Review Summary: “I’d rather be a lost soul searching paving my own way.”
Armed with an eight-string Ibanez, drum programming software, and plenty of aggression and melody to spare, Karl Schubach of Misery Signals
fame brings us Solace, a project that seemingly began in 2008, when very rough demos were uploaded to YouTube. Over the course of two years while Misery Signals
had its downtime, Karl wrote and recorded Call & Response
, which had been delayed countless times until August of this year (mostly due to perceived record label issues).
While Karl is well known for his earth-shattering vocals, his songwriting is worthy of praise on this record. Call & Response
can safely be classified as djent, but the more melodic side of the genre seems to be the focal point of this album. Karl’s guitar playing is kept relatively simple (save for a few riffs), which is beneficial to Call & Response
's appeal as a whole. Beautiful clean passages such as in the beginning of “Judgement Night” are used to perfection and are complimented by thick grooves and riffs. Breakdowns are common, but they are mercifully not the main focus of the record. Occasional samples and electronic interludes are scattered throughout the album, but they are thankfully kept to a minimum (save for the title track, which uses both very well). The one thing that wasn’t supposed to stand out on this record that really sticks out is the fact that the programmed drums actually sound like drums. It’s a nice touch and shows how much care and attention Call & Response
was given. One minor complaint though is the all-too-common bass guitar, which is virtually nonexistent throughout the record (the only time you ever really hear it is on “Stockholm Syndr(h)ome”).
Karl’s vocals are the same as they’ve always been – clean, crisp, and precise. His delivery is both concise and unique, and every word is understood through his guttural growls. Karl also showcases his softer vocals that were briefly heard on Misery Signals
’ last album, Controller
, as the beginning of “Curse of the Living” contains some crooning that builds up to a harsher delivery. In addition, “Our Father” features Jonathan Vigil of The Ghost Inside
and his performance is just as powerful as Karl’s. Lyrically, the album covers topics such as mortality and religion, with Karl boldly calling out God on “Dead Man’s Curve” (“Search for the one who will punish the sons for the sins of the father. Search for the one who will never show his face.”
). When combined with the instrumentation, it makes the record sound much more potent.
So after two years, is it safe to say that Solace’s debut was well worth the wait? Absolutely. Karl Schubach’s first proper solo outing is a success, beautifully crafted and carefully detailed. Call & Response
is a top contender for album of the year, and Solace has the potential to become less of a side project and more of a legendary act in its own right.
Recommended Tracks: “Our Father”, “Dead Man’s Curve”, “Call & Response”, “Stockholm Syndr(h)ome”