03. 4 8 15 16 23 42
04. Our Father
05. Dead Man’s Curve
06. Judgement Night
07. Call & Response
08. Stockholm Syndr(h)ome
10. Curse of the Living
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For those not in the know, Solace is the solo project of Misery Signals’ Karl Schubach. For the past four years, armed only with an 8-string guitar and a drum machine, Schubach has been lovingly sewing together patches of riffage unfit for Misery Signals into a cozy and easily accessible djent quilt: the ten tracks that comprise his debut, Call & Response. What then, has Schubach done to transcend your typical metalcore-with-an-8-string studio project?
Well, nothing. For all intents and purposes, Solace is just Mjisery Signals. Call & Response isn’t an innovative album, but neither is it derivative. Schubach expertly toes the line between what we all love to hear and what we’ve heard too much. The songs are heavy, familiar, but always fresh and distinct from each other. It doesn’t hurt that his voice could be mistaken for the guttural growls of an angry planet.
“Trinity” opens the album with a straight-up, stripped-down, minute and thirty seconds of unadulterated riff, but “Naïve” really kicks off in a way that’s more indicative of a true Solace song. With initial guitar and vocal lines reminiscent of Shai Hulud’s “Scornful of the Motives and Virtue of Others,” “Naïve” is instantly a fuller, more dynamic track than its predecessor, and is actually instructive in illustrating the differences between Schubach’s work and your typical bottom-shelf metalcore fare. You can practically taste the years of effort in these guitar licks.
“Our Father” is one of the heaviest tracks by far, pulsing with a bone-crunching Ibanez assault, but the blow is softened with discordant waves of tremolo. While most of the attention is going to be on Schubach’s low-end, his work with more atmospheric counterpoints from the lower half of the fret board is just as consistently good. My favorite use of it might be on “Stockholm Syndr(h)ome.” Schubach gets downright Peripheresque on the track, balancing placid delay sections with heavy, heavy groove sections that wouldn’t feel out of place on “MAKE TOTAL DESTROY.”
As icing on the proverbial cake, Call & Response closes with the sublime “Curse of the Living,” during which Schubach flexes his vocal muscles and shows off his cleans. And they’re good. Too good, in fact. Suddenly, every other track on the album feels as though it’s missing a dimension. But at this point, we’re talking about making a great album better by decimals. Bottom line is that Call & Response is the kind of debut album most bands could only dream of, and Solace is but a side-project.