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It goes without saying that many of the Southeast's metal bands manage to overcome trials and continue to put out unique quality music. Soilent Green is an excellent example of this, with "Confrontation" being recorded after Ben Falgoust's car crash and Scott Williams' murder in 2004. Yet that in itself didn't deter this New Orleans outfit from coming up with another collection of songs for what turned out to be a slightly different, though still satisfying album for the Soilent Green fanbase.
"Confrontation" sees the band bringing more Southern groove and less grindcore elements, though there are still plenty of that to be found. Falgoust continues to emit his unvaried, though hefty hardcore inspired vocals, though his performance isn't nearly as tedious as most vocalists categorized as "hardcore inspired." The riff work continues to be gritty supplying a dense amount of sludgy heaviness while Tommy Buckley delivers a very commendable performance behind the kit, one of the things I really enjoyed about this album.
Once we get past "Scarlet Sunrise," which is more a disposable introductory track than anything else, "Leaves of Three" roars from the speakers. It heavily rides that Southern groove I mentioned earlier, and were it not for the more dense guitar tone and perhaps more focused attack, I'd say it reminds me a little of Pantera's latter career material. "A Scream Trapped Underwater" is similiar, though in my opinion better, not to mention my personal favorite track on the record as it teeters between the band's usual frenzy and more groovier elements. Falgoust delivers something of a varied vocal approach here, managing to be clear in his words, which is rather unusual for the majority of the material he's contributed to with this band. Despite the departure, his variations work very well here.
Notice that many of the other songs off "Confrontation" take on a similiar sound to "A Scream Trapped Underwater." I don't foresee that as necessarily bad, since both "12 Oz. Prophet," with its catchy intro and "Forgive & Regret" both work fine but are shorter than the song they seem to mimic, but don't confuse "mimic" with self-plagarism. "Theory of Pride In Tragedy" is a similiar story, but this one leans more on the altar of speed metal, something I'm a pretty big fan of and personally enjoyed encountering on this album. The album closer, "A Permanent Solution to a Temporary Problem" also works fine, delivering a hammer to the face just as "Confrontation" draws to a close.
Unfortunately, "Confrontation" isn't all sludge infested happiness and utter brutality. Some songs, particularly "Pretty Smiles & Shattered Teeth" and the political striker "They Lie to Hide the Truth" both get repetitive, which seems to happen more on "Confrontation" than anywhere else in Soilent Green's catalog. Neither of these are horrendous, but neither are essential listens, either. In addition to those is a barrage of filler interludes. I personally dislike interludes or short, seemingly pointless instrumentals because while on the first or second listen they might be halfway interesting, but on repeated listens it gets tiring. Some of these interludes work decently enough, I particularly stick around to hear Tommy Buckley's thirty-five second drum solo on "Southern Spirit Suite," because I like the guy and his work. Elsewhere, the laid back "Liqour & Cigarettes" is quite charming, really, despite the overall darkness and anger of the album as a whole. Beyond those two, the remaining fillers just get tiring to withstand, as you wait impatiently for the next proper song to begin.
Aside from my minor complaints that drag down the album in a rather miniscule way, Soilent Green delivered a respectable hammer on "Confrontation." They continue to be a unique band in the Southeast "sludge" metal movement, probably one of the more unique scenes out there to begin with. I've always took a liking to this band and their irresistable soundtrack to a misanthropic dystopian hell, and "Confrontation" meets almost all expectations set for them. This isn't necessarily my favorite album of theirs, nor is it their most celebrated in terms of their whole career, but it still requires looking into for the Soilent Green fan.
Good god this album is awful. I don’t understand how someone can listen to so many songs with practically one standard riff and such a dense, generic, and unexciting guitar tone! The vocals are very mono in sound and not even that good. Nothing new is brought to the table with this CD, nor anything by this band really, except maybe some country music mixed with sludge grind (referring mainly to the filler tracks).
The only track I can really stand is ‘Leaves Of Three’, since it’s the first actual song on the album and to me makes it be the only ‘original’ song, since everything else sounds the same to me. The patterns are very standard, simple riffs with unimpressive guitar solos. The vocalist would be better if he did something else other then a standard hardcore-like scream (maybe some higher pitch vocals thrown in there or even Pantera-style singing every so often would sound better). I will give the bassist credit though, he has raw talent. The guitarist would be good if he put more effort into the music, cause it sounds like he’s sitting on a couch drinking beer playing one tune and switching the arrangement of the notes.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for sludge metal, death grind, and stoner music in general, but this is just awful all around. Nothing stands out, the filler tracks are lame, and the music all around is boring and generic, painful to my ears even. The only upside I can think of for this band is there writing. The song titles alone are very interesting but misleading to look at. Overall I’d say this album was a waist of $15, and turned me off of this band forever.
Diversity, Soilent Green, diversity. It will take you places.
One thing can always be irrefutably noted about Soilent Green; despite the genuine and widespread lauding they have always received (and even moreso nowadays since all the shit they've had), there has always been an equally large number of listeners who subtly comment that they're actually not so spectacular as one might be led to believe by all their press. Some might even say pedestrian, and that regardless of the fact that they are also gifted with a unique sound.
