After releasing a full-length a couple years ago, Winnipeg’s Solanum has returned with an EP follow-up. “Judge-Mental” is a short offering that sums up exactly what Solanum is about in 4 tracks. The band plays a loose brand of crossover thrash, focused on punky rhythms and catchy songs. Though their tracks might run a tad longer than what most other crossover bands are doing, Solanum has no problems sustaining 4-minute songs. Each of the songs moves along at a speedy pace, offering a feast of riffs and hooks.
The clear highlight is the opener, “High Class”. The chorus of this song is an interesting instance where the riff is as catchy as the vocals that accompany it. It is built around a repeating pattern of notes (almost like a slow trill) that is absurdly memorable. It helps that the singer's shouts of “High! Class!” are perfect to yell along to. Both this riff and many of the later ones on this song (and EP) show significant influence from punk, with some wonky note choices. Relative to what many other thrash bands play, Solanum’s riffs are very unique. They’re a little more complex than punk, so they’ll be satisfying to the average crossover fan.
Another element of this release that stands out is the exceptional bass playing. Tracks like “It’s Getting Darker” and “High Class” instantly introduce you to the band’s bassist, who adds a touch of fuzz to his sound to create a distorted low end. This helps add to the punk feel, and the fuzz also contributes to the imperfect production the band has. Anything cleaner would sound too sterile for this type of band, and avoid the sound that Solanum was trying to achieve.
Relative to the band’s previous work, I foresee “Judge-Mental” as being the release I’ll be returning to the most. Whether you’re new to the band or have heard their previous album (and split in my case), “Judge-Mental” stands tall as being the best point of entry, and a promising indication of the band’s future direction.
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"It's Getting Darker"
4.2/5 or 84%.
Written by Scott