Into the Sinners Circle


After a few demo releases and that killer split with Epi-Demic, Canadian punk thrashers Solanum are back with their first full-length altar offering.  Into the Sinner Circle is an album with no let-up, its 7 focused musical lacerations ignore the “stun” setting and fire every shot to kill.  This is stuff meant to be played as loud as humanly possible while you wreck your living room in a mosh frenzy at the height of a furious bender that started with beer and ended with 114 proof Old Grandad.  The vomit stains on your Discharge shirt only add to the charm of the experience.

Opener “P.T.S.D.” will make you have flashbacks of war even if you aren’t in the army.  Leeroy Shodine introduces a blunt force guitar trauma that kicks off with a staccato thrash riff and scales a barb wire fence after hopping a field of crust-punk landmine detonations.  Some mountain toppling, mid-tempo thrash breaks give time for the circle pit to get ready for the next charge, yet most of the time Shodine’s grinding riffage moves along quickly like a piss n’ vinegar mixture of Dead Horse, Slayer, Discharge, Bones Brigade, Behind Enemy Lines and D.R.I.  Throughout a groove is maintained by drummer Anders Land’s murderous rallies of d-beat, double bass and combustible fills colliding with bassist Nolan Smit’s gloriously audible, rampantly cutthroat bass lines.  Cam McFee’s vocals are a throaty, midrange shout that occasionally joins up in a back alley brawl with some roaring gang vocals, but for the most part he goes solo on the battlefield, yelling his head off until his larynx is reduced to a pus oozing, pulpy mess.  The end result of each player’s contribution is the audio equivalent of an airstrike, a carpet bombing, nuclear radiation and the impending fallout, emanating from your speakers all at once in one toxic, charmingly sloppy blast of human extinction.

An infectious, detuned thrash groove works up a sweat smelling of grain alcohol when “Homicide Suicide” comes barreling into the barroom.  I’m always a sucker for this type of mid-paced, sawblade assault…the likes of which is guaranteed to slice your legs at the kneecap and have you hobbling n’ moshing around on a pair of bloody stumps.  Land is a tempest of crashing cymbal carnage and belligerent fills that spray shot after shot across the snares n’ toms; keeping the barely contained chaos in check until the entire band launches into a deeply encrusted d-beat that’s so metallically fortified you couldn’t crack its foundation with armor piercing rounds.  The turbulent speed approaches a near grindcore level of intensity, yet Land never blasts, Smit’s bass is never buried beneath the avalanche of guitarmageddon and the riffs remain tightly coherent in their light-speed punk/metal abandon.  As goddamn ornery and downright nasty as this shit is, there is always enough song-structure to butter the bread and McFee’s enraged vocals stay firmly planted in crust-punk ethos.  A whooping cough bass lick sets the tone for “Strangled by Disease” in a matter of seconds…its delivery so pure punk fuckin’ rock by design that you know what’s coming.  Leeroy’s follow-up guitar riff is like a titanium bat across the face; it cooks on a savory, sludgy thrash groove that gives way to a hook-laden, unforgettable power-chord salvo that continually ratchets up the insanity until a breaking point of old school 80s extreme metal mayhem takes you on a one way ride to the glue factory.

An S.O.S., Morse code distress call opens “Symptoms of Solanum,” indicative of what you’ll be sending out after that lurching riff turns into a full-on, high-speed Discharge-styled monster backed by a dirty, deranged d-beat.  Anders fluxes the tempos constantly here and unleashes some domineering double-bass blasts that will blow the roof right off your house.  As usual, Shodine constantly swaps riffs, never relying on the same chord patterns while constantly pushing the speed, giving those meaty bass lines several instances to stab their way to the forefront of the action and latch onto your ears in equal measure with the guitars.  Cam never lets up for air throughout, his voice dripping with snake venom and battery acid as the rest of the boys provide additional shouts, death threats and anger overload whenever necessary.  The title track’s lead-in riff is so massive it practically stretches up to heaven, and decides to overthrow god in the midst of a hostile takeover.  Said riff almost bends with the weight of doom, though it maintains the aggression of pure molten thrash in its most endearingly primitive form, and there’s even some rather melodic lead shading thrown into the instrumental bombast for added effect.  Solanum are like a bunch of caged animals though, and it’s not long before a spry, lunging bass line and torso ripping percussive speed-burst sends the track headlong into a mosh so relentless it’d make Slayer blush.  This is my pick for the album’s top track and one to check out if you’re looking to get into these guys (you better be!).  “Narcotic Collapse” and “Beg for your Life” continue the onslaught with no drop in consistency or quality to be found.  In fact, “Narcotic Collapse” even spews out a killer little blink and you’ll miss it solo during its second half massacre.

I was highly anticipating this release after reviewing the split album with Epi-Demic and Solanum gave me everything I hoped for and much, much more.  Into the Sinner Circle is one raw, retching blast of crusty thrash decimation after another.  There are no clean guitars, epic melodic intentions or anything else to detract from the corrosive, internally poisoned mayhem these nuts create.  The riffs are fuckin’ pure gold, the drumming a sonic pummeling, the bass lines crystalline and technically sound and the whole shebang is topped off by knife-edge vocals that’ll carve an extra smile into your chin fat.  To sum it all up, this album and band kick complete and total fuckin’ ass…if you’re into this sound you will be doing yourself a great disservice by not checking out Solanum!  So check ‘em out!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jay S
December 1st, 2015


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