Solitaire - Extremely flammable 4/5

Reviewed: 12-17-04





Tracklist:

1. Countdown
2. Extremely flammable
3. Heroes fall down
4. Out of my role
5. Breaking point
6. Metalsquad
7. I won't come in peace
8. Speed trap
9. Steel against steel
10. Boy without a world


Wow, this latest batch of reviews has turned into a homage to classic thrash, with a Hirax review, a Necronomicon rating/blurb, and now a review of Solitaire's brand-new 2nd CD 'Extremely flammable'. Unlike the other bands, Solitaire were not a going concern during thrash's heyday; rather, I believe this Finnish five-piece formed in the mid-90s. No matter, as you could never tell Solitaire are a new act by listening to this CD, which features 37 minutes of pure speed-metal blitzkrieg unsullied by any trends of the last 15 years. Listening to this CD is like having a bulldozer in your living room. The production values, the performances, the arrangements, the lyrics, the riffs, the beats, and the songs all scream 80s thrash. Depending on your perspective, this can either be a good thing or a bad thing. If you're seeking the next Sonata Arctica or Edguy, then 'Extremely flammable' may be the aural equivalent of oral surgery with no anesthesia. But if you reminisce with fondness on the likes of early Agent Steel, Razor, Anthrax (Turbin era), Sacrifice, Assassin, and a dose of 'Kill 'em all'-period Metallica on warp speed, then you'll be in air-guitar heaven here.

To me, this CD's biggest selling points are its uncompromising pedal-to-the-metal, all-speed-all-the-time aesthetic, as well as the stellar vintage riffing of guitarists Riku and Waaqqu. This band has 2 speeds: Fast and faster. There are no moshing parts, no breakdowns, no peaceful acoustic interludes, and aside from a brief minute or 2 in "Steel against steel", no midtempo sections in the entire CD! For a certifiable speedfreak, life doesn't get much better than this, particularly when the tempos are paired with such deliciously piledriving riffs. Nonetheless, some might see the lack of variety in tempos as a downside, so consider yourselves warned. Also, beware that chrome-domed singer Mika is nothing special, using a fairly typical high-pitched, half-shouted, half-sung yelp. He's not bad, but no one's going to buy this CD to revel in Mika's mastery of the microphone.

At the end of the day, these guys do the retro-thrash thing better than just about any new band (i.e., not around in the 80s) I've heard. If this CD had come out in 1986, it would have been in my top 10 list for that year for sure. While I wouldn't rank it quite so high in 2004, that is more the product of my slightly changed musical taste than any infirmity in 'Extremely flammable'. So I tip my sweat-stained cap to these fearsome Finns, who have delivered perhaps the 2nd best thrash CD of the year, just a hair behind Exodus for the thrash throne.



KIT




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