Released Sept. 11, 2001, Soil’s major-label debut album, “Scars,” was a brutal, fast-paced hard-rock/metal amalgam that was hailed by many as one of the yea’s best offerings riding high off the success of the band’s single “Halo.”
The band — vocalist Ryan McCombs, guitarists Adam Zadel and Shaun Glass, bassist Tim King and drummer Tom Schofield — toured relentlessly for “Scars,” hitting the road with everyone from Ozzy Osbourne, Rob Zombie and Mudvayne to Static-X and Sevendust. Soil was also one of the featured acts on the second stage of Ozzfest.
The pressure was on to deliver a follow-up that would exceed the foundation the band had forged and, with its new album, “Redefine,” Soil takes aim and hits one right out of the park.
As King points out on the band’s home page (www.soilmusic.com), Soil took everything fans came to expect from the first album and turned it up a notch. “We were on the road for thirteen months, and we learned a lot about ourselves. … When we sat down to do the new record, we wanted to stay true to our sound. We took that energy and passion and brought it into the music.”
Kicking off with the explosive “Pride,” the band immediately shows that when it comes to rocking out on this latest offering, there’s no screwing around. The songs plays out like a faster-paced “Halo” with McCombs tearing through his intentionally-paced lyrics. The dueling guitar work sounds more frenzied this time around, with Schofield and King laying down a nice back-beat.
The beauty of Soil’s sound is that as much as the band can simply throw it down and rock out, they play tight enough to really explore the melody they create and add depth to the music’s flow. This is especially evident in a song like “Redefine” where the initial riff is reminiscent of Drowning Pool’s “Pity Me,” yet as soon as the band is able to establish the song’s groundwork, the guitarists lay down some thick, catchy riffs and the chorus sounds like something completely out of place yet exactly what you would expect. And the band is able to throw in a mellow breakdown mid-way through a song like “Redefine” — with McCombs singing “Somebody to make me feel whole again” — and gradually pick the pace back up without any of it coming off forced.
“We like songs that grab you, hook you, and don’t f*ck around, but at the same time, we love melody,” Glass states in the band’s official biography.
“Can You Heal Me” has an old Alice in Chains feel to it, from the vocals to the down-tuned guitar riffing. And the band even experiments with Middle Eastern flavor on “Deny Me.”
The album’s best track has to be the closer “Obsession.” The song unfolds like an epic starting out melodic and slow with a steady backbeat and subtle cymbal-work before exploding at the chorus. As McCombs strains out “You are my everything,” it adds that extra sense of urgency in the song. The song progresses in alternating slow and fast tempos and, just when you think it can’t get any more intense, the closing moments flourish like a Tool song with insane drumming and thunderous riffs before shuddering to a halt.
“Lyrically, these songs are our children, and they’ve all got their special places to us,” McCombs points out. “No matter what your position in life — whether you’re married or not, a dad or not, or what you do for a living — you keep having trials and tribulations, moral dilemmas, and confrontations you need to face, and whether it was on the road, or at home with my family, I’ve had my eyes opened up to a whole new realm of experiences. A lot of people have their Ã¢â‚¬ËœHalos,’ it doesn’t matter what mine was when I wrote the song.”
Overall, “Redefine” is a welcome relief as fans have been anticipating its release since “Scars” hit shelves. Given what the band delivers, two years was hardly long to wait. Simply put — a great album.