Friday Full-Length: Solace, Further

The riff-mad scourge of the Jersey Shore, Solace made their full-length debut in 2000 through MeteorCity with the somewhat counterintuitively titled Further. What was then the four-piece of guitarist Tommy Southard, bassist Rob Hultz (now of Trouble), drummer Bill “Bixby” Belford and the vocalist I only ever knew by his first name, JasonSouthard and Hultz had been in punk bands together before their heavier post-grunge outfit Godspeed — whose lineup also featured Chris Kosnik pre-The Atomic Bitchwax and current Solace drummer Tim Schoenleber — were snagged in a major label cull by Atlantic Records (see also: Core) following the emergence of Monster Magnet. In 1994, they released their lone LP, Ride, toured with Black Sabbath and Cathedral, and collaborated with Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden on the Nativity in Black tribute album. It was quite a time.

Solace was a different animal. And very definitely an animal. Further was preceded by the Jersey Devils EP (discussed here), which came out in 1999 through MeteorCity and Freebird Records as a split with fellow Garden Staters Solarized, as well as a demo tape (yes, a tape) and a two-songer 7″, but obviously its 53-plus minutes were the first deeper look at what they were about. Mostly volatility.

Were they punk? Hardcore? Metal? They could be righteously aggressive and noisy, roll on a riff for however long, or twist their way through polar shifts within the span of a song like “Black Unholy Ground” or charge through the scorching “Whistle Pig” before turning to acoustic-led melancholia on “Hungry Mother.” Further was likewise chaotic and dynamic, but it all somehow held together. Southard would prove to be the madman behind the madcap, but taken as a whole, Further feels untamed and willful, and when they hit it, the force of their delivery remains unto itself. I’m not going to pretend to be impartial about the band or this record, but after I don’t even want to guess how many times I’ve heard it, I’m still blindsided almost every time.

The seven-minutes-each “Mandog” and “Black Holy Ground” open, and “Followed,” which follows (ha.), tops eight, so by the time you’re three songs into it, it’s been about 25 minutes. And from the first punch of solace furtherHultz‘s bass as “Mandog” kicks in to the manic careening circa five minutes in, the shred and the way they seem to throw the song down the stairs as they enter the fade, it remains a signature piece. “Black Holy Ground” is tense in the drums and finds Jason brooding in the first verse, but malleable enough as a singer to carry that melody and move to a shoutier approach as the proceedings grow more intense. It all ends in a wash of noise, but before that, there’s that-era-Clutch-worthy nod and hardcore-punk forward thrust, and 24 years later you’re still kind of left wondering how it all holds together.

Because with some bands, it’s the bass or the drums keeping a central rhythm while the guitar goes off and does it’s thing. You hear that a lot. It’s the classic power trio modus. With Further, it’s not that Solace aren’t tight — if they weren’t, the album probably wouldn’t exist — but that it’s all-in on all-out. Everybody’s in on it. Maybe that applies to the vocals to a lesser extent, but even over the course of “Followed,” Jason ends up in a much different place than he began in topping the build first with subdued, low-mouth singing and barking out later for “Some semblance of self/Some semblance of love” before the cymbal wash leads into the finish. “Whistle Pig” and the later “Suspicious Tower” are shorter and more direct, but still dare the listener to keep up if they can, and on the other side of “Hungry Mother” awaits the tense plod of “Angels Dreaming,” which spends its first four minutes holding itself back tempo-wise before finally breaking free with what in a lot of contexts would be boogie but in Solace‘s hands becomes a sledge. And of course the solo nudges in on psychedelic territory before the big slowdown, because how could it not?

It’s not that Solace, even at this point, were ever lazy in songwriting or haphazard stylistically. Rest assured, they’ve always known precisely what they’re about; it’s who they are. And Further was cohesive — it’s not that Solace got pissed off, hit record and that was it. The record makes its own kind of sense, and its refusal to do otherwise or to compromise in persona or spirit is palpable, whether it’s “Hungry Mother” or “Suspicious Tower,” which starts with a sample from the 1962 sci-fi flick The Creation of the Humanoids, or the 11-minute “Heavy Birth/2-Fisted,” for which my brain still does a “holy shit here we go” every time it comes on. Aggro groove, a trippy middle with toms thudding away behind paid off by shred and a cacophonous but controlled assault to end its extended, sweeping course. I’m not sure how many other bands could even turn that into a song, let alone that one.

