As striking an encounter as you could wish for Hundred Years Apart the new album from UK rock band Grace Solero, is an impacting encounter which cannot fail to wake the imagination and stir up a very healthy appetite for its enticing potency and dramatic sounds. Admittedly it is not a release which grips with the same strength of appeal and success across all its thirteen tracks, the album making an imposing initial impact which only deepens and grows across subsequent plays but it also has moments where it just does not spark any real fire or hunger as found elsewhere. Nevertheless it is a release which leaves thoughts and emotions eager to hear more and expectations rife that the London based quartet is an emerging presence set to ignite in our psyche whether we like it or not.
Formed by the core of the singer and guitarist Grace Solero who lends her name to the band and California born lead guitarist Dan Beaulaurier, the band merge numerous rock and metal styles into something rivetingly distinct. As the new album shows there is a definite similarity to Skunk Anansie, Grace’s style and startling range bred from the same natural sources as blessed Skin, whilst musically the band sculpt tracks with a merger of styles which captivate through the purest addiction forging grooves, hooks, and melodic flames. Their debut album of 2010 New Moon drew acclaim and strong attention with fans and media but you suspect that this will be classed as foreplay to a greater response and recognition as the Wohone Records released Hundred Years Apart searches out more passions to tempt and persuade. With a line-up completed by drummer Maurizio Liberato and bassist Bjorn Zetterlund, Grace Solero will be ingraining their existing mark to richer success and deeper depths if not now definitely ahead.
The first half of the album is certainly its strongest and the band ensures first contact is a memorable and rousing strike, opener Riptide riling the senses in a caustic and inventive stomp. Guitars make the first electrified stroke of the ears soon joined by the drama clad expression of Grace, her delivery immediately shaking any lethargy from senses and thoughts. The strolling gait of the song is sculpted by a great moody bass sound and shimmering acidic guitar tempting which subsequently erupts into a squalling fire of energy and sound as all aspects fuse into a sonic brawl clad in contagion. Like the album overall, it is fair to say the song is not leaving existing invention in rock or metal opened mouthed in awe but undoubtedly gives it a kick up the backside in passion and adventure. Repetition plays a great part in many of the songs lures and the first is a prime example, a riff and hook niggling throughout with a singular voice and intent to great effect.
The following Electro takes the strong start and lifts it up further levels, a sinister dark groove preying on the passions from its opening breath whilst barbed allurements and melodic infectiousness emerge to build an anthemic cage to which passions can only submit and flourish. The new single from the album, the track also features the irresistible tones of Tristania’s Mariangela Demurtas who alongside Grace makes a union which only accelerates the charge of emotions greedy to embrace the fiery evocation.
We Don’t Wanna takes its lead from its predecessor, the track though slightly more reserved riding upon thumping rhythms and jagged riffs to enslave the imagination whilst the vocals glide and soar with beauty and causticity over it’s the bait. The track as the first pair shows the skill off the band in sculpting irresistible and provocative entrapments but also in breeding a variety across the songs and sound offered, the third stretching the expanse again. It may not be a boldly new sound but the band certainly creates a refreshing and highly varied one.
The likes of the emotionally and musically intense St Ives with its great gnarly bass spawned groove clad prowl and the smouldering Unless, a track which brews a rising crescendo of fervour, reinforce the pull of the album whilst Circles is a soaring blaze of vocal and melodic drama veined by further infection fuelled grooves and wonderfully niggling hooks. All three songs leave a hunger for more ripe intent though in some ways disappointment follows.
After a thrilling cover of the classic Audrey Clark and Lori Kramer penned Yard of Blonde Girls, grunge and noise rock essences wrapping the offering, the album raises one last peak before slipping from its pedestal. Far Away is another smouldering seduction which places a spellbinding cast over the senses, one raising in intensity and passion the further into its trap you immerse. With a persistent hook nagging away within its belly the song is a thrilling absorbing adventure which probably goes some way to making the likes of Falling Down and Real feel an antic-climax in comparison. Both tracks as well as The Woman By the River are superbly crafted and presented in their individual guises but despite all presenting compelling elements lack the spark and character to stand away from expectations. Their blandness, for want of a better word, against previous tracks is a drop which presents the album from challenging best of honours though they cannot prevent Hundred Years Apart from being one of the more exciting and captivating releases over recent months. The closing Eternal Love emphasises that, its Eastern kissed melodies and exhaustive fire a final drama to drool over.
Hundred Years Apart is a great and thoroughly satisfying album even if one which misses its full potential. It does cement Grace Solero as a band with a seeming destiny to ignite UK heavy rock music, something they have already started with this very enjoyable release.
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