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Solstice - 'Prophecy' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/00/85/12/solstice-prophecy-84-1399750775.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     May 10, 2014    
 
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The whole album has a wonderful warmth that runs through even its more up tempo and heavier moments.

I once shared a train journey with former Solstice fiddler Marc Elton. I wasn't a fan of the band and didn't know him but he recognised an album I had by Welsh Folk artist Siân James ('Distaw' if you're interested), and started the conversation by pointing at it and saying: "I'm on that!"

It is no coincidence, I feel, that listening to 'Prophecy' summoned up these memories. Not that it's "of the past" exactly but neither does it pull you into the future. That's not a criticism; 'Prophecy' as an album that has a certain timeless feel, and its strength lies in encouraging the listener to take a step back from everyday life and pause for thought. It's a relatively tranquil, calming affair – well-crafted, enjoyable and highly competent.

The band is still led by guitarist and songwriter Andy Glass who plays superbly throughout. Solstice fans anticipating the trademark soaring violin (from Jenny Newman) and guitar weaving around delicately passionate female vocals (from Emma Brown) will not be disappointed. That said, I would not want to underplay the contributions of Pete Hemsley (drums), Steven McDaniel (keyboards/vocals) and especially Robin Phillips (bass).

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What of the songs? Well, opener 'Eyes of Fire' has a gentle, meditative groove and some wonderful guitar work six minutes in, (which reminds me of Saxon's 'Frozen Rainbow'). 'Keepers of the Truth' segues from a violin intro into a characteristic Prog riff and features some cool bass lines! 'Warriors' is a lengthy, multi-faceted track (and long - 17:32), from which my favourite sections are those which wrap an Enigma-type ambience around a 1990s Ocean Colour Scene styled riff. I very much like the strong Folk elements of 'West Wind' and the Eastern vibe of album closer 'Black Water'. The whole album has a wonderful warmth that runs through even its more up tempo and heavier moments.

'Prophecy' also benefits from the eye-catching artwork of Barry Kitson of Marvel, DC Comics and 2000AD fame. Oh yeah, and there are three bonus tracks, remixed by Steven Wilson which all come from the 1984 album 'Silent Dance' – an album which does, of course, feature the fiddle and vocals of Marc Elton.

Michael Anthony

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