Review Summary: A flicker of light in a dying genre
European thrashers Essence inspired some hope in the genre with their 2011 debut Lost in Violence
. A good modern thrash band is hard to come by; sure there’s the occasional fluke like Vektor, but all in all it’s a dying genre. Essence strived to prove otherwise though, and with Last Night of Solace
they continue to do so, to a lesser extent. It’s solid thrash metal with a modern twist, nothing more; but the fact that it comes across so fresh and effortless for them makes it a comfortable, albeit harmless, listen.
Considering most of the best thrash metal albums of all time have been around 45 minutes or under, the 53 minute runtime of Last Night of Solace
does it little favors. Five of the ten tracks are at or above 6 minutes, and while some of thrash’s classics were of decent length (‘Fade to Black’, ‘Holy Wars’), nothing on Last Night of Solace
deserves its runtime and nearly every track overstays its welcome by two minutes, and that’s being generous. What Essence fails to realize is the concept of dynamics. For them it’s 100% volume, all the time, and even to the most dedicated metal fan it can get exhausting especially when a band plays with as little variety as Essence. The vocals are reminiscent of a whiny Chuck Schuldiner and are completely and utterly stagnant. They’re not bad
, but his voice can get pretty grating, and using the exact same scream for almost an hour's worth of music is never okay unless you’re Demolition Hammer. The riffs are standard headbanger's thrash with the occasional hint of black metal here and there; the infectious chorus of the quasi-title track ‘Last Night’ is heavily carried by its melodic progression and underlying blast beats. The drumming is exactly what you’d expect, as is the bass (just barely audible), but the focus of thrash has always been the riffs and for the most part, Essence delivers. The problem is the overall lack of risk and variety. Essence sticks to what they’re good at, and if that means making 50+ minutes worth of harmless, fun thrash metal, then so be it.