S O i L

Released: September 11, 2001 *
Record label: BMG/J Records
Genre: Heavy Metal

Scars is Soil's first major length album, and is a very impressive debut. The band has incorporated various styles of rock and metal (mostly heavy metal, anthemic rock/stadium rock and nu-metal) and have crafted a sound with all of the energy, versatility and down right shit-kicking attitude you would expect from a good modern rock band. And while they hasn't had as much success as you may expect (in the UK, anyway), they should be able to reach unforseeable heights in the future..

Generally, most of the songs on this album focus on pure heavy music. While there are quieter songs (e.g. Need To Feel, Unreal), the more frantic and up tempo ones (Breaking Me Down, Halo) are the stand out tracks. There hasn't been an album as of late that has literally made me punch a wall repeatedly while listening to it (namely Halo was the track), and there probably won't be for a while.

And while this may sound inviting to some people, be warned: there are a couple of tracks (Unreal, for instance) that maybe a tad too nu-metal for your tastes. So if you like your metal loud, abrasive and occasionally depressing, buy this album. If you are not sure, then the best thing to do is either borrow a copy of the CD and listen to it, or pop over to cdnow.com and listen to some small snippets from each song.

  1. Breaking Me Down
    The opening track is one hell of an opening. The starting riff gives you no time to breathe, letting it all go in one big wallop. A lot of kicking, screaming and loud and screechy lyrics assault your senses in a way that can't be described.
  2. Halo
    And the energy doesn't leaves during the transition into the album's second track, Halo, which also happens to be the best one. It starts with a pounding drum beat, leaving lead vocalist Ryan McCombs' screaming voice and Shaun Glass and Adam Zedel's guitar work to take over from there. The twisted lyrics only add to the sheer frantic nature of the song ("I will stone you, stone you / My little halo"). The best way to experience this song is with the video really, so try and dig it up somewhere.
  3. Need To Feel
    This song uses more of an anthemic tune and solos then down-tuned riffs and screaching. It's a suprisingly slow song, and while not as insane as the previous two tracks, still manages to flow with the rest of the album very neatly.
  4. Wide Open
    Right back into heavy metal territory, wide open is one of the heaviest songs on the album. The vocals are different to the other heavy tracks on the album as Ryan's voice is more melodic during the verses, and the screaming is very brief.
  5. Understanding Me
    A little more up tempo than Wide Open, but almost as heavy. This song is one of the better ones on the album, with some brilliant riffs and pounding drums. The chorus and verses blend very seamlessly, which is used to great effect.
  6. My Own
    Now grazing into nu-metal, the lyrics are very "woe-is-me" and the song is quite sub-standard anyway. The chorus is a mess, and while the instrumentals are nice, Ryan's vocals are not up to standard with the rest of the songs.
  7. Unreal
    Definately the most nu-metalish and consumer friendly song on the album. It's actually very good, believe it or not. The guitars churn out some nice stuff, and Ryan's vocals make it even better. Both come together into one hell of a rocking chorus. It may be a bit too friendly for some people's tastes, however.
  8. Inside
    This is a good example of how Soil combine stadium rock with heavy metal. The chorus simply soars head over heels of the rest of the song, and some trademark shouting and screaming help top it off. Quite slow, but still head banging good fun. And the bit in the middle of the thrid verse ("Come on!") is unforgetable.
  9. Two Skins
    Uh....yeah. This is a bad song. Nothing really works, and Ryan's vocal job is just appaling. Really, he screams and shouts too much on this song. It really is just recycled metal hogwash. Avoid like the plague.
  10. The One
    Starts out quite slow, but suddenly the drums kick in and introduce some more up beat anthemic riffs and melodic lyrics. A little more radio-friendly than usual, but still quite good.
  11. New Faith
    Bass and Drums introduce this song with a fast beat, while the guitars start churning after a bit. Muted guitars accompany Ryan's voice, which is a tad rubbish by the way. But the epic chorus saves this one from rock hell, so all is forgiven.
  12. Why
    Meh. This is quite good, but reminds me of Static-X and Rammstein a bit too much. Loses some of Soil's unique feel, which is quite a disspointment.
  13. Black 7
    This is good stuff, as well as a great way to end the album. It starts off kind of like Tool's Lateralus, but kicks in with some good old fashioned heavyness. A lot slower than other Soil songs, with what sounds like real emotion from Ryan's voice. It sounds a lot more epic as well, but not in an anthemic way (more like, funnily enough, Tool, except less technical and a lot shorter). Just when you think it ends, it kicks back in unexpectedly for a minute or so. Fade out. End. Worship. Repeat.

Final thoughts? Really, if you enjoy metal and hard rock in it's many different forms, you should invest in this album. It isn't very original, emotic, nor is it going to change the face of music forever. But it's a damn fine example of artistic ability. KILL for it, if you have to. Just get it.

* That must have been a bit of a heavy blow to the band.

Produced by Johnny K
Written and Performed by Soil

Soil are:
Ryan McCombs: Vocals
Shaun Glass: Guitar
Adam Zendel: Guitars and Backing Vocals
Tim King: Bass
Tom Schofield: Drums