Release: April 12, 2019
Making the music they love, with the people they love, for the people they love, as per their bio, Canadian power metal band Solarus are back with their sophomore effort titled “Darkest Days”. The quartet is formed by vocalist Sarah Dee, guitarist Lucas McArthur, bassist Mark Feeney and drummer Nich Longe and together they have crafted an album that deals with life’s struggles and the complicated nature of humanity. “Darkest Days” was produced and orchestrated once again by Sean Dowell.
Originally intended as a one-off project from guitarist and founder Lucas McArthur, with the release of their first full-length album (“Reunion”, 2017) Solarus actually set the foundation for a rather lucrative collaboration which resulted in a second full length album. Taking their sound a step forward with the recruitment of Nich Longer and Mark Feeney, Solarus are solidifying their grasp on the metal scene. And with “Darkest Days” the band has delivered a dark yet melodic album, filled with energetic riffs, incredible vocals and a very predominant bass sound, thus providing something for every listener.
Overture: in tenebras
My darkest days
Embers in the rain
Requiem for the fallen (pt. II)
The final hour
In memoriam (immortal)
Being an album about facing darkest days and prevailing over adversities I have to say that the lyrics are very well written and go together with the ambiance of the music neatly. And in this respect “Dear Saviour” has probably the strongest and most powerful set of lyrics on this album and it reads like an open letter to God, detailing our problems and the lack of resolve from a Higher Power. The cello and piano line combine perfectly with Sarah Dee’s powerful yet emotional delivery to really sell this song. The title track “My darkest days”, the single “Limbo”, and “Requiem for the fallen, pt. II” follow suit with lyrics depicting our daily struggles, lyrics to which we can all relate. But honesty all 10 songs (minus the intro “Overture: in tenebras”) can be seen as pages from our lives, which enables the listener to connect with the music on a deeply emotional level.
Besides the lyrics, the album’s other strong point lies in the performances. As such Sarah Dee’s vocals vary from emotional and soulful (like on the piano ballad “Holding on”) to robust and dynamic (“Embers in the rain” or “In memoriam”), though at times her voice reminded me of Jennifer Haben of German metal band Beyond the Black. Newcomer Mark Feeney’s bass lines add an extra layer of harmony but also thickness to the songs (especially on “My darkest days”, and “Arrival”) making for a very intense and lively listening experience, while Lucas McArthur’s guitar riffs and solos are both well-executed and tight (“Arrival”, “Requiem for the fallen, pt. II” and “The final hour” are good examples). Drummer Nich Longe also deserves a shout-out for his stylish and energetic playing throughout the album. Sean Dowell’s orchestration is the icing on the cake, as it adds that extra pinch of dramatism that make the songs feel personal and relevant to our own lives (as on the power ballad “The final hour”)
Threading a fine line between power metal and symphonic metal, Solarus seems to be a rather weird hybrid as the songs on display here have some soaring, catchy choruses and put-your-fists-in-the-air songs while also delivering some heartfelt but also heartbreaking moments that bring more nuances and moods to the album, in a similar way to “Heart of the Hurricane” by the aforementioned Beyond the Black. And this is a very good sign in my book.
All in all, “Darkest Days” is a very good and strong album that showcases a talented and passionate band, eager to show the world that they can give some of the big-leagues bands a serious run for their money. Highly recommended to anyone with an affinity for melodic metal, power metal and / or symphonic metal. Totally worth a few spins.
Rating: 9 / 10
Sarah Dee – Vocals
Lucas McArthur – guitars
Mark Feeney – bass
Nich Longe – drums / percussion