That unique sound is key. While it was less pronounced and so harder to latch onto as a positive aspect of their sound on previous albums, Confrontation sees Soilent Green resting on augmented laurels. Both the sound production and songwriting approaches on this album successfully highlight what makes Soilent Green at once so refreshing and yet so difficult to fully enjoy or appreciate. As others have noted, they do not play a straightforward mix of any particular genre; death metal fans coming to this could easily be put-off by the hardcore-ish vocals, grind fans will fail to find any repetitive, catchy riffs, hardcore fans would be lost with the lack of breakdowns or conventional song structure... and yet Confrontation is still a tour de force that has all the impact that such genres can muster without falling into the pitfalls of any. Arguably, it is a perfect mix, but it is as easy to argue; especially without having digested the album multiple times; that it lacks all the things that make those genres interesting. So what is it exactly that Soilent Green have mastered on this excellent disc?
Well there are two things that set them apart. The first, and most noticeable, are the numerous, distinctly Southern flavoured interludes peppered throughout. They're fab, they really are. They're short, so we are not distracted from the real meat, and they punctuate the otherwise hard to differentiate morass of metal. Furthermore, the metal that Soilent Green has penned here is a less varied affair on a macrocosmic level; there isn't as much in the way of bluesy, sludgy crawls as on previous records. They are still there, but they are fewer in number and more smoothly integrated, leaving the Southern flavour this band is known for to be found conveniently in the interludes. It is a good approach, and one that adds a lot more colour to the album, especially compared to previous work.
Secondly, and much less noticable, are the guitars. Oh these guitars...how to get a grip on them. Soilent Green really don't play riffs, in general. This is entirely atypical guitaring from a band considered part of the grind genre. There are an extreme few actual riffs, and no repetition of them. Instead, they are happy to meander along and explore melodic and rhythmic ideas in a completely linear fashion, pausing at no time to repeat past material, but forging ever onwards and creating new, expansive themes. This is doubtless the main reason that Soilent Green are frequently rated below their hype; it is simply impossible to appreciate this music unless you are listening closely and following the guitars on their almost random journeys. No songs end how they begin, and no songs repeat motifs within their own structures. Even given strict attention, it is very easy for this material to go right over the head.
Despite this, Soilent Green have crafted a stellar collection of songs. While lacking any form of catchiness outside of some very shortlived grooves and a couple of memorable expressions (the straining guitars on Pretty Smiles & Shattered Teeth come to mind), those guitar journeys are nevertheless very interesting, and kind to repeat listenings. Indeed, this material just gets better and better with repeat spins. About the only criticism aside from general ungraspability (I don't care that it isn't a word) are the vocals. Ben Falgoust is capable at what he does, hell, his vocals are great. For a song or two. Unfortunately, there are a lot of good lyrics, and so he's more or less always shouting, in his forceful but extremely monotone and unvaried way. After just a couple of songs, I personally find myself just blanking out the vocals from my mind and concentrating on the guitars, otherwise they would begin to annoy me. Because they hardly ever stop. And they never change. So much so, that it seems like every song has the exact same vocal track, which is never a good sign. If it wasn't for the vocals, I would probably be inclined to rate Confrontation in the high 80s or low 90s, but as it is, it finds itself slightly mutilated by Falgoust's constant attrition on the listener.
Otherwise, this is an excellent and direct piece of pure metal, and undoubtedly Soilent Green's most impactuous album so far.
If you are reading this review, do me one favor. Could you all please say it out loud: "This is Soilent Green's Confrontation CD." A little obvious and dumb, but let me get to the real point. Soilent Green are back...they've been in car crashes, lost a bassist under very tragic and sudden circumstances, and they're a very well-respected band of metal legends. This is the sound of all that pressure, heartbreak, loss, and frustration being taken out back and soundly thrashed: yep, Soilent Green got it right with the title of their new release.
Soilent Green got it right for this CD is nothing but Confrontation indeed. The Soilent Green sound is as vital as ever, the band still alternating between grooving, bone-breaking grind, muddy sludge, and everything in-between. The only difference is in how suprisingly well it sounds: with each new listen I find Confrontation staring me down with something I missed the time before, and all to my liking.
