Panic - Strength in Solitude (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Strength in Solitude (2006)

Bridge 9

Bridge 9 must know I wasn't the only one who first heard of Panic through their first post-reunion EP, the recent Reflections effort, Circles. And thus, they've issued a handy little compilation encompassing all of Panic's pre-Circles material -- 2 EPs, 1 demo, and a live version of a previously unreleased song -- entitled Strength in Solitude, and luckily it's just about as solid.

The first thing any new Panic fans like myself will notice is, straight up, how much faster the band played. Frills? Fuhgettaboutit. This is old-school Boston hardcore played at near warp speed -- not thrash fast, but still at tempos best described as "unrelenting." The Suicide File-like rock'n'roll edge of later tracks like "Rise" is quite absent, but it helps magnify the band's anger and intensity in economical bursts (Solitude clocks in at 16 tracks and just under 24 minutes).

Featured out of the gates is 2001's Dying for It, which contains one of the comp's standouts in the title track. The breakdown chant of "Kids like us / will be alone forever!" must assuredly be the climax moment of the band's live shows, while the 40-second blast "I Walk the Same Way Home Every Night" is the type of song over before you've even realized it's passed by.

Oddly enough, the followup, 2002's self-titled EP -- recorded by Dean Baltulonis at Atomic -- feels a little rawer in production, which is odd since Dying for It was recorded with Kurt Ballou, who's usually the one known for less fuller-sounding rhythm sections. In any regards, the band doesn't lose any of their intensity. "Pale" is mind-numbingly fast and well representative of a clear Negative Approach influence. "Our Choice Is Made" is the customary hardcore pride anthem, but fortunately void of groanworthy chest-beating. One annoyance occurs here, though: The last 30 seconds end of "Pale" is silence, and thus significantly disrupts the flow of the disc, which would be understandable if it was the EP's closer, but there's actually 1 last track from it to go. Oh well.

The 3 songs from Panic's demo are understandably raw in production, but obviously just as visceral as anything else on Solitude. Also, only one, "I Walk the Same Way Home Every Night," is a repeat.

The one previously unreleased track, "Think Ahead" is awfully trebly and static-filled. It doesn't seem like a horrible song, but the recording is trashy as hell and mostly ends an otherwise solid album on an iffy note.

While a bit forgettable, Strength in Solitude appropriately takes a final look at Panic's past, and now with a developing sound and a new outlook in hand, manages to officially close a nicely completive chapter that's likely an interesting read for the newer fans.

Strength in Solitude
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