Released: March 2017
Following on the path that such bands as Evergrey or Therion have carved into stone, but with a more rockish approach to songs, Solitude Within is an upcoming Belgian female-fronted band that plays beautiful symphonic rock music by combining classical music with hard rock and heavy metal elements. The band was formed in the summer of 2014 by the lovely Emmelie Arents (vocals & keyboards) and bass player Quincy Van Overmeire. Guitarists Johan Van Criekingen and Jean-Paul JP Laffargue quickly joined in, with drummer Ashley ‘Ash’ Ysewyn completing the line-up. The beginning of 2016 saw the release of their first single, “Fade Away”, which was greatly appreciated and gave the band more reasons to work on a debut album. Slowly but surely the band began to write and produce new songs and in September 2016 a teaser for “Paralyzed” was released. Finally, in March 2017 their first studio album, “Disappear” got released and now the band is ready to take to the stage.
01. Fade Away (4:02)
02. Blame (4:31)
03. Morrigan (3:43)
04. Fly (3:54)
05. Burn (4:12)
06. Disappear (3:27)
07. In My Mind (4:31)
08. Eternal Flame (3:50)
09. Turn Away (4:04)
10. Paralyzed (3:38)
11. In The Dark (4:13)
As far as debut albums go, these can be placed mainly in two categories – experimental and precise. In other words there are bands that know what type of sound they aim for and go for that full force (see Sunburst’s “Fragments of Creation” or Walk in Darkness “In the Shadows of Things”) and then there are bands who like to play around, to experiment and release a very diverse album, sonically speaking. However this is rarely an indication for what is to come as I have heard weak debut albums followed by a really good sophomore album or a strong first album followed by a not-so-strong second album. Also, there are bands that put out quality metal on all their releases. Solitude Within’s debut album is more of an experimental album with a variety of sounds and styles though broadly it can be labeled as symphonic rock with an epic female lead vocal. I feel like Solitude Within is the rockish version of Beyond the Black as the same popish groove characterizes both bands’ music. Also Emmelie’s voice reminds me at times of Jennifer Haben and at times of former Nightwish front lady Anette Olzon, as she has a very strong, melodic, and flexible voice.
As a fan of symphonic and power metal, I am used to more complex song structures and more poetic lyrics as opposed to the simplicity and straightforwardness of rock music. However, as I listened to “Disappear” I found myself nodding to the rhythm of the guitar lines or to the drum beats and just rocking out to some of the vocal melodies, which goes to prove that, if done right, symphonic rock can be just as groovy as symphonic metal. And “simplicity” is not a word to define to music created by Solitude Within as the guitar work, backing orchestration and vocal delivery are quite intricate. However, the lyrical content is a bit easy-going, even by rock standards and I feel this is where the band has some more work to do. Another problem I encountered here is the production, as there are songs where the voice is clearly heard and then there are a couple of songs where it seems drowned by the guitars and drums. Not sure if it is intentional or not but this shift is a bit tiring on the ears. For example “Eternal Flame” suffers from such a poor mix as the drums overpower the vocals, which is a shame because otherwise this would have been a very good track. Also at times the instrumental and the vocal melody don’t match, as the instrumental goes in one direction and the vocals in the opposite direction. Rarely a distorted guitar sound suits a soft vocal melody. It’s either all heavy, trashy, and aggressive or all soft, ballady, and mellow, reason why songs like “Fly”, or “Fade Away” sound dissonant, and unbalanced.
Tracks like “Disappear”, “Burn” or “Blame”, on the other hand, are in perfect balance and have a very nice sounding chorus coupled with a great instrumental side, and would make very good rock
anthems. A great addition to their music is the orchestral background that is sounding excellent on songs like “Morrigan”, “In My Mind”, “In the Dark” or “Turn Away” as the violin lines weave
themselves into the heavier sound of the guitars and bass. And speaking of “Morrigan”, the intro reminds me of Kamelot’s “Prodigal Son” and I love the guitar line throughout this more up-beat
track. Also the spoken parts in the second half of the song adds an extra dimension to the story. I have to point out the groovy flute solo on “Turn Away” which later makes way for a few growls
that overlap with Emmelie’s clean vocals giving it an aggressive edge, and I am starting to enjoy this overlap of voices more and more as I discover it on the heavier songs of the albums I listen
I have to say this is an album that requires a few listens to get into, but it is worth the listens. Unfortunately there are a few filler songs here, but there are some good to great songs as well, some of my favorites being “Blame”, “Morrigan” and “Turn Away”. The band has put some effort into this release and it shows as with each listen I discovered some new details I have previously missed. Only advice I can give them is “Keep on improving!” as the potential to create wonderful, catchy music is there, just needs to be polished a bit more.
I give “Disappear” a 6.5 / 10 as I find it a bit rough around the edges, and not as complex nor heavy enough as a rock album should be.
Emmelie Arents (Vocals & Keys)
Jean-Paul ‘JP’ Laffargue (Guitar)
Johan Van Criekingen (Guitar)
Quincy Van Overmeire (Bass)
Ashley ‘Ash’ Ysewyn (Drums)