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  This Is Solidstate Vol. 3
Artist: Various
Label: Solidstate 
Length: 17 tracks/58:43 minutes

Compilation albums are difficult to review but the latest sampler from Solid State Records, This is Solidstat, Vol. 3 is another fine showcase of the power that the labels roster holds as well as a sign of things to come. It starts with a demo version of a Project 86 song that is familiar to anyone who has seen the band live in the last year or so, "SpyHunter." This version doesn't quite capture the energy of this band, but it does build excitement for Project's next full release. There are three more tracks at the beginning of the disc that you won't get anywhere else just yet, including new songs from Demon Hunter and Still Breathing, as well as a previously unreleased track from Zao, "The Icharus Complex." These songs are all cool and raise the hype for their respective bands.

Every other song on this comp is available on a full length release. If you are a diehard fan of Solid State bands, save your money and buy the full length releases when they become available. You'll be much more satisfied. However, if you're looking for a few heavy tunes to add to your ska collection, by all means this is for you.

Duncann Tripp 3/17/2002

At their best, record label samplers are patchy mixes of attractiveness and warty ugliness, and the third addition in the This Is Solid State series is no exception.

The most intriguing track comes from Demon Hunter, not because of its quality, but the composition of the band, a super-group of pseudonymed mystery metallers. It's got all the necessary elements: chunky guitar sludge, bass heavy roaring and a semi-melodic chorus, but there's something missing. Perhaps it all sounds just too familiar. 

Fighting for King of the Pile are the coruscating tracks by Narcissus ("November 94") and Soapbox ("Gone") two relatively recent Solid State acquisitions poached from Takehold Records and Endtime Productions respectively. "Gone" is punked-up hardcore with just enough melody seeping through the cracks, and boasts some great production values, while "November 94" is an ear-burning rock 'n' core (or is it hard 'n' roll?) anthem, with vocals varying from scream, to guttural growl to sweet emo singing at the close. Songs by Few Left Standing and Underoath, also poached from Takehold, are less thrilling propositions, both metalcore offerings that are confidently served but blandly flavored. Soul Embraced fair much better with their low-end death/metalcore, clearly demonstrating the talent borrowed from sister band Living Sacrifice, who also have a track featured, the dramatic "Bloodwork."

Other old favorites Project 86 and Zao are featured, with previously unheard tracks hung like worms on a hook over hungry Solid State completists. The chorus of "Spy Hunter" (a taster demo from Project 86's upcoming album) is catchy, but the song as a whole shows little stylistic progress beyond that found on the excellent Drawing Black Lines. Hopefully the finished album will display greater diversity. Zao's "The Icarus Complex" is characteristically excellent, if a little muddy sounding.

Still Breathing's track, "Sweet Wound Sour" is a stylistic counterpart to Zao, although it lacks the dynamic structure that typifies the best of Zao, sounding somewhat sloppy. Its real attraction is the novelty of the female lead singer's deep, corrosive roar (which is much more convincing than those of either Blindside or Eso-Charis, also featured here, and both with hysterical and/or hoarse vocalists). The album is still to come though, so passing wholesale judgement on the band is probably premature.

At the higher end of the vocal spectrum is the reborn Norma Jean (Luti-Kriss was a terrible name) with the thick screamo-core of "Light Blue Collar," one of the highlights from the solid "Throwing Myself." Stretch Arm Strong also score a winner with "For the Record," with their blend of screaming, melody and razor-edged breakdowns, although A Revolution Transmission has much better songs. Stylistically, the only sore thumb is Embodyment, whose song boasts a reasonable melody that is ruined by an utterly passionless and pedestrian delivery. Competently written, poorly executed.

Despite its qualitative peaks and plummets, this sampler is still a value for money one-hour showcase of some fine hardcore and metal bands. If you're unfamiliar with the Solid State roster, pick it up.

Shelby Foster 4/14/2002


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