Poor, poor Soil. Emerging in late 2001, the band had the unfortunate fate of being lumped in with third-tier nu-metal acts such as Drowning Pool and Adema and could never quite break out on their own. But Soil were never quite nu-metal, and in spite of the repetitive nature of their music, had a sound all their own. With a distinct vocalist and hooky guitar-riffs, the band’s formula produced a few hits with its two major-label albums before frontman Ryan McCombs departed, only to re-emerge in the aforementioned Drowning Pool. The band regained its footing slightly with 2006’s True Self, but the album failed to hit like its predecessors did, and soon guitarist Shaun Glass departed as well.
You would think that with all they have endured over the years that the core members of Soil would have given up by now. At the very least, it’s surprising to see that they have stood by the Soil name, even after its two key members are long gone. You could chalk it up to the survivors trying to cash-in on a somewhat viable name or you could simply assume that they are too stubborn to give it a rest. Whatever it is, though, Soil’s fourth record certainly rocks and provides more than ample proof that the band are willing and prepared to stand on their own merits. Like “Scars” in its time, “Picture Perfect” isn’t so much a game changer as it is an album that holds its own against its competition.
With producer Johnny K (Disturbed, Finger Eleven) in tow, Soil (now a foursome) manage to successfully capitalize on their catchy-brand of grungy hard-rock without the help of the members who previously steered the course. The album finds frontman A.J. Cavalier coming into his own, showing more range than he did on “True Self” (witness the soul he exudes on the bluesy “Lesser Man”) while the band continue churning out simple yet effective and catchy tunes. The production is rock solid, as expected, with each of the thirteen tracks delivering enough variety to sustain an album without completely abandoning the tried and true sound of the band.
While “Picture Perfect” could be criticized for walking the beaten path, it’s hard to hate on a simple rock album that knows what it is and does its job efficiently. If there’s one thing to be said about this band, they are very good at adapting to change, and their fourth album does a good job at keeping with tradition. No, it’s not breaking any molds, but those who seek good old hard rock with no frills will appreciate what “Picture Perfect” brings to the table.