"some music was meant to stay underground..."

70000 Tons of Metal - The World's Biggest Heavy Metal Cruise

Sol Asunder - "Asunder the Surface" (CD/EP)

Sol Asunder - "Asunder the Surface" CD/EP cover image

"Asunder the Surface" track listing:

1. Asunder The Surface
2. March Of The Legion
3. Mislead
4. Wrath
5. Worth The Tears

Reviewed by on August 8, 2009

"'Asunder the Surface' makes a great gateway EP to becoming a fan of Sol Asunder’s other albums, as each track highlights different styles of what the band is capable of. "

A screams and guitars straight out of In Flames' "The Jester Race" opens up the first track, "Asunder the Surface," an explosive start to the album. A listener could easily mistake San Francisco’s Sol Asunder for a Swedish band. I’ve heard many melodic death metal bands that stay in a comfort zone of clichéd dual guitar harmonies a la early In Flames and Opeth. Sol Asunder breaks out of this zone by incorporating outside influences of black and thrash metal. This blend leads to more diverse songwriting and interesting guitar riffage. This being said, the band still holds true to its roots.

The singer, Mica Maniac, has screams and growls that aren’t monotone and are understandable throughout the EP. He also creates interesting combinations of different pitched growls and screams that create some sort of melody instead of just screaming into a microphone. The guitars, played by Charles "Chazz" McConnell and Brian Kenny, are thrashy and melodic. The drummer, Keith Grimshaw, provides rhythmic double kick patterns that interact with the guitars. Nothing in this EP is over the top; all the instrumental work is very tasteful.

The second track, "March of the Legion," begins with a marching guitar riff and drumbeat in the vein of Diamond Head’s "Am I Evil," but a bit more varied. After about a minute of the marching beat with some spoken word vocals on top, the song picks up for the first verse. The verses in this song are awesome due to the insanity of the vocalist’s screams/growls, drummer’s broken double kick, blast beats, and tom work.

The fourth track, "Wrath," starts with clean guitars to throw the listener off guard for two seconds and then the song erupts with a blast beat matched with a harmonized guitar riff that is straight out of black metal. This six-minute epic has enough twists that, at times, it can be hard to follow or predict where it’s going. Yet somehow, I feel the need to bang my head every time I hear it.

Overall, "Asunder the Surface" is a great first studio effort. Fans of melodic death metal, black metal, or thrash should definitely check this album out. "Asunder the Surface" makes a great gateway EP to becoming a fan of Sol Asunder’s other albums, as each track highlights different styles of what the band is capable of. Its only drawbacks are that the final two tracks feel drawn out and can get boring, and the lack of an interlude or acoustic track doesn't give a chance for the ears to take a rest, but chances are, if you enjoy this kind of music, it won’t get old.

Highs: Good production and songwriting.

Lows: Longer songs can have trouble maintaining interest.

Bottom line: Melodic death metal taken to a new and modern level.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)