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A very solid debut at the time of its release, Solace's Further seems a somewhat tentative and incomplete prelude to the much-improved excellence and more refined vision displayed by its follow-up, 2003's cryptically named 13. It's also a decidedly doomier affair when compared to its more hard-rocking successor, with long-winded doom epics like "Black Unholy Ground" and "Heavy Birth/2 Fisted" weighing in anywhere between seven and ten minutes in length. Shorter bursts, like the spinning vortex "Whistle Pig" and the acoustic surprise "Hungry Mother," also crop up here and there, but Solace knows its in its element when stretching out, and is not at all shy about ignoring the studio clock and cutting loose. As the band's chief sonic architect, veteran guitarist Tommy Southard (ex-Godspeed and long of the prolific New Jersey stoner scene) takes charge of the proceedings throughout, lending his impressive six-string chops to the energetic aggression of "Man Dog," the dirgy head-swirl of "Followed," and the gradually building intensity of "Angels Dreaming." Vocalist Jason, for his part, has a somewhat tougher time finding his voice, as his style is very often reminiscent of Monster Magnet frontman Dave Wyndorf, but that's a minor gripe considering he gets the job done. In short, Further delivered a satisfying doom metal experience and left a tantalizing promise for Solace's future efforts.

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