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Solitary – XXV Live At Bloodstock

Solitary
XXV Live At Bloodstock
by Chris Hicklin at 09 May 2022, 5:49 AM

Although various British acts such as VENOM and DISCHARGE have had a major influence on the emergence of Thrash Metal, the UK itself has never been Thrash Central. It has produced a handful of legitimate classic acts like ACID REIGN and LAWNMOWER DETH, although even these were arguably latecomers to the party, but in the years since several more successful acts have emerged and SOLITARY is one of them. Formed in Preston (a city I avoided attending University in by the skin of my teeth, I took a year out to play music and ended up doing Uni in a seaside resort drinking beers on the beach every day) Lancashire in 1994, they have released four full length albums as well as a host of EPs, split releases and live albums.

This release documents a celebratory concert which they performed at the UK’s Bloodstock Open Air Festival in 2019. For a little background, Bloodstock is a fairly large Metal festival held annually in Derbyshire UK, I attended it myself last year, it was the first thing I did as lockdown was lifted. They hold a huge nationwide competition each year to populate their newcomers’ stage, aptly named the New Blood Stage, and as well as the main arena they also have a stage for relatively well-known bands called the Sophie Lancaster Stage, named for a young girl who was tragically beaten to death in an unprovoked attack, for nothing more than looking different. It is this stage to which SOLITARY took for their 25th anniversary performance.

So, digging into this release, as a live album one of the first things to note is that the recording is excellent, as one would expect from the fine sound engineers at Bloodstock. There is great separation between each instrument, the drums sound superb, the vocals are crystal clear and the guitars are big and chunky sounding. Opening the gig with an atmospheric introduction of acoustic guitars with wailing harmonized guitars chiming over the top named “Blackened Skies” you can hear the crowd cheering as the band takes to the stage, and without a word launches into their brutal track “Trigger Point Atrocity” from 2017’s “The Diseased Heart of Society” LP. It is an impressive assault, Richard Sherrington’s vocals are on fine form. He has a very gravelly delivery and doesn’t go for a big range, but he hits the notes well and the vocals are definitely singing, not screaming. The guitars are fast and attacking and the rhythm section perfectly synchronised. Andy Mellor who had recently replaced the guitarist who performed this track originally delivers a blisteringly good guitar solo as he does at numerous points throughout this set.

As this is a live album I am not going to break down every song for you, suffice it to say the whole set is executed to perfection. For the first few songs barely a word is spoken between tracks except to shout the name of the oncoming onslaught, it isn’t until track five that Sherrington takes a break to introduce the band and explain the reason for the festivities, and in his thick and endearing Northern accent ask “well I take it you like Thrash Metal yeah? I’ll give you fookin’ Thrash Metal” before introducing the track “Architects of Shame” explaining that it is about “some incarcerated 1970s entertainers”. This may leave some of you with a blank expression on your face, and if you are one of those people, I can tell you he is talking about some luminaries of the British TV and music scene who were found to have been abusing their positions to commit terrible sexual abuse of children and adults. The most prolific of these was Jimmy Savile, a DJ, children’s TV and Top of the Pops presenter, a Knight Of The Realm no less, friend to royalty, stars and politicians alike. A man so trusted and powerful he was handed the keys to the country’s most notorious psychiatric hospital, which he prowled alone picking his victims at will and committing his evil acts with utter impunity. Although his activities were an open secret amongst the elite, he was not unmasked until recently.
Sounds incredible I know, they gave a creepy kids TV presenter free run of an asylum housing disturbed and vulnerable violent criminals?! It’s like a plot from a horror movie, but I can assure you this is all true and recent British history to boot. Anyway, I digress, it’s a great track.

The set ends with “Requiem” a Bay Area sounding effort which showcases all the band members skills at their absolute height, and with nothing more than a “thank you” it is over and the band has left the stage. I didn’t see this one in person, but I feel that it was a consummate performance, and the crowd must have had a wild time. Being on in the early afternoon, the set is short and sweet at eight tracks, so they have padded the release out with some heavily compressed “remixed and remastered” versions of a few of the songs from their “XXV” EP. I thought these were a little heavy-handed in the mastering personally, they have tried to push the volumes up too high, but they are all great songs.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Blackened Skies
2. Trigger Point Atrocity
3. Keep Your Enemies Closer
4. The Edge of Violence
5. Architects of Shame
6. The Diseased Heart of Society
7. Unidentified
8. Requiem
9. Requiem (XXV Remixed & Remastered)
10. Within Temptation (XXV Remixed & Remastered)
11. Keep Your Enemies Closer (XXV Remixed & Remastered)
Lineup:
Richard Sherrington - Vocals, Guitars (rhythm)
Gareth Harrop - Bass
Roy Miller - Drums
Andy Mellor - Guitars (lead)
Record Label: Metalville Records
     


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