Soulsplitter – Salutogenesis
If someone had told me at the beginning of this year that come October four of my absolute favourite albums of the year would be debut albums, I would have been very sceptical to say the least, as there were new albums from a couple of my all-time favourite bands like Leprous, Opeth and Soen expected to be released as well. Fast forward nine and a half months – and I can’t stop marvelling at the unexpected beauty and talent four debut albums have blessed me with. After Soledad, Ihlo and The Resonance Project, it is the German music and art collective Soulsplitter with their stunning first offering “Salutogenesis” completing that quartet in breathtaking fashion.
A true concept album, “Salutogenesis” takes us on a wondrous, thought-provoking journey throughout its runtime of just about one hour. Covering a wide array of styles, multiple singers and a lot of guest instrumentalists, drawing influence from “50 years of progressive music” (and beyond), as guitarist Simon Kramer stated in the interview we had the pleasure of doing for The Progcast at the prestigious Euroblast Festival, it certainly is an eclectic affair.
Rarely was an introductory string quartet arrangement (courtesy of drummer Fenix Gayed, played by Nuvola Quartet) as enticing as ‘The Prophecy’, leaving us completely blind as to what musical whirlwind the following seven songs have in store for us. ‘The Transition’ takes its time to develop, laying out musical themes dominated by Daniel Gräupner’s piano and Hammond organ before Ophelia Sullivan (Ecstasphere) is leaving a strong first mark in the vocal department, doubled by Fenix’s Mellotron to stunning effect. A Theremin(!) solo by guest artist Trautonia Capra marks the descent into darker territory. Felix Jacob’s bass groove is enhanced through guest percussions by Tayfun Ates and Stroppo, the narrator from ‘The Prophecy’ returns with harrowing growls (“Stop resisting! Trust your instincts!”) and that first of five songs around the ten-minute mark comes to an end on a heavy piano-driven note.
First single ‘The Moloch’, also clocking in just shy of double digits, was the song that caught my attention. Through a simple facebook ad. Go figure. Original Soulsplitter vocalist Manou Wolfsgruber excels in both the growly verses as well as the melancholic melodic chorus. And everything in between. That main verse riff seems to be somewhat reminiscent of Haken’s ‘Architect’, but with Manou’s growls on top, it oozes a distinct Death vibe. With an excellent guitar solo in the middle, ‘The Moloch’ is oscillating between beautiful melodies and calculated dissonance. As a perfect visual accompaniment, the handpainted video is a mandatory watch.
Soulsplitter – The Moloch (click here if the video doesn’t play)
Out of all six (phenomenal) lead singers on “Salutogenesis”, LoOf’s emotive performance on ‘The Maze’ is easily my favorite. Slowly increasing the intensity, the atmosphere lures one in, into the maze. More hints of Haken are fast forgotten with lots of piano, a jazzy synth solo and another guitar solo. Daniel’s piano leads us through ‘The Sunset’ interlude, towards the almost 12 minutes instrumental that is ‘The Dream’. Starting off with a strong Opeth vibe, morphing through Kansas territories thanks to Nathan Kirzon’s solo violin, the piano is the only instrument of the band that wilfully resists the massive unexpected djent onslaught. As unexpected as the stunning fusion guitar solo that concludes ‘The Dream’. What might sound like randomly jumbled parts within the same song, actually flows elegantly and coherently. So does the whole record.
Soulsplitter – The Maze (click here if the video doesn’t play)
The only short song that is not an intro or interlude, ‘The Eye of the Cyclone’ brings back the Nuvola Quartet and singer LoOf, this time in a heartfelt duet with Vic Anselmo (known for her collaboration with Antimatter and solo work). Finally, ‘The Sacrifice’ proves to be a worthy finale to this rollercoaster ride of emotions, adding Symphony X, Amaseffer and an epic last-minute Neal Morse to the eclectic list of possible comparisons that are popping up in my brain. Introducing yet another excellent singer with Marian Feistritzer, a very cool bass solo and vast orchestrations courtesy of the German Pops Orchestra, it is the final nail in the coffin so to speak and I can’t help but award this ambitious work of art with the highest rating. One can only guess what these talented artists have in store for us in the years to come, but if “Salutogenesis” is any indication of their creative talent and imaginative power, we might be in for another massive treat. But for now, all we can do is marvel at the sheer awesomeness of “Salutogenesis” and hope they will add more live dates to the already confirmed ones at the beginning of 2020.
If you want to know more about the lyrical concept, be sure to check out our interview with Fenix and Simon in Episode 021 of The Progcast right here.
- The Prophecy
- The Transition
- The Moloch
- The Maze
- The Sunset
- The Dream
- The Eye of the Cyclone
- The Sacrifice