Tumult be thy name. Different editions of Further have bonus covers of Iron Maiden‘s “Another Life” and Misfits‘ “We Bite,” the latter of which feels like a better fit but both of which are thoroughly brought into Solace‘s own sound. And maybe that’s not such a surprise now, nearly a quarter-century after the fact with however many microgenres branched off from the core of heavy rock and roll, but the punk-metal Solace wrought on Further would remain a definitive presence in their subsequent work, whether it was 2003’s 13 (discussed here), the 2004 split with Greatdayforup that introduced Justin Daniels on yes-we-need-more guitar, or the fraught-in-the-making 2010 third album, A.D. (review here), after which they actually disbanded until coming back with a new lineup for the 2017 EP, Bird of Ill Omen (review here) and ensuing fourth full-length, The Brink (review here), which in all honesty I’ll tell you was something I didn’t imagine would ever actually happen until late-2019 when it did.

And what could be more Solace than that? The very definition of ‘you never know.’ Now fronted by Justin “Has a Surname” Goins, with Southard and Daniels on guitar, the aforementioned Schoenleber on drums and bassist Mike SicaSolace are slated to play next year’s Planet Desert Rock Weekend in Las Vegas, and whether it’s there or some dive in Asbury — they were the kings of Long Branch’s The Brighton Bar, sadly closed — I would encourage you heartily to witness first-hand what they bring to the stage when the opportunity presents itself. Fury like no other.

As always, I hope you enjoy. The band have been putting songs up one at a time through their catalog on their YouTube, if you want to hit that up.

How ’bout that Quarterly Review, huh? It’s a doozy, and if you missed it the other however-many times I said so, it’s only halfway over. 50 more reviews will roll out next Monday to Friday, so sit tight. Plenty more to come.

Tonight is the variety show for The Pecan’s school. It’s at the high school auditorium, kind of a big deal to the kids, blah blah. She’s doing a stand-up routine of math jokes. Killed at dress rehearsal. Brave, all that. Fine. It’s at 6PM, which because I’m in my 40s feels like a decent time for a show to start.

The Zelda saga continues in our home. We borrowed my nephew’s old GameCube so we could play The Wind Walker this week. Between The Patient Mrs. and I, I’m pretty sure someone has gotten hit in Zelda-related incidents the last three days in a row, so you can see how that’s going. Last night I got hit — hard — for falling in lava in whatever early-game dungeon it was, and just kind of shut down for the night. The Patient Mrs., prone to taking it all on herself anyway, stepped in and got the grappling hook, but yeah. Broadly speaking, it sucked. We had a good first night with it on Sunday, but then, the new thing is always an easy day.


We’re also shit-broke, so that’s a fun additional layer of stress. Turns out the impending Budapest trip cost all the money forever. Yay.

Have a great and safe weekend. I’m gonna shower after dropoff, throw in a load of laundry and try to find some kind of breakfast that isn’t binge-eating cheese or almond/pecan butter. I’ll start setting up the next QR post for Monday and maybe do some listening, but the break is what I’m after, so the sooner I’m in it the better. Though the shower is imperative there as well.

Thanks for reading.

No merch up right now, but FRM anyway.

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3 Responses to “Friday Full-Length: Solace, Further

  1. Ea says:

    Believe it or not, I’ve never heard that Solace album – it’s really good and full of energy. Thanks for putting it up and writing about the history and connections.

  2. Shayne Dey says:

    Great review of one of my favourite LP’s and bands. I still remember the day a tiny record store in Melbourne suggested I buy the ‘Distanced from Reality’ EP that had just come in. That dude changed my life. Hopefully one day I’ll see them live, what a great band. Have a great weekend mate.

  3. Jared says:

    One of the early albums I remember discovering when I dove into the “Stoner” (and like) genre back in mid-late 2000s. Always loved the sample from “Creation of the Humanoids” on Suspicious Tower, as well as what they used in Once Around the Sun on “13”. I grabbed this album on vinyl years back when that Casey guy who ran All That Is Heavy into the ground was fire-selling rare personal collection stuff from the previous owner. He threw in 3 demo DVDs for free that I guess guys from the band had sent? There’s a note in one of them to the effect of “check this out and tell us what you think!”. Haven’t watched them yet actually. Should pop them in one day revel in the inevitable room-in-the-back-of-a-dive bar quality (not saying so in a negative or sarcastic way).

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