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Winter Wonderland - 98%

Crescentbooking, February 6th, 2007

Immediately when I listed to the first track, "Following Caligula", I felt absolutely awed and amazed. Compared to the EP released in 2004, The Fall of Rome showed an incredible amount of improvement from being overall better musicians, to having better song-writing skills.

Winter Solstice is excellent in that each member has something that no other musician in the Hardcore/Metalcore genre.. Matt Tarpey has the most interesting style of vocals. He projects them in such a way that causes the hair on the back of your neck to stand. His Lyrics match immaculately with the guitars and drums.

JT Turner and Caleb Goins have learned to coordinate so well that when you hear them play together, its like two universes coinciding. They have very complicated breakdowns that usually aren't steady. They have sudden bursts of amazing finger-tapping in-between bars and spaces of the breakdown. You can even pick a hint of sweeping arpeggios as you listen to the album. I do wish that the breakdown in Malice and Wonderland-Fall Of Rome, was as paced as it is in the EP, Pulse is Overrated.

It seems as though the drummer and bassist have learned to coordinate so well that every hit of the bass drum, fits perfectly with every pluck of the bass string. Over all they are one of the best I have heard.

They have an interesting sense of repetition. They use repetition a lot, however, they use it in such a way that it ends up being perfect. If you compare them to other bands such as Through The Eyes of The Dead, who seems not to be as familiar with the correct use of repetition.

The last have of the CD shows a much different style than the first half. The first have has much more of the Metalcore influence, yet, the last have shows a large amount in the Hardcore influence. I have never heard anything like it. At least, I have never heard anything like it that turns out to sound good or please a listener.

I think that Winter solstice is amazing. This CD is a must buy through iTunes because the disc is sold out in press. If one likes listening to Hardcore and Metalcore in its purist state, than Winter Solstice is certainly the best option.

the beginning of the end? - 68%

krozza, April 12th, 2005

Hmmmm…there’s a strange smell about this one. You’d think that with acts like Unearth, The Black Daliah Murder and Cataract on their roster (plus a clutch of similar sounding bands they distribute for the Black Market Activities label) Metal Blade would be a little more discerning. Obviously they believe in this band, but for me the signing of Virginia’s Metalcore merchants Winter Solstice maybe a case of ‘one too many’.

There’s a massive swell rising against the current state of Metalcore – too many similar sounding bands peddling a well worn style they say. Some bands get away with it more than most, mainly due to their ability to write better riffs and better songs. Unearth is a prime example – their Gothenburg/At The Gates fascination is completely unoriginal, but I’ll be damned if they don’t smoke all the same. Winter Solstice want to achieve a similar vibe – unfortunately they only do it half as well. As a result, ‘The Fall of Rome’ quickly becomes just another solid, well intentioned, but ultimately unremarkable Metalcore album.

Initially, Winter Solstice (is this a moniker more akin to a Doom metal band?) actually displayed a tremendous amount of promise on ‘TFOR’. The artwork/layout and its title actually serve as a historical metaphor for the current state of world affairs, particularly the United States of America. Just like all civilizations that have destroyed themselves throughout history, Winter Solstice suggest that the human race is on the same path and just maybe we should take a ‘history lesson’ or two. In this sense, Winter Solstice can be viewed as some sort of socially conscience metal act. Their sentiments are something I completely agree with. Yet, as I stated earlier, this is about as inspiring as WS get.

Clearly Winter Solstice had a big chance to set themselves apart from the pack. And while these guys are nowhere near the worst offenders, their style is just a tad too predictable. Sure, ‘TFOR’ is packed with all that is great about this style of music – the fast Swede-like riffage, the double kicks, dual harmonies and the obligatory chugging breakdowns – it’s all here. BUT, you know you’ve heard it a thousand times before and at a much better clip and conviction that what has been accomplished here. Furthermore, with a production that doesn’t quite nail the impact as it should and a rather forced and slightly grainy vocal performance from Matt Tarpey, ‘TFOR’ falls short of the mark.

Winter Solstice is a young band and knowing this, I am perhaps a little hasty in plotting their demise after one album. However, I would hope that they take note of where their music comes from and where the sound is currently heading as a style. At the moment these guys show a heap of potential and if you’re a fan of Caliban and Unearth, you’ll no doubt be interested in this band. Having said that, in the face of extremely stiff competition ‘TFOR’ is too generic to compete. It is stuck there, right in the middle of the pack, fighting for attention, but almost suffocating under the weight of its own lack of originality. The punters have been saying for a while, but right now for Metalcore, perhaps this is the beginning of the end…..


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