Review Summary: Whilst not as impressive as Solstice's debut, Pray is another extremely solid death/thrash offering.
Solstice's debut self-titled album was successful for several reasons: it possessed strong musicianship with nicely detailed guitarwork and drumming, good production, and best off all, really damn good riffs. Despite the departure of the band's figurehead Rob Barrett after the album as he made his way to the ranks of Malevolent Creation
, the band persisted and produced their second work, the rather more low profile Pray. Whilst Pray may not have the same production sheen and consistency as Solstice's self titled, it still possesses the key features of their first album that made it strong.
Drafted in Rob's emptied spot is Christian Rudes, who serves as an entirely apt replacement, with a vocal style strongly reminiscent of Brett Hoffman from the aforementioned Malevolent Creation, with a good mid range snarl as well as an aptly strong guitar performance. Elsewhere, Alex Marquez and Dennis Munoz keep their positions as drummer and guitarist respectively, and both give a great performance with the former providing the same excellent drumming as he did for Malevolent Creation, Resurrection
and Demolition Hammer
and the latter dishing out technical riffs and solos that do the job extremely well. Bassist Garrett Scott has a much more obvious role than his predecessor, having a consistently loud spot in the mix which helps to give the bass a lot of clarity and as such is something of a highlight. The production is perhaps the only falling point, feeling somewhat muffled despite each of the individual instruments sounding fine, although it's not critical. If it bothers you on first listening, it's worth noting that there are somewhat clearer remixes available on the Pray For The Sentencing compilation, although there most of the tracks sound somewhat "plastic-y" compared to here.
Of course, the main strengths of the album are the songs themselves, which are really not far behind anything from Solstice's debut. With a mix of technical tracks like the album opener The Unseen
and Freedom Denied
and more typical thrashers such as Denial
and the closer Eyes See Red
, the album has some minor variation, and all of the tracks are extremely strong with basically no substandard riffs anywhere; as such, the album is pleasingly consistent. Unlike their debut, though, there aren't really any moments where the album slows down or changes tone; however, thankfully, the album is fairly short so it doesn't really get boring at any point. There's a slight decrease in the strong crossover thrash influences of prior, but the lyrical content is still focused on political issues and is aptly strong. Really, there are few weaknesses to the individual songs, much like before.
Put simply, if you liked the first Solstice album, you'll like this one, as it's barely any different outside of a slightly worse production quality and a lessened hardcore influence. Viciously fast at times and well considered in its approach, Pray is a strong death/thrash effort that really shouldn't be ignored.