Release DetailsLABEL Crash Music
RELEASED ON 7/25/2006
Writings On The Wall
posted on 9/2006 By:
I used to dig the Crash Music label. I really did. They’ve put out their fair share of crushing death & thrash metal albums over the past few years, but lately I’ve been utterly baffled at the way they’ve transformed their roster in comparison to even a year ago. Seriously, what’s with all this bad edgy mainstream rock/nu-metal shit? Not only is the style not maintaining any popularity, the music continues to be as derivative and generic as ever, and Souls Harbor’s Writings On The Wall is no exception. I thought the trend was dead, but yet again here it is.
I actually dig rock music and lighter metal sometimes. Those blastbeats can be awfully tiring after a while, but when I throw on Souls Harbor it feels like I just turned on the radio or something, and the radio fucking sucks, and has for years. In every way, from the guitar tone, to the somewhat rough melodic vocals that try to sound both emotional yet masculine, to the ‘life is a journey’ feel of the lyrics, it feels like they were aiming straight for the Nonpoint & Papa Roach audience on this one, just without the hip-hop or urban vibe. And ya’ know what? I don’t have a problem with that whatsoever, even if I wouldn't listen to it myself, given a choice. As a gateway sort of genre, I feel there is much merit to this type of more mainstream music when it’s performed with a bit of integrity, and you can actually tell which bands are doing it for the potential cash grab before the cow finally dies, and those who might be trying for something a little more long-term. Souls Harbor sound like an authentic band, I’ll give them that, and they even show a moment of greatness with the rather excellent, simple chorus of “Nothing”, but other than that, I wouldn’t recommend this to many readers of this site.
On the off chance that there might actually be someone interested in this kind of music here, I’ll be honest and say Souls Harbor are good at what they do, and this album isn’t torture. Doug Marshall has got a great voice, a little gravelly in tone but smooth in delivery and definitely not of the emo variety. As far as their musicianship goes, well, there’s only so much room to show it off when playing this kind of metal, although bassist Ryland Underwood shows himself to be quite an impressive player by filling in the gaps between basic, unchallenging drum beats and brand-X guitar riffs with his spacious, substantial bass fills which are much more interesting than the main riffs they’re supporting. Souls Harbor also know how to put together a bunch of decent, relatively catchy tunes (the repetition of "For Me" was rather annoying, however), but that doesn’t help the fact that they pretty much go nowhere, and do a whole lot of nothing in the process through these 40 or so minutes of brooding pop metal.
There are hundreds of small and large-budget action movies filmed each year, and they usually fill their soundtracks with bands like Souls Harbor. There are hundreds of places of business that allow their employees to play their own music as long as it doesn’t offend their customers, and Writings On The Wall is an album those employees can be confident in knowing nobody will be offended by if they chose to play it. Is there really anything bad about that? If I was in the band and someone stated my music belonged on B-movie soundtracks and loudspeakers at Hot Topic, that might not be a bad thing at all, but for the faithful viewers of this site, I’d say to just turn on your radio if you want to hear stuff like this, and save your money for something else. Please, at least check them out on their MySpace page before you write them off completely, but I’m still perplexed that this band exists on the same label as Jungle Rot, and Abysmal Dawn.
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