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A Step in the Right Direction - 87%

Stained Glass Assassin, March 14th, 2019

After Solution .45’s debut, “For Aeon’s Past”, my worries of Christian Älvestam’s new band were both put to rest and left me feeling excited for the future. Unfortunately, the future would not come around for another 5 years, as “Nightmares in the Waking State - Part I” would finally drop in 2015. One of my concerns about Älvestam over the years was, how much effort he would be able to put into Solution .45 as he has his hand in a number of other projects. Length between releases aside, I figured I’d wait to hear the album before making any rash assumptions.

When I first heard “For Aeon’s Past”, I was impressed with the hybrid, melodic death metalcore sound they played. It is a sound that is once again present on “Nightmares in the Waking State - Part I”, but this time, in my opinion, it is much more apparent. It sounds almost as if, “For Aeon’s Past” saw the band flirting with a sound they sought to make their own. “Nightmares in the Waking State - Part I” on the other hand saw the band firmly immerse themselves in that hybrid rather than simply borrow influential elements from the likes of Soilwork and In Flames.

The most noticeable change from “For Aeon’s Past” is arguably the lead guitars. The rhythms and solos on their debut album were plentiful and showed a lot technical ability. Now, although I was a fan of Tom Gardiner’s thick and meaty riffs on “For Aeon’s Past”, they weren’t exactly the most varied or breathtaking. I also felt due to this lack of variation, the rhythms, for the most part, were put into the spotlight far too often, essentially having to anchor the atmosphere of the entire album. However, “Nightmares in the Waking State - Part I” saw the departure of Gardiner and was replaced with Älvestam band mate from The Few Against Many and Torchbearer; Patrik Gardberg. The change is immediately noticeable as, this album is chock full of riffs that have the ability to both, carry their own weight in the creativity department, but also add a distinctive layer to the band’s sound. From thick and groovy, to crisp and plucky and even some heavier sludgy sounding sections, the riffs on this album are far and away more memorable. With a stable of varied riffs at their disposal, the leads are able to better hook the listener and keep them entertain, which leads to some excellent transition with the rhythms and solos. I know I’ve put a lot of praise on the riffs and that is mostly due to their newfound power, but Jani Stefanović’s ability has not faded in the least. The rhythm sections are just as melodic as they were on the previous album, offering an excellent foundation for Älvestam vocals (especially his cleans) to shine, while his solos still have the ability to shred your face off.

As for Älvestam’s, once again, he displays the full range of his vocal spectrum. One moment the man will be growling and singing like a demon and the next sings with the voice of an angel. (I wonder if that’s hoe Miseration came up with their debut title “Your Demons - Their Angels”?) I would say that the vocals are, more or less, on par for the course with “For Aeon’s Past”, which is by no means a slight in any way, it’s just Älvestam’s vocals carry the same awe inspiring presence as they normally do.

Once again, Rolf Pilve creates a wall of sound on the drums. They create a concussive force at times, but also, help add to the rhythm section and serve as a segue for Älvestam during one of his many vocal shifts. They really do a nice job establishing their own identity, but also fit so well with the rest of the team, enhancing the overall sound. The bass, although present throughout the album tends to offer more of an enchantment to the guitars than having its own role. That’s not to say they don’t have their own niche, it’s just they are more of an additional piece to the larger sound. The keyboards as well, add an additional layer that is noticeable, but not overbearing. So many times, I find that a band trying to add synths to their sound to create more of a melodic atmosphere tend to lay them on too thick and they become more of a hindrance rather than another piece of the puzzle. Fortunately, that is not the case on “Nightmares in the Waking State - Part I”.

So, where do I stand “Nightmares in the Waking State - Part I”? Well, I’ll admit I had my worries that this may just be “For Aeon’s Past” part II, but I was pleasantly surprised with additional effort put in to the songwriting (more varied and exciting riffs and extra blast beats), which in my opinion elevated the band’s sound. I wasn’t expecting much of a change from the debut album and to be honest, I didn’t want there to be, but with the additions Solution .45 put forth on their sophomore album, they have taken the first step in expanding their sound without running the risk of losing their identity. As before, my concerns were put to ease after I listened to “Nightmares in the Waking State - Part I” and can only hope their next album continues along a similar path.

Highlights: “Wanderer From the Fold” “Perfecting the Void” “Winning Where Losing Is All”

Into the Abyss of Oblivion