Neurotech - Solace review




Bandcamp music player
Reviewer:
7.0

26 users:
7.69
Band: Neurotech
Album: Solace
Release date: March 2021


01. Koma
02. Light Betides
03. Waking Silence
04. The Ashen Fields
05. In Raging Reclaim
06. Alias
07. Defy Our Oath
08. Stop The Bleeding
09. A Moment Loss
10. Solace


Like Mechina, Neurotech is a project centered around combining metal with electronic/industrial music. Like Mechina, the Neurotech project was highly prolific between 2011 and 2017 before slowing down/going on hold, and like Mechina, Neurotech has released a new album in early 2021. I was underwhelmed by Siege; does Solace see Neurotech differ from Mechina on that point?

I can't say I approached Solace with Mechina so heavily on my mind, but as I started writing this, the parallels become stronger and stronger. Both really grabbed my attention with albums in 2014 (Xenon and Infra Versus Ultra), and I had a sense of diminishing returns with the subsequent releases from each project, to the extent that I felt mainly indifference when Wulf announced that Neurotech would be put on hold whilst he pursued his electronic NeuroWulf project. However, at its best, the combination of various electronic approaches with a heavily low-end-focused industrial metal edge and robotic ethereal vocals can be very potent, so I was intrigued following the news that there would be another album from Neurotech. Overall, I generally like Solace, but some of the issues I had with Siege also apply here.

NeuroWulf was a logical extension to the direction taken on albums such as Evasive, where the metal was almost completely forgotten in favor of a trance-based electronic sound. With Solace, Wulf shows that he's not completely done with metal yet; however, the metal elements do generally feel quite underdeveloped here. Like on Siege, the guitars commonly form an amorphous low-end chug, doing little more than just adding some heft to important moments. I guess that's a common trend in Neurotech's music and industrial/cyber metal in general, but it felt particularly limited here; I can't say there was a moment when I felt like the metal elements added much more than the bare minimum to the song.

With that being the case, it's pretty clear that the responsibility for carrying interest across the album falls upon the electronics, and there's quite an array of approaches employed on Solace; the general tone is pretty consistently blissful throughout, but whether that comes from delicate keyboard motifs ("Light Betides"), rampaging beats ("Waking Silence", "A Moment Loss"), more brash dancefloor-oriented synth blasts ("In Raging Reclaim"), the slow trance vibes of "The Ashen Fields" or any of the other approaches employed, it's delivered in a varied manner across the album. There's fast songs next to slow ones ("Waking Silence" followed by "The Ashen Fields"), and heavy tracks next to lighter ones ("Alias", which features some of the more memorable guitar riffs, is followed by the very bouncy "Defy Our Oath").

Wulf has an array of tools and approaches to use; still, the sense of diminishing returns I mentioned earlier that I've felt in relation to the project as a whole does apply to Solace as an album. I enjoy the first three songs a fair amount, but despite the fact that there are different electronic elements being used, the general tone of the music, particularly due to the fairly invariant vocal style and tonal range of the vocals, ends up losing my attention fairly soon after "Waking Silence", one of the strongest songs here, is finished. Beyond that point, it becomes an album with snippets of engaging moments (a dynamic build here, a nice keyboard melody there) dotted around songs that pass me by whilst making little mark; too much of Solace feels like there's a lot on the surface, but not much depth. The one major exception to this is the title track, a pretty spectacular close to the album that has a real evocative and immersive atmosphere from the first second that I struggle to find much of elsewhere on Solace; this track builds impressively to a rather epic mid-song climax, with some really ear-catching electronics later on. It's a song that reminds me of why I was interested in Neurotech in the first place and what I was hoping for more of on Solace.

Solace is a respectable return to the Neurotech project for Wulf, and one that is better than I'm arguably giving it credit for in this review; my overall impressions of the album are more positive than they probably sound based on what I've written. However, that mild sense of being underwhelmed has been my abiding memory of listening to the latter half of the record, with the obvious exception of the title track. The album's definitely worth a listen if you're unfamiliar with the project and the mixture of bright electronics with an industrial metal edge sounds appeal, but if you found yourself losing interest with the project's releases in the last couple of years before the hiatus, I don't think this is going to reinvigorate your interest.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 7
Songwriting: 6
Originality: 7
Production: 8


 



Written on 20.03.2021 by Hey chief let's talk why not


Comments

Comments: 7   Visited by: 55 users
20.03.2021 - 16:29
Rafael Cevidanes
Account deleted
Great review. That's it. The album gives off this sense of uninsterest. As a long-term fan, I found nothing to feel entertained by that sounds different than anything Neurotech hasn't released before.
Loading...
21.03.2021 - 12:48
SamuelYK

