posted on 7/2005 By:
It’s gotta be tough to be Soilent Green. The band has encountered an almost unfair share of adversity over the past four or five years. The multiple automotive tragedies that the New Orleans boys have suffered would be plenty enough to spell doom for most bands, but take into account how shamefully and undeservedly Soilent Green has been overshadowed by some of their more commercially viable Relapse labelmates, and well, you’ve got one pressure cooker of a situation right there. It takes indescribable quantities of personal strength and dedication to keep one’s shit together through that kind of agony, and like most artists, these Southern fellows tend to channel the emotional byproducts of their lives into their work. What we have here is an accurate documentation of how a half-decade of getting the shit end of the stick feels. Confrontation is, as its name suggests, a metal album that simply drips with integrity, musicality, vigor, and intensity. Oh, and lets not forget howling, paint-peeling, and immolating rage. This album will put hair on the chest and whiskey in the guts of even the most pimple-faced metal dork. It’s that good.
A conventional song-based breakdown of this album would be more or less pointless. As with most grindcore (for this is certainly a grindcore album), the important thing to grasp is the total experience it imparts upon the listener. The short, simple version is the well-known one: Soilent Green play a hybrid of chaotic grind and bluesy, Sabbath-ian sludge metal. The long version is that the band has here concocted a churning, frothy-mouthed swamp monster of an album that punishes with sheer auditory weight as often as it does with Tommy Buckley’s spot-on staggered blastbeats. There is little conventional songcraft to be found here; instead, the band whips the listener’s ears up, down, side to side, and around in pinwheels and barrel rolls through their convoluted music in search of the perfect riff/rhythm combination. But for all their involved musicianship, this doesn’t come off like prog wanking or tech-metal obscurism. Soilent Green are governed by a snarling, inarguably punk rock brand of aggression; just listen to that Discharge power-chord raving that opens “12 oz. Prophet.” Nor are they too entrenched in their own hyper-angry visage to occasionally loosen up; the drumline antics of “Southern Spirit Suite” and the lazy twang of “Liquor & Cigarettes” imbue the proceedings with a sort of sneering humor that is very welcome in a genre of music in which hardly anyone ever seems to be having any fun. This said, the little instrumental breaks don’t take away from the gravity of the album, and some gravity it is, too. When the band slows it down, the guitars and bass strike with a suffocating thickness and mass that reminds very strongly of their spiritual, musical and geographic cousins Eyehategod. And, of course, there is the indomitable Ben Falgoust ranting and bellowing over the jagged instrumental structure. The man’s performance gives no hint to the fact that in 2002 he was so severely injured in a van crash that he had to relearn the use of his legs; his scathing voice and famously vitriolic lyrics are intact and just as powerful as ever. Congratulations are in order for producer Erik Rutan, who has become an extremely skilled knob twiddler over the years. He has captured the smoking-steel violence wreaked by Soilent Green with flawless clarity without abandoning the grittiness required to complete the band’s ugly persona.
While this is an extremely, extremely excellent album, a pair of minor complaints bar it from a perfect score. The first is actually the double edge of one of their strengths: all of the complex riffage and tempo wrangling packed onto this disk make it a fairly unrelenting and challenging listen, and unprepared or inexperienced fans may find themselves overwhelmed by the Byzantine song structures. It also must be noted that this is not a huge progression from A Deleted Symphony for the Beaten Down, other than perhaps more speed and a (somehow) amplified level of intensity. Fans who were looking for vast stylistic changes from the previous album may be disappointed, but somehow I don’t think many will mind. Confrontation sees Soilent Green continue their tradition of unheralded excellence, and the metal world should take note. You out there with the pizza-face acne and Pantera shirt: buy this album. You won’t regret it.
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Inevitable Collapse In The Presence Of Conviction
4/15/2008 Soilent Green
A Deleted Symphony for the Beaten Down