Chicago’s Soil are back with their fifth full length, appropriately titled Picture Perfect. After original vocalist Ryan McCombs departed, he was replaced by A.J. Cavalier on 2006’s True Self. Soil then lost original guitarist Shaun Glass, who left to form his own band Dirge Within. Now Soil are back as a slick refined four piece. But, will those key losses be too much for them to recover?
Picture Perfect opens with a perfect one-two punch with “Tear It Down” and “The Lesser Man.” “Tear It Down” crams titanic guitar chunk directly down your throat, while Cavalier adds the perfect balance of heavy and melodic vocals. It’s a great anthem song for fans to sing along with at a show. “The Lesser Man” slows things down a bit taking a much more rock oriented approach with a southern twist. One thing I noticed is that Cavalier has grown tremendously from True Self. He reminds me a lot of Stephen Richards (Taproot), with a twist of Ian Astbury (The Cult) on steroids.
The title track “Picture Perfect” and “Surrounded” are songs that Soil would have never been able to pull off in the past. Musically, “Picture Perfect” takes Soil in a completely different direction with an almost Korn-like vibe that quickly turns into this huge rocking chorus. I can hear this song dominating radio waves across this nation. “Surrounded” sees Soil blow the dust off the old acoustics and still lay it down. Even though the song is more of a ballad, it’s very solid from beginning to end. I can’t stress how much Cavalier’s voice has grown over the past few years.
I will say that there are quite a bit of slower, more ballad-driven rock songs on this cd than in previous efforts. Songs like “Anymore,” “Too Far Away” and “Last Wish” might be a departure for the band, but definitely infectious to say the least.
Soil return to form with songs like “Every Moment” and “Temptation.” The hard rockin’ riffing of Adam Zadel is backed up with the bottomed out bass and drums licks. Cavalier lends killer falsetto vocals to the chorus of “Every Moment,” which will get stuck in your skull for days. “Temptation” starts off with sick and twisted sounds of backwards voices that quickly turn into big stomping grooves that kick you square in the nuts. Once again, the choruses are perfectly set up for fan interaction with an almost answer-call style. There are so many bounces and grooves in this song it’s completely ridiculous.
Although some hardcore Soil fans might find this album hard to digest at first, just give it time. Soil have proven they haven’t missed a step with the loss of two “signature” members. With Picture Perfect, Soil Redefine their sound, show that the Scars have healed, and finally find their True Self.