Sölicitör made waves in the underground in 2019 by releasing a vicious 2 song demo initially described as “Chastain but faster”, which is a winning combo if I’ve ever heard one. Sölicitör followed up this demo with a 4 song EP in the same year including the demo songs and 2 new ones, measurably developing their sound and polishing their performance within the span of a year.
Sölicitör have done well to follow up on this wealth of potential with their debut album Spectral Devastation. It’s really cool to see them branch out and develop their own sound on this album. The Chastain comparison can still be made, but this is very much an album made by a band with their own sound and worshiping no one. It’s nice to see them build on some ideas first found on the EP. For example, there are more mid-tempo sections to accentuate the ripping speed metal bread and butter and it allows individual members of the band to really stand out. “The Red Queen” is a good example of this, beginning with a Brocas Helm reminiscent passage and building into a speed metal-tinged heavy metal epic. The most interesting aspect that’s interesting to see fleshed out is how Sölicitör flirts with extreme metal. A blast beat here or a black metal-esque tremolo riff there (see “Grip of the Fist”) gives them a unique sound and I’m glad the idea was not a one-off experiment on the EP songs (particularly “Execution Squad”).
All this talk of development does not mean they’ve foregone any of the elements that people loved about their first few songs. “Betrayer” could easily have been on the last EP and no one would have batted an eye and “Leather Streets”, while a bit different stylistically that previous tracks, matches their aesthetic to a T. That is to say, there is no shortage of leather-jacket-clad, aviator-wearing speed metal on this album, and Amy has never sounded more commanding. If there were a downside to this album it’s that a few exemplary tracks outshine the rest, which are not quite as consistent. Saying that “not every track is literally a hallmark of the state of the genre today” is not exactly a scathing criticism either.
I said last year that if Sölicitör had put out a full length on the same level as their EP, that it would have been my personal album of the year, and they’ve done just that. As of writing this, it is the best heavy metal I have heard come out of this year. Its early yet, but it would need to be an extraordinary back half of the year for this not to come up in end-of-year conversations.
Album rating: 90/100
Favorite track: Betrayer