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A.D. Review

by Eduardo Rivadavia

Even before dropping needle to the groove, one can almost hear the collective sigh of relief that accompanied the 2010 release of Solace's long, make that looong, awaited third album, A.D. Let's review: formed in 1997 from the ashes of New Jersey stoners Godspeed, Solace issued their first album, Further, in 2001; their second, 13, in 2003 (both through Meteor City); inked a new deal with Small Stone in 2007 (under the assumption that album number three was imminent), and then proceed to spend the next few years haunting the label's "Coming Soon" press releases; almost making it into stores in 2009 before finally emerging the following year -- hallelujah! And although the reasons for this ordeal ranged from business issues and simple misunderstandings to bandmembers coming and going (bassist Bob Hulz was out, then back in; drummer Kenny Lund was replaced by the Atomic Bitchwax's Keith Ackerman, etc.), it was probably Solace's own penchant for self-sabotage and endless second-guessing in the studio that almost turned A.D. into the Chinese Democracy of stoner rock. Almost because bandleader Tommy Southard and his charges actually wrested victory from the jaws of defeat with a set of new songs that are generally as good as they are overwrought…and all of it without having to crash a Harley Davidson into a grand piano like Axl Rose! All kidding aside, "intense" is another word that comes immediately to mind in view of raging album openers "The Disillusioned Prophet" and "The Immortal, The Dead, and The Nothing," which, along with subsequent speedsters "Down South Dog" and weirdly named "The Skull of the Head of a Man" (a full-on hardcore detour!), reflect the urgency of a band making up for lost time. But the slower tempos typical of Solace's albums past still crop up here as well, via the doom-laden grooves guiding tracks like "Borrowed Immunity," "The Eyes of the Vulture," "From Below," and "Six-Year Trainwreck," the latter of which eventually achieves yet another trashing finale. In light of all this furious metallic mayhem, the bluesy "Za Gamman" really helps lighten the mood some, but if there's a single common thread to A.D. it's that it's a guitar album through and through -- even by the standards of this genre. All the remaining musicians can do is hang on for dear life in the thick of Southard's and Justin Daniels' six-string maelstrom, including singer Jason, who occasionally sounds a little buried in the overall mix, but it's hard to imagine too many Solace fans crying foul over this. Heck, after waiting seven years for A.D., they should be crying tears of joy, exclusively, especially since Solace delivered the goods when all was said and done.

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