WINTER SOLSTICE
"The Fall of Rome"

(Metal Blade)

01. Following Caligula
02. Calibrate the Virus
03. Watcher
04. Courtesy Bow
05. The Fall of Rome
06. Malice In Wonderland
07. 55/23
08. The Hampton Roads Fourth Annual Parade of the Blind
09. To the Nines
10. L'aeroport

RATING: 4/10

With a riff straight out of the AT THE GATES reject pile, Virginia's WINTER SOLSTICE doggedly, dogmatically trudge through forty minutes of well-executed, but utterly unoriginal, Swedish-derived thrash. Between these guys and DARKEST HOUR plundering their national treasures, it's a wonder the government in Stockholm doesn't sue for war reparations!

Admittedly, these guys can pull off a decent start-stop breakdown (see just before the three-minute mark in "Calibrate the Virus"). And this is pure new-school thrash, sans keyboards, vocal variation or hit singles, for which I think we're supposed to give the band some scene points for extra credit. But Christ, this is just so formulaic and stale, all the integrity in the world can't save it. Even the mid-album acoustic piece is such a cliché at this point, why bother with it?

"The Fall of Rome" is well-played and sounds heavy enough, and WINTER SOLSTICE clearly have the tools to grow into something interesting, should they decide to start writing some songs with a hint of personality to them. Right now, though, they're mind-numbing, a textbook example of playing it safe, staying in the lines of the genre to please everybody, and ultimately pleasing no one. You just have to bring more to the table than this in 2005.

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