Pilgrim's Descent: A review of Solace's "Nagari" by Maduro First impressions are paramount. I received my copy of the long awaited Solace album today in the mail and once I had some free time in a dark room replaying the release for the third time in a row I had to capture this. Nagari is the most dark, complex, and complete album that Solace has released to date. It is personal and perhaps introspective through it's cryptic allusions - it is a journey and it seems to capture one's purgatory through diverse soundscapes. This may very well be the soundtrack of one's personal descent and struggle with personal conceptions of that which is beyond us all, one's personal struggle with religion. This is a serious album, and wonderfully beautiful. Some Solace fans may be taken back by the dark nature of this release - but this is the sound of Solace - the sum of who he is and where he has come from. Make no mistake, this release could stand up as the tightest release of this genre ever and it could very well be the soundtrack to Dante's Inferno. Here is one pilgrim's observations. The album opens with "Judgmental Wound" - an epic introduction that sets the stage, as a dark velvety curtain falls. At this point, anyone is aware that this is not a typical Solace album, this is epic. "Nagari" hits you in the stomach with it's hard opening vocals and sweeping synths, "Jira" continues the momentum and the album already turns darker. "Coveting Bes" sounds very grand and cinematic - like a struggle has ensued. "Pharisee's Prayer" is a highly technical piece with space and is a song that anchors the album and presents the beginning of a transformation at the center of the disc. "Bane of Desire" is a deeply personal track and carries the momentum with powerful fillers and darker synths, played at lower octaves to seductive vocals. "Sorrow & Veil" is when the album changes. It is a transformation through the center of this disc - like a serpents hiss, tracks 7-9 all begin with a slithering and slippery letter S in their song titles as if you have been bitten and the venom is taking hold. The center tracks are heavy with opiate South Asian sounds of paralysis and dark wonder. We're not supposed to move, we have been cornered, and perhaps bitten. This is where the album takes a darker, slightly more abstract turn. The sound become more gritty, the drums become more engaging, the programming is air tight. "Strange Flesh" is the track with the deepest bass range that pulls you into the coldest chamber. Strange Flesh is the sound of black magic at work. This is clearly a descent and "Heretic" gives you the impression you are here to stay for awhile - it's complex and shifting. "Naga" is another anchor track that leads into a more painful place - it is a dirge. "Death in Sin" starts the last three tracks where the drums are more distorted and filters abound. These are not supposed to be clean sounds. "Condemnation" is haunting and the most candid track on the album. The stones have been cast and you are watching this all unfold. The last half of the disc doesn't present resolution to the pain, but presents one's attempt to make amends with personal demons. The rattling percussive sound is the death grip of the serpent's tail. Pain abounds and it remains. "End of Religion" is the ultimate closing song. It is the existential end of this soundtrack. The title says everything. For me the songs say everything and the titles of the song corroborates the mood one feels. Often times song titles don't always reflect the tone of the song - in this release, there is no question - consistency abounds. Nagari is very heavy with vocals, sweeping synths, and less space to breath than previous Solace releases. Nagari embraces a darker aesthetic many try to hide from, yet for all of it's personal introspective and haunting sounds, this is the most elaborate album by Solace to date - and this Pilgrim's favorite by him. Most artists take many years to put out a personal record at the apex of their career that shows the audience who the artist truly is on some level, not just their talent - this is such a record. It is an epic work, and it's Fall-Harvest release time compliments the entire package - we are husks and we struggle for resolution, for hope.