South African band Solvia is a William Tempest Bishop (aka Big Willy) solo project. Bishop has been a consistent member of the South African music scene for over 2 decades kicking off his career with LEEK & the Bouncing Uptones when he was just 17.
Bishop went on to be well-known as a performer with Ska Punk band FUZIGISH for his trombone playing role and backing vocals in 1997. He is also known for his bass guitar role with Architecture of Aggression and since 2015.
All leading to the creation of his début album Divinorum. A product of 7 years of hard work spent writing, recording, mixing, mastering and evaluating this masterpiece. With Bishop commitment to ensuring quality, inspired by Heavy Metal pioneers like Tool and Black Sabbath.
There aren’t many things that keep you interested in an album better than an opening track that creates a wonderful impression and opening track “My only Prayer ” justifies that. The song is self-examining, empathetic and beautifully sang. It begins with a Tool esque progressive sound that continues all through the song especially with its guitar riffs.
Big Willy has this to say about Judas the second song from the album; “We are far too willing to cut people off because they have wronged us. Betrayal, in all its guises, is part of being human.” It’s perfectly fitting with the vibe and lyrics of the song.
The album then goes up a notch with third track “Nixon’s Nightmare” which focuses on the war on drugs with a subtle dig at the politics that surrounds it. It has me in awe especially as bits of the song’s intro and midway through the song feature each feature a “Richard Nixon” line that briefly reminds me of Thrash Metal icon “Dave Mustaine” of Megadeth.
Other Tracks like Deus Infinitus, Green Eyes, and Bilderberg Hustle discuss serious topics like Death, God, corruption, greed, and addiction.
“We need to feel all of this pain from both sides, No one is clean we have all sold lies.” (Judas)
“Incarceration given for possession is a sin against common sense; you would send to jail a man for wronging nobody. You are out your minds. You’re fucking out your minds” (Nixon’s Nightmare)
There’s no trophy worth all this pain, Yet you go back again and again. There’s still time for you to let go. (Green Eyes)
The album was produced by a very talented, insightful, experienced group and lyrics like these are one of the many things that display this. Here below is a link to the album on Bandcamp.
The Lyricism and production are top-notch. William Bishop definitely knows what he’s doing and where he plans to go with each song. And like fine wine, the delay in processing and production of the album only added to its perfection process.
The album is definitely one of the best progressive metal albums I’ve listened to all year. It took me a long time to write a review because I wanted to pick all the right words to appreciate it and I’m still struggling to pour that out like I would have wanted.
The album leaves me struggling to find faults and I’m not pointing out any. I’d only hope to see the band live someday and wait to see more albums from Solvia because this is a magnificent début.