Death maulers Eternal Solstice rampage back with carnage on killer ‘Remnants of Immortality’

Eternal Solstice coverMuch has been made the past few years about the long-awaited new releases from Carcass and At the Gates, and for good reason. Each have had major impacts on the metal scene the past two decades, and their returns were seen as glorious, monumental events where past warriors come back to claim new triumphs.

But there are other bands resurfacing after long periods on inaction, including Dutch death machine Eternal Solstice. The band hasn’t delivered a new record since 1997’s “Demonic Fertilizer” before they went their separate ways. The group returned a few years ago and contributed to two split releases, and now they’re back with their first new full-length in 18 years, the gruff and punishing “Remnants of Immortality” that sounds as war-torn and brutal as their earlier work. They share some of the same traits as other death bands from their homeland, including Asphyx, Hail of Bullets, and Pestilence, as well as the bomb-blasting Bolt Thrower. This new, nine-track effort is furious and satisfying, and it’s great that this band could find new life, especially aligned with Dark Descent Records.

Eternal Solstice retain two long-time members in guitarist/vocalist Roman Soeterbroek and drummer Misha Hak, and joining them in this incarnation of the band are guitarist Ardy de Jong and bassist Tim Roeper. Even though they’re really just solidifying this lineup, they sound pretty damn formidable, with their assault well-oiled and violent, and with them hitting you as hard as they possibly can. Really, it’s almost as if this band didn’t miss a beat during their disappearance.

The instrumental title track opens the record in ominous fashion, with sirens wailing and war-like sounds grabbing your attention and holding it there. Then “Ritual Prey” explodes with a punchy death gallop, gruff growls, and a further sense that the warfront is mounting. “Striking again, again, again,” Soeterbroek howls, as strong leads burn and drive to the end of this very heavy, to-the-point track. “Walk in Darkness” has a clubbing, chugging open, giving off a Bolt Thrower feel and making you want to take up arms. Again the vocals are monstrous but also lurching, with a pace that crushes and blistering soloing that burns a hole through your soul. “Force Fed Suicide” has an ultra-aggressive start, with the drums pummeled and forcefully shouted growls erupting. The track has death-meets-thrash feel to it, with more electrifying soloing and a pace that rumbles all over the place. “Recipe for Death” starts with a slower, but no less heavy, pace, with furious lurching vocals that eventually turn into harsh grunts. The tempo speeds up markedly and starts stomping hard, eventually meeting up with a trudgy doom section, before it ignites all over again. Tortured wails are splashed behind the chaos, while guitars light up and deliver sleek soloing that powers the song until it fades away.

“Encroaching Horde” has a punishing open that encircles you and then swirls and mashes. The track is riffy and punchy, with catchy melodies intertwined that, fun as they may sound, still are delivered with stomping intent. Stronger guitar work colors this one, and the band just grinds you in its gears as it progresses. “Bleed for Me” has drumming that spills in from the last song, and it blisters and devastates you, throwing punches blindly. The vocals are as gruff and monstrous as anywhere else on this album, with Soeterbroek wailing, “I’ll take your innocence,” as those words are enhanced by the song’s thrashy mashing. “Extinction Debt” is introduced by mournful guitars that spread out their dark wings, but then the whole thing explodes and whips you with a fury. There are fantastic riffs involved, with all elements blasting forcefully and smothering chugging kicking up dirt. Closer “Subconscious Burial Ground” buries you with plastering, punishing, melodic death metal, with a sooty breakdown. The guitars hit a nasty groove, with the vocals refusing to relent and the final moments feeling like final push for total war.

Eternal Solstice’s reformation might not have gotten the in-the-street festivals similar to the aforementioned bands’ returns, but this group’s new album is just as rewarding and even more deadly. This Dutch death force deserves to be celebrated for their long-time commitment to the cause and for remaining as hungry and punishing as they were when they formed more than a quarter of a century ago. They’re hitting as hard as ever before, and the carnage on this new record proves they’re more than capable of increasing their already impressive body count.

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