Formed in 2012, New Hampshire-based Solium Fatalis quickly entered the scene with a self-titled debut the following year. Best categorized as a blackened death metal outfit, the band—whose name translates to “Deadly Throne”—have been hard at work, cranking out a second full-length release not even two years later. For a project that showed plenty of potential in 2013, The Undying Season does not disappoint. It’s a significant stride forward for Solium Fatalis and one that shows they know how to communicate their take on death metal to the world.
First, for some necessary background, the debut release was conceived and implemented by Jim Gregory and featured Jeff DeMarco (Excrecor, Rhadamanthys) on vocals, Dirk Verbeuren (Soilwork) on drums, and Loic Colin (Scarve) on bass. To top all that off, it was produced by Fredrik Nordström—you know, our buddy who’s assisted the likes of In Flames, Opeth, and Dark Tranquillity. Solium Fatalis may be a new name to many, but the minds behind it shouldn’t be. The stacked lineup made for a brutal display of crunchy riffs and powerful rhythms. It was one hell of a way to emerge onto the scene. But as eye-opening of a debut as it was, it did feel rather straightforward and at times may have left a bit to be desired.
Fast forward two years and we have The Undying Season. The idea is the same, but this time around we have Flo Mounier and Olivier Pinard (both from Cryptopsy) taking care of the rhythm and a permanent spot for Ehren Hill (Excrecor) on guitars. It makes a noticeable difference. We open exactly as you’d expect on “To Deliver Us All,” with a jarring synth line that escalates abruptly to an absolutely demonic bark from DeMarco. I must note that I’ve followed Jeff in many of his projects and I have never heard him spit words this impressively. The early tracks carry weight in much the same way the first album did, but the rhythm is somehow even more impressive and Ehren’s leads blend in that much better. To that point, the highlight track for me is “Monolith of Internecion.” It’s a track that touches on all the elements I appreciate in one sub-four-minute ass-kicker. The pace makes you want (/need) to get up and move; I can only imagine how intensely this song would go over live.
As we work through the album, we’re given a new level of personality and emotion with a more atmospheric approach on the likes of “An Asylum For Penitence” and “Contagion”—the latter of which shows off a familiar black metal feel at the outset. Furthermore, as you move from track to track, you begin to pay more attention to a bit of a melodic focus, primarily in the leads. It’s a part of The Undying Season’s personality that fluidly works its way in on occasion without becoming overdone.
Don’t get me wrong, the heart of this album is still a punch in the throat resulting from a generally relentless cadence. But it’s how seamlessly these additional elements are worked in that really lends to the album’s overall quality. By that, I speak most specifically to the relationship between the crisp, melodic leads layered over the same mesmerizing, almost inhumanly-paced rhythms. It’s just an example of how everything is cohesive and, more importantly, everything works—straight through “Corruptor” and “The Undying Season,” two songs that close the album as powerfully as it opened.
There’s no denying that The Undying Season stays true to the style of extreme metal that Solium Fatalis introduced us to in 2013. The past year-plus has been well spent, and the level of effort exerted on this release can never be questioned. The raw emotion and personality layered within these tracks is immediately recognizable, but only increases in prominence with each listen. Some of these tracks may be growers, but they absolutely earn that right to grow. It shows substantial progress and maturity from Solium’s debut and leaves us confident that good things are to come in the future.
“Ein Bier… bitte.”