There aren't so many well-known Israelian progressive rock bands. Behind The Sun, Amaseffer, Ephrat and Orphaned Land are the most familiar bands to me, not to forget Aviv Geffen who has a major role in Blackfield. So now there is Solstice Coil with their second album Natural Causes. I missed their debut A Prescription For Paper Cuts (2005), so this CD is my first acquaintance with the band. Regarding the music on Natural Causes, it's definitely worthwhile to listen to their first album as well. Solstice Coil consist of vocalist and guitar player Shir Deutch, guitarist Opher Vishnia, keyboardist Shai Yallin, bass player Yaniv Shalev and drummer Yattziv Caspi. These are unknown names to most prog rock lovers, but with a lot of talent and a great sense of humour, you might check their search for a Dream Theater drummer on YouTube (see link below) which is quite hilarious in my opinion. Dream Theater members liked it too and they even got together after a concert of the band in Israel.
The music of Solstice Coil is a blend of progressive metal in the vein of Dream Theater, Spock's Beard, Pain Of Salvation and the more crossover bands like Porcupine Tree and - as far as the vocals are concerned - Radiohead. Not only the influences of these bands can be heard, but also influences of alternative rock, jazz en ethnic music. The song I Know in particular really touched me containing emotional vocals over a warm carpet of keyboards and some exceptional guitar playing. In Human Again you hear the sound of a staccato playing guitar flowing naturally into a fine keyboard sound. It's just wonderfully done. Outcome Inevitable starts as if Metallica plays jazz. Brilliant how this instrumental part is connected to the album's opening piece Question Irrelevant, which is powerful and gentle at the same time. This song immediately draws your attention. Alongside the strong vocals and the craftsmanship of the musicians, the compositions are another strong point for Solstice Coil. The voice of singer Shir Deutch has a wide range and he sings the relaxed parts just as easy as the heavier ones.
Another piece to give some extra attention is Singalong Deathtrap with electric piano, smooth vocals and a stunning duel between guitar and keyboards. Can you incorporate a guitar riff from an alternative rock band in a massive progressive rock song? The answer is yes. Listen to Human Again, Moral Oxidation and Designed Instincts. The strong vocals surely take these songs to a higher level. Too Many Regrets shows great influences of Dream Theater on the instrumental level, but again the vocals make the difference! I love this one. Recipe For Eternity has a Muse kind of feel at certain points, mostly in the vocals I think. Due to the help of a few violins and a cello, this song gets a different atmosphere: a great Hammond organ solo and a Floydian guitar are the icing on the cake here.
Solstice Coil recorded a super album by blending prog rock, prog metal with hints of alternative and radio-friendly rock. Shir Deutch has a wonderful voice that suits the music perfectly and the band wrote some great compositions. I hope we don't have to wait another six years for the next release. Let's find the debut album first!
**** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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