It's awesome that more and more Doom Metal classics have been re-released over the past eight years. Among this labels is Cyclone Empire, who re-released all four Count Raven albums in 2005. Now two years later they did the same with the nearly the complete discography of English Doom Metal masters SOLSTICE. This now legendary band was formed in the very early 90's by Rich Walker, who is also well-known in the Metal scene as well as in the Hardcore Punk community due to his band Sore Throat. It was in 1994, when 'Lamentations' saw the light of day and meanwhile it belongs to one of the best Doom Metal albums, which have been released in the 90's. In the vein of early Solitude Aeturnus, which seems to be the most obvious influence here, SOLSTICE celebrate their musical vision of powerful epic doom. With brute elegance, the group carved out an own identity, and so it's no surprise that some of the here included ten tracks became anthems for all eternity.
Despite the crushing heaviness, the overall sound is always very intense and emotional, while the arrangements can be full of surprises and unexpected breaks, tough the band focused their attention on memorable songs. 'Empty Lies The Oaken Throne' showcases the band's potential in writing softer material, what makes this album more complete. SOLSTICE never belong to those bands, whose concept of Doom was to play in the slowest pace. Although a track like 'Ragnarok' shows that the group can play slow as fuck in combination with relentless heaviness, it's mostly the variety of the album which makes it so interesting. Vocalist Simon Matravers, who had been the original vocalist in Doom band Mourn, is doing a great job here on 'Lamentations' and his voice is also responsible for this ancient spiritual atmosphere within the music, which should become a trademark of the band's sound in the future. Rich Walker and Gian Piras unleash a wall-of-guitars, which is mighty and rough like the stormy ocean, while the listener can feel like a long ship between all this waves of riffs and drum beats.
This reminds me to the tasteful original artwork of 'Lamentations', which shows a Viking long ship. I don't know, why they didn't use the old one, but that isn't the only difference in comparison to the first release. It was an a great idea to include all three tracks from the 'Ragnarok' demo, because it's highly interesting to hear a few of the songs in different versions, tough the raw quality will only be interesting for fans. The booklets include informative liner-notes of Russ Smith (Black Tears Records and distribution) as well as rare photos and all lyrics and so this digitally remastered re-relaese should also appeal to the ones who still own this album. Overall, it was a damn good idea to re-release this Doom Metal masterpiece, not only because it was unavailable since years, but also because it's an important chapter in Doom Metal history, equal with the first two Lp's of Solitude Aeturnus or Revelation's '...Yet So Far'.