Solid review, but a very lazy one. if you go to MS review of debut Antagonist the major complaints are about "generic metal" so that's always been the deal with Neurotech - not unjust but you wouldn't complain about Rammstein not having Dream Theater riffs?
" there's a lot on the surface, but not much depth" have you really listened to the album more than once? how much stuff is happening all the time, not in the terms of riffs but how elaborate electronic stuff is? you find that much detail only in a handful of bands. (like I said earlier, if you want riffs - listen to something else which is riff based (rammstein vs dream theater case)
" particularly due to the fairly invariant vocal style and tonal range of the vocals" true Wulf is not the best vocalist, but not a word is mentioned how catchy the lines are, and almost constant great vocal harmonies which drive the tracks with memorable lyrics (it reminds of Ghost and Tobias, who also isnt the best singer, but the delivery is what matters)
Also the latter half of the album is the most experimental one, you have the riffy Alias, the New wave Defy Out Oath, Stop the bleeding could be on some futuristic game soundtrack immediately, A moment lost is the one which is more standard upbeat tune, but the title track Solace is just incredible with every single listen it gets better.

Like I said, not a bad review, but you're nitpicking stuff which has already been nitpicked 10 years ago and it is a part of Neurotech sound from forever. (if I'm wrong please listen to Decipher Volumes & Infra Versus Ultra which are considered classic Neurotech and count the riffs and compare them to Solace )
hope he continues this way, the vast majority digs the album! just a fan defending an artist and his choices, like it or leave it
cheers!
Loading...
21.03.2021 - 14:59
musclassia

Written by SamuelYK on 21.03.2021 at 12:48

Solid review, but a very lazy one...
just a fan defending an artist and his choices, like it or leave it
cheers!


Based on the ratings on your user page, it looks like you're a very big fan of Neurotech, so I'm not sure how this will go, but I'll give it a try:

Written by SamuelYK on 21.03.2021 at 12:48

if you go to MS review of debut Antagonist the major complaints are about "generic metal" so that's always been the deal with Neurotech - not unjust but you wouldn't complain about Rammstein not having Dream Theater riffs?


If something was an issue 10 years ago and it's still an issue today, that doesn't make it better, if anything it's worse, so it's still fair to comment on it. You even said in the album thread that 'Neurotech always had boring guitars to make room for amazing electronics'; why would I not comment and say that the guitars being underdeveloped was an issue, particularly considering that this project seems to have been specifically revived in order for Wulf to contine exploring metal music within electronic music? I wouldn't complain about Rammstein not having Dream Theater riffs, but I would complain if Rammstein had riffs that weren't interesting; it's not like the riffs on Du Hast or Mein Teil are adventurous or technical, but they're groovy and fun, and that's what makes Rammstein songs enjoyable. Also:

Written by SamuelYK on 21.03.2021 at 12:48

(if I'm wrong please listen to Decipher Volumes & Infra Versus Ultra which are considered classic Neurotech and count the riffs and compare them to Solace )


I discovered Neurotech through Infra Versus Ultra, and it's by far my favourite release from the project, and I've heard every major release by Neurotech multiple times; I agree that the riffs aren't elaborate there either, but they feel more purposeful and developed than the metal arrangements on Solace.

Written by SamuelYK on 21.03.2021 at 12:48

" there's a lot on the surface, but not much depth" have you really listened to the album more than once? how much stuff is happening all the time, not in the terms of riffs but how elaborate electronic stuff is? you find that much detail only in a handful of bands.


By 'lots of the surface, not much depth', I didn't mean that there wasn't a lot going on; I think by highlighting the range of electronic approaches used on Solace, I recognize that there's a lot going on. It's not that there aren't layers to the arrangement, but that the music has a bright, shiny surface that sounds impressive when you first encounter it, but after hearing 5 songs or 5 albums of celestial electronic sheen, amorphous chug and robo-vocals in the chorus, it gets a bit old if there's nothing particularly remarkable in that specific song to retain your attention, which I found to be the case for most of Solace. And it's not like the music is that tremendously elaborate; in the chorus of A Moment Loss, you have a overlayer of ambience, the low-end chug, the pulsing beats and a simple keyboard motif. In the chorus of Defy Our Oath, there's a layer of celestial ambience, a low-end chug, a beat and a bouncy keyboard motif. In the chorus of Alias, there's a dominant low-end chug, a beat, an ambient keyboard layer, and an additional, more elaborate keyboard line. Add in the vocals, and there's five principal components (I'm sure there's a few additional layers buried deep in the mix, I'd expect nothing less on an electronic album) being consistently utilized, which isn't a big departure from a 5-man band with a vocalist, guitarist, bassist, drummer and keyboardist.

