Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Soulstorm - Soulstorm (1991)

Similar to Rumble Militia, Mottek or Death in Action, Soulstorm is another example of a bunch of German hardcore guys taking on the thrash genre that had become so popular by this point, but with one major difference: instead of risking the alienation of their punk and hardcore fans by using the same moniker, they instead created a new project to satisfy their impulses. Most of Soulstorm was involved with Inferno, a band that was reportedly pretty big on the European hardcore underground, but one that I've frankly never heard of. At any rate, the album is a mixed bag, for while the band does a good job at performing original thrash, and not entirely abandoning the crossover elements, the music is just not very memorable.

A good comparison is the Crumbsuckers, who are yet another example of an extreme music chameleon, mostly due to Howie's similar, grating vocal styles and the intricacy of the guitars. Bassist Zong is all over the place on this album, performing oddly happy lines beneath tracks like "Undignified" or "Visionary" that are otherwise a crop of sped up hardcore riffs with a little more melody and muted frenzy than one is accustomed to. But the band is also pretty experimental, with "Bad Boy" taking on an almost spaced out, jazzy rock presence, and "An Allegiance to the Sea" a folksy sea shanty with clean guitars and some shaky, punkish vocals. "Something About Your Fear" and "My Freedom" also take a turn for the unexpected. Unfortunately, as diverse as the band attempt to come off here, it really just works best when they get angry, like the hardcore/thrash mix of "(He Must Be) Sick in His Mind" or "What Is Wisdom?".

Soulstorm is the very definition of obscurity, but alas, despite the band's quirky aesthetics, this is ultimately a fantastic album cover gone to waste. Though skilled musicians, the band's constant jerking and popping never really settles into anything of note, anything to hold on to once the baffling sensation of what you're hearing disappears. I'll give them props for trying such an elaborate and original, lighter take on the thrash genre, and not shedding all of their roots in the process, but apart from its quizzical nature, there is little to recommend. For a somewhat similar effort done proper, I'd refer you to B.O.M.B. (Beast On My Back), the sophomore outing from New York's Crumbsuckers, a progressive hardcore/thrash album well worth hunting down.

Verdict: Indifference [5/10]

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