Solar Soma
So Much For Style


4.5
superb

Review

by SitarHero USER (33 Reviews)
March 11th, 2014 | 18 replies | 705 views


Release Date: 01/01/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A resounding triumph of substance over style.

Australia seems to be an incredibly fertile breeding ground for modern progressive rock acts. While the band currently boasts prog-rock auteur Shaun Holton (aka Projected Twin) as one of its members and presently that seems to be its only claim to fame, if the quality of the material on their debut EP is anything to go by, this won’t be the case for long. The EP’s title seems to be extremely prescient (especially if you read a double meaning into it), because one of the biggest strengths of the band seems to be the diversity of styles and influences it draws upon to inform its sound. However, unlike say, Twelve Foot Ninja, the stylistic eclecticism on the album is far from jarring. Rather it is a welcome quirk which provides the band avenues to develop its core sound and keep the songs from sounding homogenous. The end result is that every song on the EP is a unique entity that sounds very noticeably different from every other song, but retains the band’s essential flavor. As simple as this concept may sound, it is much easier to envision than execute.

For instance, the album opener, Two Headed Dog is a fairly conventional modern prog song that draws heavily from grunge influences with its use of loud-soft dynamics that build to fabulously cathartic choruses, and polyphonic vocal melodies. However, the follow up, Crackd, takes a stylistic left turn into indie rock territory with its simple palm muted riffs and stuttering vocal lines. Some of the indie rock aesthetic is retained on the title track but with jazz and metal influences added to the mix before the band takes another left turn, this time towards Opeth-ville, on Lunchbox Monster. Finally, the band circles back to a more conventional progressive rock sound and ends proceedings on a haunting Pink Floyd by way of Porcupine Tree note with Islands.

However, as mentioned earlier, despite these stylistic shifts, the band never sounds like it lacks a corporeal identity. Vocalist/guitarist Cat Johns has a slightly colourless alto voice, but manages to infuse each song with an ethereally melodic and haunting air that never gets boring or repetitive. Simply put, she sounds like a female Steven Wilson; not extremely impressive from a technical standpoint, but with a fine ear for melody. Actually, that’s a pretty apt description for the entire band. Despite this being a progressive rock record through and through, there is little that is technically impressive. However, guitarist Chris Lau and drummer Luke Whelan ably support Cat Johns while proving themselves to be fine songwriters and composers in their own right and constantly find subtle and seamless ways to make the songs ‘progress’. Despite the eclecticism available, the band never loses sight of the song. Thus despite the varied styles found on the album, So Much For Style proves itself to be a resounding triumph of substance over style.



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user ratings (1)
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
SitarHero
March 11th 2014


4672 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The album can be streamed/downloaded here:

http://solarsoma.bandcamp.com/album/so-much-for-style

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
March 11th 2014


10182 Comments


Good write up dude!

" Finally, the band circles back and ends proceedings on a haunting Pink Floyd by way of Porcupine Tree note with Islands."

Expand upon this? Not quite sure what you mean here.

This sounds very unpredictable and interesting.

SitarHero
March 11th 2014


4672 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I meant that it circles back to the more conventional prog (is that even a thing? I might be making it up) sound that the first song has.

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
March 11th 2014


10182 Comments


Oh ok. Yea def expand upon that but otherwise good review man. This does sound like it would be my thing.

SitarHero
March 11th 2014


4672 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Aight, made the change. :]

dannyboy89
March 11th 2014


11960 Comments


Pos'd hard dude. Might check eventually.

SitarHero
March 11th 2014


4672 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks danny! It's not particularly groundbreaking, but it's addictive as hell.

Emyay
March 11th 2014


5952 Comments


sounds pretty cool. i will check

SitarHero
March 11th 2014


4672 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

You (most probably) won't regret it.

SitarHero
March 12th 2014


4672 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Bumping thizz shizz. Day 2 of having it stuck on repeat.

Mad.
March 12th 2014


3804 Comments


Props for reviewing this mayn. I listened to it once but think I prefer Projected Twin. I remember it being good. It I'm gonna have to relisten now

Awesome review btw, pos'd

SitarHero
March 12th 2014


4672 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks dude! I think I much prefer the vocals on this to Projected Twin. And it feels like it rocks harder too.

Mad.
March 12th 2014


3804 Comments


It's definitely heavier than PT and the vox are awesome, but Shaun Holton's got a good voice too

SitarHero
March 13th 2014


4672 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Holton's got a great voice, but he sounds too pop-ish for me. I like the 'mystery' that Cat Johns puts into the vocals. I've probably overused the word, but it's haunting and I really dig that. That doesn't mean I haven't been rocking out to PT too though.

Mad.
March 14th 2014


3804 Comments


Rating's gone down?

SitarHero
March 14th 2014


4672 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Ha! Naah, I don't do personal 0.5 ratings. The album deserved a 4.5, but 4.0 in my book means a "should listen" album.

Mad.
March 14th 2014


3804 Comments


Oh right, how come?

SitarHero
March 15th 2014


4672 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

My personal ratings philosophy is pretty simple:

5 = Classic/must listen
4 = Good/should listen
3 = Average/don't lose anything by listening or not listening
2 = Bad/avoid listening
1 = Terrible/listen only for the lulz

I've been thinking about carrying that over to my reviews too, but I haven't quite gotten around to it.



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