Written by: PP on 29/12/2013 22:27:45

For their sixth album "Whole", SOiL have reunited with original vocalist Ryan McCombs, who fronted the band between 1997 and 2004 before joining Drowning Pool to record a few albums as their new vocalist. While he has been gone, SOiL have taken a softer and far more mainstream approach to their songwriting than was the case during their nu-metal success albums "Scars" and "Redefine" in 2001 and 2004, respectively, with comparisons being drawn to the likes of Nickelback and Default rather than the crunchy, pseudo-heavy nu-metal of Spineshank or even Stone Sour whom SOiL were often compared to in their early days. But the return of McCombs marks also a slight change of direction for the band, perhaps a conscious decision to engage their core fan base that has been longing for heavier material ever since "True Self" saw the band go big time mainstream rock.

Basically, "Whole" sees the band balance their nu-metal origins against their mainstream hard rock latter days against each other, and it works surprisingly well. With McCombs we have a conventional nu-metal vocalist who isn't afraid to strain his vocal chords and sing in that classic style as popularized by Disturbed's David Draiman, so the switchover into playing heavier riffs is rather simple for the band. At the same time, the rest of the band has clearly not been willing to ignore their work in the last eight years entirely, meaning you also have tracks like "The Hate Song", an annoyingly catchy track that has awful, almost Nickelback bad lyricism: "You are so beautiful / So I wrote you this lovely little hate song / Our love is so true / I wrote this love song to let you know I hate you". In fact, it sounds very much like a Nickelback song only played with slightly heavier tuning, so it's catchy like the plague while also being incredibly formulaic in its nature.

Still, there are other songs on the record that sound like a perfect fit for a release in circa 2001-2002 heavy music scene, i.e. straight up nu-metal played in the brazenly pompous manner that those big hooks and anthems always tend to be delivered with. While those are obviously no longer in anywhere near in the same capacity as back then, they're still a lot more tolerable than the Nickelback style mainstream rock that does rear its ugly head on a few occasions during the record. That said, the variety between the two styles keeps this fresh, and there's no denying that these are fairly catchy songs. I just feel like the train for nu-metal has left the station so long ago that I find it difficult to see the relevance with "Whole", even if it is a much better effort than the past two SOiL albums have been.

Download: The Hate Song, Ugly
For the fans of: Nickelback, Sevendust, Default, Shinedown, Spineshank, Stone Sour, Drowning Pool
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Release date 16.08.2013
Pavement Entertainment

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