When Substratum broke up, I mourned. Though they were only around for a few short years, they put out three full length albums, a couple of demos, and a couple of splits – not to mention that they put on a hell of a live show. Things seemed to be on the rise for the band when out of nowhere they broke up with the sudden departure of guitarist and riffwriter Max. Fortunately for fans, Substratum’s loss doesn’t mean the loss of all of the musicians involved, and both guitarist Matt Vogan and vocalist Amy Lee Carlson have carried on and started a new band – Sölicitör.
Sölicitör riffs as hard or harder than Substratum ever did, delivering an absolutely blistering dose of classic speed metal with the joy and ferocity you’d want of any biker metal squadron. Though the band can indeed slow down when they want to, they almost never do, and carry consistently through the short play length of EP 2019 at a marauding romp that sometimes speeds up into near thrash territories. The riffs themselves are mostly a bit lighter than the actual mood given off suggests- pretty melodies and lead guitar abound, but the aggressive drumming and vocals turn the package more towards sleaze and grit than towards anything flowery. The songwriting is a bit hard to make direct comparisons to, outside of a general reference to old school USPM, but there’s some bits that remind me a lot of early Helstar, some that remind me of Chastain, and one bit in “Execution Squad” that sounds quite a bit like death metal. There’s a lot more tremolo picking than you’d expect from your average speed metal band, too, and it’s a treat to hear as the band jumps through inventive rhythms and big choruses. It takes a lot of balls to make “WHERE IS YOUR GOD? SEND IN THE DOGS!” a chorus, but the brilliant vocal assault that Amy unleashes here makes it work.
Speaking of the vocals, this is easily the best performance yet that we’ve heard from Amy. As good as she sounded in Substratum, something has changed, and she’s gone from being very skilled to being outright fucking fantastic. This band was recommended to me as being for fans of sleazy Chastain, and her singing really does remind me of nothing so much as Leather Leone’s, though it’s still recognizably Amy. With this in place, the package is complete, making for a fucking killer first EP, and a great sign for the future. Hopefully Sölicitör can manage to make it a bit longer than Substratum did, because they have a bright future ahead of them, and I hope to hear an album sooner rather than later.
Long live heavy metal!
Gates of Hell Records