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Album Review: Solarus – “A Dance With Tragedy”

Solarus was founded in 2016 by Guitarist Lucas McArthur and began as a single instrument project. Supported by session Drummer Jacob Burton and producer Sean Dowell (fellow Canadian-artist Borealis), McArthur set out to create a full-length album that, in turn, resembled more of a passionate bucket list venture than a true studio progression.

As time moved on, it became more evident that McArthur’s style naturally leaned towards featuring a vocalist. With Dowell’s assistance, McArthur took up the hunt for a Vocalist, initially as a guest feature, and coming across one Sarah “Dee” Saccomanno. As one of six auditioning Vocalists, Dee submitted a thirty-second track that garnered great praise from McArthur, turning what was initially a guest slot into a lead vocalist position – Dee, accepted.

Their first album, “Reunion” was released in early 2017 featuring orchestral arrangements by Dowell, and featuring Borealis’ lead singer, Matt Marinelli, as a guest vocalist on the title track “Reunion”. The band was met with critical praise that came from small corners of the worldwide web for a band that, seemingly, appeared out of nowhere.

It was decided shortly after that Solarus was not simply bound to be a one off, and thus Dee and McArthur sought out the other members that would complete their Symphonic Metal Quartet. In their journey to produce a second album, they recruited Drummer Nich Longe, and Bassist Mark Feeney which pushed Solarus into furthering years of creation.

In Spring of 2019, their second album, “Darkest Days” (written collectively by Dee and McArthur) was released. Their single, “Limbo” lead Darkest Days into the spotlight of the Metal Community, garnering more attention and the beckon of head-lining live performances. It was then that Nich’s brother, Troy, was recruited as a second Guitarist.

After a successful start to 2019, the wind down came with Nich and Mark announcing that they would be moving out of town to be closer to family and pursue other opportunities. It was then, when the pandemic hit, that McArthur, Longe (Troy), and Dee, dedicated themselves into the completion of writing their third full-length album “A Dance with Tragedy”.

During such diligence, Solarus recruited the missing members of their lineup with the newly joined Drummer Chris Demelo, and Bassist Daniel Gebzcynski which still exists today.

The first track from the album, titled “Waking Mind” is an absolute showstopper. Epic guitars begin a parade of powerful orchestration accompanied by heavy beats that drop into a mesmerizing display of vocal strength. Dee’s vocals show immense growth from her early days on ‘Reunion’. Her range is stunning with tremendous highs, and beautifully held notes, to deep and ferocious lows that pull you in to leave every word linger on your mind. Elegant pianos pull us in for a break, that comforts us, just as the shadow comforts in the lyrics. Naturally, McArthur comes in with a bombshell of a solo that follows an elegant piano guide, a feature of Solarus that is common but, welcome at every moment. Initial tracks are often seen as only a glimpse into the album’s birth but, this track completely enveloped me and had me singing along in a heartbeat, earning it a spot as one of my favourites right off the top.

“Shades of Truth” debuted as an official lyric video on YouTube on October 22nd, 2021 and was our first introduction to Solarus’ third album. Epic guitars pulsate through your ears while carefully patterned bass chords keep you bobbing along throughout. This was the true display of Dee’s growth from her beginnings with Solarus, showing how much her dedication to her craft is evident in every lyric she belts out. This track is neither light, nor heavy, with perfect pacing, and solid solos that provide a great first listen into the band for new fans.

 

The third track from the album, “The Keeper” starts out hard, with McArthur’s mind-shattering guitar skills flicking at your ear drums. Rhythmic drumming leads to closed eyes before growing in ferocity, thundering through the ground and erupting into a brilliant chorus. Instrumental range, and vocal capabilities are pushed to their respective limits with each band member giving all risk for a beautiful reward – an alluring third track that keeps the album from stagnating. The further you journey down the path that is “A Dance with Tragedy” the more epic it becomes.

As we follow along, “The Wandering” lures us into what we anticipate being some Bladerunner-like ambience but, we are deceived. We’re taken down an alleyway, chasing some shadowy figure as they move like the wind. Expertly written lyrics paint striking images like that of movie stills as we listen along. Speedy riffs and banging drums guide us through so we don’t drift too far off our path. It’s delicate yet punchy, with a vibe that’s reminiscent of bands like Dream Theater, and Rhapsody of Fire complimenting both the mighty music, and the creative storytelling.

The title track, “A Dance with Tragedy” features guest vocals by The Agonist’s Vicky Psarakis. This track takes command, hammering at us with savage growls and angelic cries from the very beginning. The contrast between Dee and Psarakis are confident and unwavering with neither backing down and yet, working in perfect harmony. Untamed orchestration backs this magnificent track that only furthers the domination that is Dee and Psarakis on this track. It’s dynamic, heavy, and everything you could want and more.

 

“Guiding Light” premiered on YouTube on November 5th, 2021 as an Official Music Video and allowed us to see just how passionate this band truly is about the music they create. The blinding light featured in this video only furthers the truth behind this track’s title with cinema level shots amplified by the tremendous intensity of the music. McArthur creates another indomitable solo, met with Longe’s talent that breaks down any hesitance you may have had listening to this album.

Winding us down is the track “Promise Me” that provides an acoustic melody reminiscent of Nightwish’s “Turn Loose the Mermaids” and “The Islander”. It perfectly compliments the heaviness of the album and adds a note of gentleness caressed by Dee’s angelic vocals that gives us the story of a widowed Queen burying her fallen King. It’s sorrowful, passionate, and fathomless.

As you take in this album, you come to the track “Everbound” that immediately drops you into war with speedy drums and spine-shattering riffs. Introductory solos carve at your mind, pulling you from one direction to the next with perfectly orchestrated intensity. I cannot explain this song beyond ‘epic’ as it leaves you breathless in every manner. Battle surrounds you. Bloodshed is at your feet, and your fallen comrades speckle a crimsoned earth. You rise from the ash, battered and bruised but, unforgiving. You will avenge your friends, your family, and all you hold dear. This song has one HELL of a solo, dead center, that forces your fist into the air with a victory cry. Starlight twinkles, furthering your resolve as you begin your own battle, forcing back tears as you take up your sword and rush forward. You will not break. You will not yield. You are EVERBOUND.

We exit the album, as we would exit battle, with tears in our eyes, weary and exhausted. That feeling is held on “This Journey That Yet Remains” but, it doesn’t linger long. We feel the power, the strength that still burns within us, and we turn back to fight once more. It’s a perfect ending track that leaves us only ponder on what’s to come.

“A Dance with Tragedy” is due to be released on December 17th, 2021 and is nothing short of sensational with carefully crafted tracks that tie lyric and sound together seamlessly. If there’s any band you choose to learn of this year, let it be Solarus.

Solarus is a musical endeavor that looks to create and cherish memories through their shared love of music. It has been stated time and time again that the band creates music they love, with the people they cherish, for the people they adore. And to date, there isn’t a better descriptor for the wholesome approach that this band takes in their musical ventures.

Release Date: December 17th, 2021
Rating: 9.5/10
Track List:
1. Waking Mind
2. Shades of Truth
3. The Keeper
4. The Wandering
5. A Dance with Tragedy (feat. Vicky Psarakis)
6. Guiding Light
7. Promise Me
8. Everbound
9. This Journey That Yet Remains

 

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