Winter Solstice
The Fall of Rome

For a label that already has Unearth, the signing of this band and release of their debut album seems odd considering that this band are virtually identical in every way to Unearth. With the exception of a sterner vocalist and a more gravelly production, Winter Solstice have the very same dual Swedish melodic death metal meets Maiden meets hardcore approach that has been pummeled into the ground over the last couple of years. That’s not to say The Fall of Rome is a bad album for a metalcore offering per say, it’s just that placed next to 90% of the metalcore in my collection, I would not be able to pick it out from the likes of similarly proficient but middle tier bands like Last Perfection, Bloodlined Calligraphy, My Bitter End, Imperial.

While the Rome theme initially has some appeal with the moniker, artwork and opening track “Following Caligula,” the rest of the album however steps into more cliched, familiar territory with quirky song titles and themes of personal angst, loss, blah, blah, blah. Not quite as polished or solo savvy as obvious peers Unearth, Winter Solstice do have some decent moments and at least make the album a solid offering, albeit a familiar one. Aforementioned opening track “Following Caligula” has an unusual take on the staple breakdown with a slightly different note progression, but from there on, it’s all pretty much a paint by numbers affair with the usual introspective interludes (“The Fall of Rome”), clean/spoken word vocal segues (“Courtesy Bow”), choppy dual riffs and galloping structures all mired with burly breakdowns; all of them done well enough within the confines of the genre. It should be noted that the band has a lot of thanks to God and Jesus in the thank you’s but you never get the sense this is a forced Christian band with their message on their sleeve like say Zao, Symphony In Peril or Jesus Wept; Winter Solstice come across far more as a competent metalcore band that just happen to

Two things give Winter Solstice just a tiny bit of character amid the pretty standard metalcore musings; first, vocalist Matt has a genuinely pained scream that virtually never lets up and the production, which isn’t the usual Tue Madsen, Eric Rachael or Zeuss sound is grainy and biting rather than the usual pristine overly polished sound of metalcore. Still, the music itself follows the usual metalcore standards. Tracks like “The Hampton Roads Fourth Annual Parade of the Blind” and “To The Nines” all contain well worn metalcore traits that most will find tiresome, but the avid metalcore fan such as me will no doubt enjoy despite their familiarity. None of the tracks truly stand out as Winter Solstice don’t deliver that album defining track, but instead all 9 of the actual songs are of a consistent, decent quality that you can listen to from beginning to end without much effort, but with a certain level of enjoyment. Six minute closer “L’aeroport” could be considered the album’s best cut because of its length and varied tempos comes across as

Winter Solstice aren’t doing anything new on their debut album, and one has to wonder if the band has the staying power in a genre where bands fall by the wayside and break up seemingly daily. But The Fall of Rome is one of the better metalcore efforts I’ve heard recently, at least within the restrictive genre and has a sincerity that often comes across forced from many of their peers. Generically solid.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
March 7th, 2005

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