In metal circles, there’s been a buzz the size of a giant beehive surrounding this album, the second major label release from Soil. Previous album Scars was a slow-burner in the popularity stakes, and I must confess I was a late convert, but as opening salvos go, the brace of Breaking Me Down and cult hit Halo take some beating.
And so to Redefine. Whether they meant the album title as a statement of intent or not, it’s a tall order for a band to re-interpret a genre, let alone one who wears its influences on its collective sleeve as openly and proudly as Soil. In other words, listeners looking for some avant garde heavy rock trailblazing should steer clear. If it’s mighty fine riffs, grooves and songs you’re after, on the other hand, then bed yourself down.
Opener Pride is a distant cousin of Breaking Me Down, a drum-heavy, adrenalised metal ‘n’ roll affair that ploughs the way for the remaining 35 minutes. The subsequent title track is the album’s zenith, and serves as a precis of the album – truly stonking guitar riffs that must have been created with the moshpit in mind, but a surprisingly melodic chorus that has been devised for rock radio instead. You’ll be singing it for days. Whilst pogoing and shaking your hair, that is.
Soil’s strategy of going for the throat with the guitars then unexpectedly releasing their grip through a commercially savvy chorus works magically for the most part, as heard in Cross My Heart’s robotic neo-industrial flavour and the less ram-raiding Suffering, for example.
However, from time to time things become unstuck. Remember, Deny Me and Something Real, while being far from bad, do nonetheless pass by a tad too anonymously for a band of this talent.
Thankfully, the album closes on a high with the absolutely stomping Love Hate Game, and the suitably eerie Obsession, which boasts a cataclysmic finale that makes a wonderfully refreshing change from the habit of metal bands to end their albums with a superfluous “softer” number.
So, Redefine is not quite the classic we’d hoped for, but it’s mightily impressive all the same and head and shoulders above much of what’s out there, metal or not. If you haven’t discovered Soil yet, it’s time you unearthed these little gems.