Sound — 7
Alternative rock group Smile Empty Soul have been performing their guitar-driven style of music since the late 1990's. In their earlier years the band drew upon the then-mainstream grunge genre for inspiration, which also served as a foundation for what would become the group's signature style. When Smile Empty Soul's self-titled debut studio album found its way onto the market and onto the airwaves in 2005, it was a strong commercial success. Three successful singles were spawned from it, including "Bottom of a Bottle" and "Nowhere Kids," which are now considered to be quintessential songs for the group. The band's debut album quickly was certified Gold in the United States, and for newcomers it showed some serious promise for this up-and-coming band from Santa Clarita. Later that same year, Smile Empty Soul would issue their second studio album, "Anxiety," which again was met with moderate success. Despite being originally scrapped by the record label, the members of Smile Empty Soul eventually decided to release it independently. In the end, this move was a successful one, as the album's lead single "Don't Need You" climbed the Billboard Mainstream Rock Charts. Even though Smile Empty Soul had been receiving praise from critics and noticeable hits commercially, the group would hit a rough spot in 2006 with the release of their third album. "Vultures" barely managed to make any sort of impact on the charts, and soon after the group mutually separated from rhythm guitarist Mike Booth. This split would be a significant factor in Smile Empty Soul's image, as the band has now decided to remain a three-piece band. Since this lineup change, Smile Empty Soul has risen in popularity and added a number of additional studio albums into their catalog. The band has not stayed out of the world's public eye, and just released a new album last year. But the group has their songwriting chemistry in full gear, and have just recently issued their sixth studio album. The new record, titled "Chemicals," is filled to the brim with what fans would now consider classic Smile Empty Soul elements and crunching distortion. The album explodes with the guitar driven "False Alarm," which is jam packed with a stress inducing rhythm section and emotion fueled lead vocals. You do not necessarily need to be a fan of Smile Empty Soul to enjoy this new track; the sheer intensity should be enough to appeal to any grunge or heavy metal follower.
Lyrics — 6
Lead vocalist Sean Danielsen gives a noteworthy performance throughout the entire new release. Remaining true to the majority of mainstream alternative metal groups, Sean sticks to his normal singing voice for most of the new tracks. I must admit that when you have a singer who is singing in the same key and tone as an indie rock artist, and is backed by gut crunching instrumental work, it makes for an awkward listening experience. His singing doesn't exactly compliment the musical side of the album, and this contrast does occasionally get in the may of a rocking listening experience.
Overall Impression — 7
Smile Empty Soul delivers a formidable performance with their sixth studio album, "Chemicals." Despite a contrasting lead vocal performance, the album still has some memorable moments and is one that any established fan will be able to easily appreciate.