Album Review: Solitary – XXV: Live at Bloodstock

Where were you on 11th August 2019? The correct answer should of course be in the Sophie Lancaster tent at Bloodstock Open Air Festival. If you weren’t, you missed 30 minutes of classic UK thrash from the Preston legends Solitary, whose sole intention on that day was to ensure the culmination of 25 years of blood, sweat and thrash was one glorious celebration of moshing, headbanging and circle pits.

Formed in 1994 by lead singer and rhythm guitarist Rich Harrington, Solitary’s line-up has varied throughout the years, but with drummer Roy Miller celebrating 20 years with the band and lead guitarist Andy Mellor not far short of that milestone, it’s been a relatively stable outfit for most of their career. Completed by returning bassist Gareth Harrop, the 2019 line-up remains in place today and was responsible for the solid 2020 release The Truth Behind the Lies.

This isn’t the first live album Solitary have released. That honour goes to 2014’s I Promise to Thrash Forever. What XXV Live at Bloodstock does present is the intensity of a band who have continued to ply their trade with scant regard for fashion, fads, or imagery. Solitary play thrash metal with roots firmly located in the 1980s, and they don’t care what anyone thinks.

It’s a decent recording and captures the excellent response the band received on the day. From the instrumental opening “Blackened Skies”, the cheers of the crowd as the band enter the stage and the raging violence of opener “Trigger Point Atrocity”, through to set closer “Requiem”, this is Solitary in fully engaged thrash mode. It’s not clever, it’s not pretty in any shape or form, but if you are a member of the UK thrash movement, then it’s a beautiful record of a career highlight for a vastly underrated band.

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There’s no time to catch your breath, as Solitary gallop through favourites like “Keep Your Enemies Closer”, “The Edge of Violence” and the relentlessly fast paced “Architects of Shame”. The reception is heart-warming, and from memory, the pits were ferocious. It certainly produces recollections of a day when the challenging weather made it profitable to be inside the tent for much of the time. Solitary can certainly thrash with the best, and Mellor’s searing guitar solo on “Keep Your Enemies Closer” is one of many highlights here. The cheers at the end of set closer “Requiem” are just reward for what was a stellar show.

As well as the live set, this package includes three remixed songs that featured on the 2019 EP XXV. The DVD that accompanies this package is crammed full of extra goodies and should be well worth the investment. As both a memento of a memorable set and as a celebration of an amazing milestone, this release is one that any self-respecting thrash fan needs to get involved with.

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XXV: Live at Bloodstock is out on 22nd April

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