Solar - Dark Places

Year of Release: 2003
Label: Verglas
Catalog Number: VGCD026
Format: CD
Total Time: 71:56:00

After Paul Wrightson left Arena, Rob Sowden followed him up, and although many viewed Wrightson as the best Arena vocalist, Sowden has won the hearts of the fans with his powerful, yet emotional voice and has proven to be a valuable member and excellent front man of Arena. Now Rob Sowden treats us to his first solo work, with his own band, Solar, which was released in November 2003. This album shows quite a different style in music, compared to Arena. In Solar, Rob is supported by Lawrence Jarvis (bass) and Simon Bell (drums), while Sowden not only sings, but also plays guitar.

Solar gives Sowden the opportunity to show the different sides of his voice, other than he uses with Arena. The result is, if I may say, pretty impressive! The 11 tracks on the album breathe a dark, moody atmosphere. The guest musicians, amongst others John Mitchell (Arena, The Urbane) on guitar, also producer of the album, add to the sound and give it some heavy edges at times, while on the other hand it softens the music, like Luke Steele on cello in "Caving In," which gives the song a very emotional load. This is my personal favourite of the album, although I love just about every song on this album. The contrast between the soft arrangements and the, at times, heavy guitar works very well on the album. Although most songs are a bit mellow, "In A Dark Place" is a more up tempo song, with heavier guitar and a solid rhythm section to back it up. But what makes the album so damn great to listen to is Rob Sowden! His passionate vocals turn every song into something magical and this alone is enough reason to buy the album. Of course musically it is also interesting and the music is not just to support the vocals. Listen to "Mother Of Mother," with percussion by guest musician Rick Smith, the cello and soft guitar, it just makes you dream away.

Excellent album from one of the better vocalists in the progressive rock world. Personally I find this a great album to listen to in the autumn: dark, grey days, filled with rain, just staying home, looking outside, pondering and then listening to Dark Places ... then you get the feeling. But don't worry, it is not a depressing album, but it does create a bit of a dark ambiance when you play it. I love this one and can't stop playing it. If you like the last albums by Arena, or music in the vein of Radiohead, this should be a blind purchase and a must have.

Similar Bands: Radiohead, Muse

[This review originally appeared December 2003 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]

Cheap Thrill (3:49) / Psycho (5:30) / Atrophy (6:02) / In A Dark Place (3:26) / Caving In (7:52) / Mother Of Mother (8:01) / She Knows (5:24) / Odyssey (In "A" Major) (9:05) / Untouchable (7:04) / Arizona Dream (Letter To Valou) (6:56) / Twice As Bright As The Sun (8:41)

Robert Sowden - vocals and guitar
Simon Bell - drums
Lawrence Jarvis - bass


John Mitchell - guitar
Luke Steele - cello (5, 6) Rick Smith - percussion

Dark Places (2003)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: January 23rd 2005
Reviewer: Marcel Haster
Artist website:
Hits: 975
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]