Speed metal is a pretty cut-and-dry genre. Fast riffs, fast picking, fast energy, right? So when something comes along and removes itself from the norm by adding its own flavors, it’s quite incredible. Enter Solicitor, a Seattle based speed metal project that formed in 2018, with nothing behind them besides a demo and an EP. That is until now; Spectral Devastation is the band’s debut full-length, and man do they ever know how to incorporate intricate riffing patterns! Even more so during the bridges and when backing solos.
For starters, this is everything that a thrash metal seeker could want without it being a thrash record. The production is grainier, and the attitude mixed with that reflects Kill ‘Em All almost perfectly. But despite this harsh overcast, there’s more than enough melody to go around, and that’s what truly acts as the icing on the cake. Small things that add extra life are what it’s all about as well, and I can also say that the constant ascending solos throw unstoppable gasoline to the proverbial flame.
To avoid stagnation, longer and more intricate song sequences are used. One of my favorites here is “The Red Queen.” There’s a crawling, slow build for an intro, and the speed is dialed back for the sake of opening room for precision. But the drums still shower the background for heavier effect while descending rhythms unwind. Close that off with an acoustic ditty, and you’ve got a song! I dig how well the falsettos are executed as well. Instead of her voice being overly high and standing above everything else, it sits right alongside the riffing with an echoed presence.
Don’t think that Spectral Devastation lacks quicker and more digestible bangers, because not every song can be an anthem. Opener “Blood Revelations” burns the atmosphere with speed riffing and coarse vocals right away, showing no mercy. It’s also got chant-like guitar chugs (if you will), going on until the powerful vocals let off and erupt into a trailing solo. You’ll find a ghostly mist in “Night Vision,” due to its minor tones and crunch behind the chorus. It honestly reminds me of a heavier Blue Oyster Cult song, and the percussion backing this is very neat.
The grittiest song is easily “Specters Of War.” Aggressive howls and wailing leads like the ones here aren’t reached anywhere else, no matter how close they all come. Threatening anything that approaches it, there’s a siren-sound and drum pummel that leads into its fret-happy solo. I love how the trudging riffing maintains itself while the leads noodle on, before it breaks into chaos. There is that obligatory traditional metal song here, which would be “Leather Streets.” The bare basic construction and typical title tell you all you need to know. It’s probably the worst song, but it’s still a good one.
The worst song still being solid should tell you what you need to do next. Solicitor have all but perfected what makes a solid speed metal record and did more with the genre than even some of the greats have done. Anyone into that genre, thrash metal, old USPM (i.e. Chastain), or anything close to these styles should give this their attention as soon as possible.
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