Given the current state of, well, everything, I have serious doubts that there is anyone amongst us--Villagers and passers-by alike--who isn't in need of a pick-me-up. In times like these, much to the annoyance of my compatriots, I typically turn to the unfiltered bombast and jubilance of power metal to raise spirits. Although high-flying hooky choruses, meathook melodies, stomping riffage, and lusty battle-born comraderie may not appeal to everyone, very little rivals the charybdian draw of power metal's trademark infectious chest-pounding braggadocio. As such, regardless of your contradictory opinions, and despite the (generally) bloody subject matter, an untouchable positivity seems to reigns eternal in this particular arena--for better or for worse, the genre offers a highly energetic and uplifting experience. And, for that alone, power metal has earned a perpetual (if often uninhabited) timeshare in our township.
To that end: let me introduce Solar Flare, a five-man crew attempting to put Ohio on the power metal map. In combining the flamboyance and flair of the European scene with a Jag Panzer-esque American momentum and drive, Solar Flare deliver a self-titled debut stuffed with the hallmarks of the 80's power metal and NWOBHM scenes. We're pleased and honored to offer an exclusive stream of their full album below...so, without further ado, give it a listen!
...I can speak only for myself, of course, but after that cleansing, I feel a whole lot better. Solar Flare just sounds fun, from the headbang-worthy Euro-style riffage to the crisp leads, the latter of which seem near-omnipresent throughout the breadth. There's nothing overtly or obnoxiously technical in the soaring soloing or the axemanship in general, which lends the entire affair a sense of groundedness. I hesitate to saw "workmanlike," because that carries an (unfortunate and unfair) connotation that it operates at an amateur level, but Solar Flare indeed feels workmanlike in its dedication to delivering balls-to-the-wall tunes with a distinctly rockin' attitude. This is the product of a band that is undoubtedly an absolute hoot to catch live. Indeed, the only thing that would make this more fun is the inclusion of more keyboard throughout--Peter Danielsen provides guest synths on intro track "Medieval," which remains one of my favorite songs on the album due to sheer bombast.
The Solar Flare aesthetic, however, wouldn't be what it is without the vocals, oh-so-essential to the power metal and/or NWOBHM trade. In this department, Ethan Jackson delivers, hitting that fine balance of melodicism and tough grit. Comparisons to Queensrÿche's Geoff Tate feel quite apt, but I would also throw the severely underrated Alex Nyborg Madsen of (the equally underrated) NWOBHM underdogs Witch Cross into that pile of soundalikes. All told, his versatile performance only adds to the sense of patent positivity we Villagers find ourselves craving.
Ohio isn't the first place this particular scribe imagines when power metal is brought into the conversation. As an advocate for midwestern bands starting trends, I can only hope that Solar Flare light some fires and start a bit of a sonic revolution in the Ohio metal scene. More than that, however, I'm an advocate, on a base level, for good music that makes people feel good. As such, recommending Solar Flare is a no-brainer. Check out the full album above.
Solar Flare - Solar Flare will be independently released May 23rd
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry.
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