Written by SamuelYK on 21.03.2021 at 12:48

" particularly due to the fairly invariant vocal style and tonal range of the vocals" true Wulf is not the best vocalist, but not a word is mentioned how catchy the lines are, and almost constant great vocal harmonies which drive the tracks with memorable lyrics (it reminds of Ghost and Tobias, who also isnt the best singer, but the delivery is what matters)


If you sing in the same small range of notes and in the same effects-laden style across songs and album, eventually it's going to be harder and harder to be catchy, as that vocal melody will immediately be competing with very similar ones already in the listener's head; for me, after half a dozen spins, not enough of the lines have managed to stick in my head for me to consider the vocal melodies here consistently catchy. I had the exact same issue with Siege by Mechina; one dramatic vocal melody by itself stands out, but if you overload an album with them, they blend together unless they're really well-constructed, which they weren't. Waking Silence, Defy Our Oath, perhaps Light Betides, I will say are catchy, but beyond that I don't think it's that catchy an album, and considering how reliably memorable the songs and vocals on IVU were (particularly on the likes of When The Nights Falls and Ultra), I do consider this to be a limitation of Solace.

Written by SamuelYK on 21.03.2021 at 12:48

hope he continues this way, the vast majority digs the album!


Do they? I couldn't actually see any reviews of the album other than my own when searching on Google, but the votes for the album on here so far have been pretty middling, and only 2 people have actually written summaries of it on Bandcamp; of course, those write-ups are positive (it's a buyer review on Bandcamp, anyone purchasing the album after having the opportunity to stream it for free is going to like it), but I would've expected more if it had gone down that emphatically. I'm sure the user comments on Youtube videos/social media are broadly positive, but to be frank, unless a band really drops the ball, that's always going to be the case, so I'm not sure too much can be read into that.


I'm being honest when I say that I'm very happy that you found the album to be so rewarding, but it's clear that the project has connected with you to a pretty special level, considering your only comments on the site are for this album, and you've rated four of their albums either 9 or 10 out of 10. That's great; I certainly have bands that their new music just instantly clicks with me (Cult Of Luna, Amorphis), and I don't want to take that away from you, but I listen to a rather large number of different artists, primarily metal but also a reasonable amount of electronic-based and other non-metal music, and I don't find Neurotech to be that special. Still, I've really clicked with his music in the past, particularly Infra Versus Ultra, so I am capable of recognizing music in the style of Solace to be great; I just don't think Solace is a great album. I've listened to it during a period where I've been listening to quite a lot of really good new albums, including the primarily electronic new record by Genghis Tron (one that only uses metal in patches, but in a manner that I find a lot more interesting than on Solace), and this record just didn't make much of an impact outside of the title track.
Loading...
21.03.2021 - 16:37
SamuelYK

I value your opinion since you surely listen to way more metal than I do! Will check out Genghis Tron, I listened to Mechina and found it boring cheers!!
Loading...
21.03.2021 - 16:41
musclassia

Written by SamuelYK on 21.03.2021 at 16:37

Will check out Genghis Tron


Hope you enjoy it, it's a different style of electronic music to Neurotech (more ambient-y and drawn out, more in a Boards of Canada/Jon Hopkins direction), but it has a similar overall euphoric tone and use of vocal effects to Neurotech's material. I'd stick to the new album coming out on Friday; I saw from your comment in the album thread that you're approaching Neurotech more from an electronic music fan perspective, and Genghis Tron's pre-hiatus still is very much extreme metal with electronica in it, whilst the upcoming album is electronic with bits of non-extreme metal/rock
Loading...
21.03.2021 - 16:48
SamuelYK

Thank you, I will check it out! Boards of Canada & Jon Hopkins are my drug of choice too!
Loading...
22.03.2021 - 13:12
AnGina--
Dark Phoenix
A very solid release, for me personally it surpases The Catalyst, as I simply couldn't embrace that album. I'm very glad Andrej revided Neurotech, I'm glad he took the time out when he felt needed so. Solace is not outstanding, I kind of miss having placed a few truly bombastic, memorable tracks on album (which I found on Antagonist, Infra Verus Ultra, Stigma and In Remission), but the overall vibe is still there. And it's not generic, it's not boring, it's just not as breath-taking as many other works by Neuro were. All in all, I really hope Neurotech stays alive for a while now, always happy to hear new music by this particular project of Wulf's.

And to add - this a great review, not only do I agree with it mostly, but it's very detailed, in-depth and well written. I would definitely not call it a lazy one (quite the opposite).
----
You think darkness is your ally? You merely adopted the dark. I was born in it. Molded by it. I didn't see the light until I was a man. But it was nothing to me but blinding.
Loading...

Hits total: 814 | This month: 38