Saturday, 7 September 2013

Soil "Whole"

Alternative metal band Soil never did break out in to rock stardom. Likely because there was never much differentiating them from fellow contemporaries that were on a slow rise at the time such as Puddle of Mudd, Seether and Drowning Pool. Albeit, all three of these mentioned bands are mainly just known for just one song each; with a slight exception going to Seether.

Soil’s journey started from the bottom, just like every other band. I’m not going to get too much in to their history, but it wasn’t until their second full length album, and major label debut Scars that the band seemed to show some minor promise. Their song Halo turned out to be just like Bodies for Drowning Pool, just slightly less memorable. But to give Drowning Pool credit, it’s hard to say where they’d have gone had their original singer Dave Williams not passed away right after hitting success.

The difference Halo had from songs like Bodies or Puddle of Mudd’s Blurry is that of the people who know the latter two songs, a lot don’t even know the name of the bands who perform them, let alone anything else those bands ever did. The fans that Halo and the Scars album in general that were generated did a pretty good job at staying with the band throughout Soil's rather underground career.

After releasing one more album, Redefine, lead vocalist Ryan McCombs decided to leave the band and take a hiatus from music in general, only to get replaced by vocalist A.J. Cavalier playing with the rest of the bands original members (drummer Tom Schofield and one of the bands two guitarists, Shaun Glass, would eventually also leave some years later). After deciding he wanted to get back in to the music business, Ryan, realizing it was too late to rejoin his former band instead became the new lead singer for, surprise surprise, Drowning Pool, after the departure of Dave Williams’ replacement Jason Jones.

Both Soil and Drowning Pool would release two albums with their then current singers before Ryan’s 2011 reunion with Soil. I’m not aware if Ryan left Drowning Pool to return to Soil, or if he was let go in general, but Soil was given new life with the opportunity to return to the roots that got them some attention ten years earlier. In August, Soil released Whole, their first new album since 2009’s Picture Perfect and their first with their original singer since 2004’s Redefine.

The album starts off with Loaded Gun, showing immediately that the band wanted to return to their familiar style of alternative metal, showing little difference in their technique and all around motive, despite maybe some slight southern metal influences added to their sound. The song features Ryan’s familiar ballsy and raspy yet relatively clean voice singing aggressively over top of highly distorted guitars and drums.

The album continues to belt out less than happy songs like The Hate Song, which lyrically I personally quite like, and Ugly, adding more insult to some protagonist in the bands life that they don’t seem to like.

Way Gone changes the albums sound a bit. Still as angry as the previous three songs, it features a more prominent slow vibe during its verses before unleashing a full, balls out, angry as ever chorus.

The album steps away from its slow gloomy sound momentarily on the fast paced Psychopath. This thrashing song never lets up for a second. It’s that song on the album for the crowd to mosh to when the band inevitably performs it live, as any metal band seemingly has to do to please a crowd. The next closest thing this album has to a track as intense as Psychopath is my personal favourite track, Amalgamation, which is not as fast, though it is the second fastest paced song on the album. It doesn’t sound like it was made for the sole purpose of moshing to, but knowing metal fans, they’ll find a way.

Shine On brings the album back to its slow, heavy alternative metal sound, followed by Wake Up; a song that sounds like an early 2000’s alternative/”nu” metal song with its easy to remember angry lyrics and its palm muted guitars, giving a crowd something to jump to. My Time is another track that holds no true spotlight on the album compared to other songs.

The album ends with One Love, a slow and dark track which puts the album in to perspective, summing it up rather nicely. Its verses, much like Way Gone, are played in a dark ballad form, only to pick up the distortion for the chorus. Lyrically it slightly lacks a punch, but it is easy to sing along to. Unlike Way Gone, this song is slower, and remains rather consistently slower until its bridge, when the song just takes a complete turn and picks up its intensity to something comparable to that of Amalgamation, further summing the album up rather nicely.

The problem with the album is that it hardly differs from any of the bands other previously mentioned contemporaries. The sound of the album stays consistent to a type of metal that was never really the most popular style of metal music to begin with. Had the album has more songs on it like Psychopath, Amalgamation or even One Love, then I’d say this album is more significant than it actually is. However, given what we are provided with, the album is really good. I would have to call this the best album Soil has ever released, but should they release another album, I’d hope they change things up slightly more than they already have.


Little Liar” –­ Considering this albums abundance of slow paced heavy tracks, it would be fitting to pick one of them as the highlight. Among the many slower paced songs on the album, I find that Little Liar stands out above the rest. Ryan changes his singing style between the verses, pre-chorus and chorus very well, and the harmonized vocals heard on the chorus show a terrific sense of musicality that isn’t heard at many points on the album, giving the listener a bit of a welcome change.


 8(Out of 10)

Track List:

Loaded Gun  
The Hate Song  
Way Gone
Shine On  
Wake Up
My Time  
Little Liar  
One Love

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