Sound — 8
SOiL original formed in 1997 as a side project for members of two separate death metal bands. Over time SOiL became their main project, eventually leading to each member leaving their other bands. A far stride from their death metal roots, their sound could be described as anything from hard rock to alternative metal. Ryan McCombs left the band in 2004 after the release of 3 EPs and 3 LPs, and went on to join Drowning Pool until his return to the band in 2011. In the interim the band released 2 LPs with A.J. Cavalier on vocals. A.J. Cavalier left the band in 2010, along with Tom Schofield (the founding drummer of the band). During a "reunion" tour to promote the 10th anniversary of their album, "Scars," they were joined on stage by Ryan McCombs which led to a reconciliation with the vocalist who rejoined the band. As of today, the band is down to three founding members: Ryan McCombs (vocals), Adam Zadel (guitar, backing vocals), and Tim King (bass, backing vocals). They are joined on tour by Mitch Gabel to provide drums for their live performance. Jon Wysocki (formerly of Staind) has also filled in on drums during some recent live performances, as well.
The album "Whole" has 11 tracks with an approximate runtime of 37 minutes, which means the average track length is just over 3 minutes. The lead single from the album is the track "Shine On," with a music video available on YouTube for the track, as well. The album opens up with the track "Loaded Gun" which makes up for the standard chugging and gallops with interesting guitar melodies and a lot of groove. "The Hate Song" is one of my favorite songs on the album for several reasons the little guitar riff in the pre-chorus, the bass roaring just slightly to the back of the mix and the sarcastic lyrics. The track "Way Gone" depends way more on melody than probably any other song on the album, as well as doing some interesting stuff with the vocals. "Shine On" is the lead single from the album, and I almost never agree with the song picked by a band to be the single, but "Shine On" wasn't a horrible choice. There is a lot of groove to it, and it is definitely something you can sing along to and punch the air to. "Wake Up" starts with a really dramatic pick scrape which actually was kind of cool in a nostalgic way, as that was a really popular mechanism in certain metal songs "back in the day." The riffs, solo and groove of the song make up for any residual "cheesiness" you get from the pick scrape. "Amalgamation" definitely has my favorite riff from the album, as well as being the most successful track in creating a whole surrounding "vibe." Okay, the song "My Time" seriously reminds me of that song about the singer's milkshake bringing all the boys to the yard, with Ryan singing "you think your best is better than mine, nobody's best is better than mine," but I still enjoyed the song even if I was smirking at it the entire time. "Little Liar" has a really bada-s intro but it kind of lost me when the riffing came in. The album closed out with the track "One Love," which is another of my favorite songs on the album. There is an acoustic intro that kind of builds into a heavy groove, and once Ryan goes into the faster vocals I was really sold on the track. Awesome track for closing out the album.
Lyrics — 8
Honestly, it is nice to hear Ryan McCombs fronting SOiL once again. Ryan McCombs has a really interesting voice, especially in the way that he can sing in a relatively "pretty" voice but can also scream like he means it. I'm not the biggest fan of Drowning Pool when he led them, and honestly I was never a huge fan of SOiL before (especially not with A.J. Cavalier on vocals) but Ryan has made me re-evaluate my whole take on SOiL. I actually enjoyed a lot of the lyrics on here because they really seemed to have taken the time to write something that is saying something and usually with a sense of humor, or at least irony. Some lyrics from "The Hate Song": "I'm a match/ you're dynamite/ an open flame to your gasoline/ my fatal flower/ my finest hour/ you're the razor blade that I need/ the half wish in my dreams/ the nightmare the likes I've never seen/ you and I/ me and you/ alive/ me and you/ you and I/ I wonder why/ you are so beautiful/ so I wrote you this lovely little hate song/ our love is so true/ I wrote you this love song to let you know I hate you." I worked these lyrics out listening to the track, so if I got anything wrong my apologies, but it does display that they took a little time with their writing and have an interesting twist to their lyrics.
Overall Impression — 8
The bottom line is this is a very solid album for what I think of as radio metal. SOiL strays from the formulaic metal that is infecting the radio just enough to sound like an actual unique entity but not so far that it would alienate their fans or new listeners. SOiL is doing a few things very right, such as actually taking time to write interesting riffs, maintaining a lot of groove in their music, and mixing the bass at the right level where it is "visible" in the mix but not dominating (most bands seem to mix the bass to one extreme or the other, but SOiL got it right), and lyrics that aren't complete trash. Also, you get solos that aren't like the ego vehicles of the guitarist, but instead actually serve the song, which was nice to hear. My favorite tracks from the album are probably "The Hate Song," "One Love" and "My Time." I didn't really dislike any of the tracks but I was disappointed a little by "Little Liar" because the intro got me expecting a slightly different type of song than what it actually was. At the end of the day, this is a very mainstream type of band and a very mainstream type of hard rock/metal album, but despite that it is still excellent.