SOLSTICE (Halcyon) CD
This 10" has been re-issued for the first time in 1999, but Cyclone Empire did a much better job here, especially due to the included eight bonus track as well as the thick booklet which contains again all lyrics, rare photos and extensive linernotes from Russ Smith, who did release "Halcyon" for the first time in 1996 on his label Black Tears. 'Lamentations' was a convincing debut from a new Doom Metal band, but 'Halcyon' revealed SOLSTICE power metal influences much more than the first recordings and so it was just a natural decision of the band to record an excellent cover of Manowar's 'Gloves of Metal' for the 10". This was a very nice idea, but the highlights here are definitely the self-penned songs. 'To Ride with Tyr' and 'Graven Deep' are still crushing, monolithic slabs of fresh molten Doom Metal, and this time the guitars of Rich Walker and Gian Piras do sound much sharper and heavier than on the debut. Again 'Halcyon' is rooted strongly in melody and emotion, while vocalist Simon Matravers is closer to Rob Lowe than ever before. The instrumental song 'Halcyon' harks back to the band's own perceptions of English mysticism and Renaissance music.
It doesn't sound like kitsch, and reminds the listener to Albion's majestic landscapes and ancient history. All this four tracks plus the atmospheric intro 'The Ravenmaster' are reason enough for every Doom Metal fan to buy a copy of 'Halcyon' and a lot of them did it in 1996. All those readers, which already own an orginal copy of this Ep, should nevertheless add this re-release to their list, and here are the reasons why you should have this, too. Firstly, it's a alternative version of 'Winter Moon Rapture', which has been recorded in 1994 and I have to agree with Russ Smith that this version is not worser than the one on 'Lamentations'. Secondly, Rich Walker did open his treasure chamber, and so we can find here the 'Drunken Dungeon Sessions', recorded over 1997/1998. This demo recordings have been the first one with the new line-up, and especially the new singer Morris Ingram was more than just a good replacement for Simon Matravers. Apart of the new vocalist it's entertaining to hear the rawness of this old demo recordings, and some of this songs will appear two years later in 1998 on SOLSTICE masterpiece 'New Dark Age'. Maybe the biggest surprise here is a brilliant cover-version of the CANDLEMASS' classic 'Solitude', because the vocals have been done by Karl Simon (The Gates Of Slumber). Overall, this is an amazing digitally remastered re-release and it has enough to offer to be of interest for die-hard Doom Metal fans as well as for the ones who start to discover the beauty and power of Doom. With 'Halcyon' SOLSTICE reached an amazing point in their personal development, but 'New Dark Age' will showcase the band's full potential.....