the djenty (by lack of a better word) guitar work can not be ignored. Solos are added, too, as guitar and keyboard take turns.
SOLUTION .45 is not 100% a Melodic Death Metal band, as the focus lies mainly on groove and modern influences. That’s where “Inescapable Dream” stand out from the others. Clean singing, melodic backing and a chopping rhythm guitar in the verses, going into a Thrashy pre-chorus with growls, to allow full melodic power be unleashed in the chorus, where clean singing replaces the growls. However, this time the chorus comes across as Poppy and happy. At least to my ears.
As with every album out there, one song’s better than the other. Here as well, as “The Curse That Keeps On Giving” was less to my liking. It begins with calm music and adjusted (soft) singing. Full musical power, albeit dramatic and emotional, is let out as the chorus. The pattern returns in a slightly heavier version and more active (the solo plays a role here). Afterwards, calmness sets in again… to return to full form for another solo round. The chorus may be emotional, but I found it rather whiny.
Luckily there’s “Chain Connector” to bring the band back on track. At first, a spooky intro (piano), announcing the evil from the murky depths. And so the power of Metal cannot be contained. Aggressive music, aggressive vocals. Hide your children! Clean singing does occur, but in the second half, to contrast with the music. Considering the theme, it’s a good choice. As the song started, so it ends.
The bombastic, mid-tempo track “What Turns The Wheels” also features symphonic elements. It could even have been a DIVINEFIRE song. The verses are calm, the chorus is where full power comes out. Clean vocals are key here. After the obligatory solo, there’s a decrease in “metalness”, so to speak. This classic trick was also elsewhere applied. It allows for a bit of mystery before returning to full form. Buckle up then for “Misery Mantra”: a wild, active, powerful, and bombastic song. Christian’s monstrous vocals have also returned. Somehow this song made me think of METALLICA’s “Enter Sandman”, but SOLUTION .45 has a heavier sound. They even incorporated melodic Black Metal-ish touches before the chorus, where clean vocals lead and an organ operates from the back. Pretty good stuff, overall. I’m positively surprised.
Last but not least and certainly not most: “Heavy Lies The Crown”. The beginning sounds psychedelic, but in a Metal jacket. The atmospheric aspect is crucial, certainly at this point, as is the soft, clean singing. This differs from the power outburst that follows, while the melodic and emotional levels are maintained. The chorus is, again, of the Poppy kind. Instrumental talk is for the last part of the song, where the forces of the dark take over command. It sounds as if someone’s in agony and/or fighting demons. An ok song, but not as attractive as the others, in my opinion. Music remains a subjective matter, one way or another.
“For Aeons Past” was a nice surprise at the time and it still delivers the goods. The band didn’t change style on “Nightmares In The Waking State – Part I”: the grooving, the thrashing, the bombast, the melodies, … it’s all there (I briefly checked on YouTube). As this newest release is the follow-up, or the twin, of “Nightmares In The Waking State – Part I”, and if you liked the first one, I don’t see why you shouldn’t like “Part II”.
- Dim Are The Pathways
- The Faint Pulse Of Light
- Mind Mutation
- Built On Sand
- Inescapable Dream
- The Curse That Keeps On Giving
- Chain Connector
- What Turns The Wheels
- Misery Mantra
- Heavy Lies The Crown
Christian Älvestam – vocals, synths
Patrik Gardberg – guitars, syths
Jani Stefanovic – guitars, bass, synths
Rolf Pilve – drums