Originally released in 2020, power metal quintet Solar Flare have revisited their debut album and given it a brand-new remix/remaster polish, bringing their classically derived sound to a different level that opens up the European and American musical sensibilities that drive them. Their sound is very much rooted in the new wave of British heavy metal that fostered classic acts in the 80s along with the technical aspects of speed and thrash metal. The album itself is akin to a time capsule, where their influences would be worn on their sleeves if battle vests allowed for that. They absolutely dominate the sound that creates their sonic template through the melodies, keeping them very tight and airborne in range while adding modern accents through the instrumentation, from double bass percussion to the monolithic scream that comes in the track “Pharoah.”
Lyrically, Solar Flare shows the band delving into some weighted topics, ranging from corruption, war, to the Paris shooting in 2015. There’s a wide variety in the subject matter, but even with the influences that fill in their NWOBHM-inspired sound, there isn’t a lot of originality to be found on the record. The instrumentation is incredible, the melodies are immensely catchy, but it still manages to sound like something we have heard many times over due to how adept the band is at replicating their main influence. One of the biggest criticisms comes from Ethan Jackson’s vocals, which, while impressive at capturing the stylings of those classic bands, comes in at a lower energy level than the rest of the band to where it almost appears tired in many places, dampening the experience. In the track “Taken to the Other Side,” there is such a strange, metallic production to them that finds me even more removed than before. Jackson has an impressive range, but for this listener his vocals seem to fall a little flat, being behind the music when they should be at the same pace if not beyond.
SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: SOLAR FLARE – SOLAR FLARE