"Scarlet Sunrise" is the much-lauded intro song, an instrumental second or two of music that sounds like a NASCAR event. "Leaves of Three" sounds just like good old Soilent Green. Take one half southern sludge, one fourth hardcore vocals courtesy of Ben Falgoust, and one fourth more transitive grind that pops up here and there so seamlessly you'd think that it's breakneck signature sound has always been easily compatible with the laid-back swagger of sludge. The song switches pace so often you hardly know what hit you so hard and before you know it it's all over, like an UFC mixed-martial arts match. "A Scream Trapped Underwater" is a favorite of mine. The song's excellent see-sawing between frantic grind and crusty hard rock is head-banging material for sure. Falgoust's vocals manage to be caustic and ripping yet strangely clear; I received no lyric sheets for this review but I know pretty much what he's saying, no questions asked. "Forgive & Regret" has some southern rock tones buoying Falgoust's vocals; not to mention excellent drumming from Tommy Buckley, who sounds like a skin-smacking octopus from Hell. "12 Oz. Prophet" is a straight-up aggro-grind/hard rock medley, no questions asked. "Southern Spirit Suite" is a polite, march-worthy drum interlude which leads into the dynamite blasting of "Pretty Smiles & Shattered Teeth." As mentioned earlier, Soilent Green have perfected the slow-to-heavy ratio of tempo; one has pounding sludge to speedy grind covered in crust and back again all in the space of one nice song like this. "Liquor & Cigarettes" conveys a kindly, homey, country-jazz feel...difficult to describe but a nice change of scene. A breather like "Liquor" is a must before the upcoming flurry of gut punches; the next few songs are the best of the entire album. "Theory of Pride in Tragedy" sounds like an unholy matrimony of the mosh-core of Throwdown, the grind of early Napalm Death, and even a bit of southern fried rock. Liking all three genres just mentioned, I count this as one of the album's most shining highlights. The equally solid "Fingernails on a Chalkboard" is drenched in frantic blast-beats, Falgoust's vomited vocals, and the pissed-off conviction of straight-up, hardcore, rage. The funky bass lines of the interlude "Paper Cut" are another resting spot; the swaggering beatdown that is "They Lie to Hide the Truth" takes all of your brief recovery away in the blink of a black eye. "Another Cheap Brand of Luck" is a hokey guitar passage, folksy and to the point. The CD ends with a bang; "This Glass House of Broken Words" and "A Permanent Solution to a Temporary Problem" are the dynamtie and the fuse, respectively, blowing you apart.
When all is said and done, this CD is pretty good, but not great. It is a solid release from a unique, trail-blazing, and alltogether uncommon band. However, no matter how many genres one mixes, variety can still be avoided and at times Confrontation feels a bit blurry; songs run into and out-of each other with little or nothing to discern them with. I suppose the simply huge amount of "interludes" (in my mind filler) are attempts to remedy this. Giving each instrumentalist in the band a chance to quickly bust out their out jam, their own chance to shine mind you, is kind of cool on paper but nothing great on track. Fans have waited a long-time for this CD; I am wondering if many will clamor for the next album to have fifteen SOILENT GREEN tracks as opposed to a few tracks interspersed with solo pieces. Let's face it folks; the great thing about Soilent Green isn't the band members themselves, but the sum of all parts. Despite these minor failings, Soilent Green's Confrontation is an excellent album filled with a smorgasboard of metal archetypes and technical wizardry. A must for die-hard fans, instrument worshippers, or people looking for something a little bit different.
originally printed on www.ANTIMusic.com
Alot has been said about the tragedies and awful bad luck that has struck the heart of the Soilent Green camp since their phenomenal third album, A Deleted Symphony for the Beaten Down, was released towards the end of 2001, so I wont waste anymore space in this review detailing these events. Essentially this review is, as it should be, dedicated to Soilent Green's long awaited and triumphant return: Confrontation.
Confrontation is the fourth full length album from the New Orlean's based five piece, complete with a couple of line-up changes since the last album and another new producer, and atleast in the eyes ( and through the ears! ) of this reviewer, Soilent Green have delivered another essential modern extreme metal masterpiece. Soilent Green long ago established their unique, signature sound and though Confrontation is no great progression from A Deleted Symphony.., it does offer some twists and turns, and perhaps most importantly, Confrontation is a fresh, brilliantly written and executed example of where Soilent Green are at in 2005.
Famed metal musician/songwriter/producer Eric Rutan was presented with the knob twiddling duties, and by using his fast improving production skills and by combining older, more traditional recording methods with modern technology (Pro-Tools), Rutan has blessed Soilent Green with their best production thus far in their illustrious career. Clarity and thick, sludgy heaviness reign surpreme, everything is superbly mixed and the end result is spectacular, before even taking into account the incredible songwriting and musicanship on display.
One of the first notable differences on Confrontation are to do with Ben Falgoust's always phenomenal vocal attack. While on previous albums, Ben has utilised a higher pitched, almost "blackened" vocal accompaniment to his varied lower range vox, on Confrontation his higher range is, well, far less "backened"?!? Instead the higher range vocals are nasty, raw, venomous snarls, while his lower vox are utilised on a far more regular basis then on prior releases, and they sound as amazing and as varied as fans have come to expect from one of extreme metal's more unique and excellent vocalists.
After a rather pointless intro Soilent Green bust into the thick, simple opening groove of "Leaves of Three", and a short way into the tune, the fuzzed out, precision blasting from Tommy Buckley and the unpredictable, varied tempo shifts and thick, bluesy grooves take hold. Throughout the remainder of the album, Soilent Green deliver their unique, grind/sludge/punk/bluesy brand of extreme metal at full throttle, each track a snarling, pissed off fireball of raw, unpredicatable and always scintillating extreme metal, regardless of what speed they are playing at. Speaking of speed, this is the band's fastest material in a while, both throughout the scathing blast beat sections and the full throttle, sludgey, punk fuelled thrashy sections. Each track is of a very high standard but if I was to select a handful of my personal favourite killer cuts they would include:
Scream Trapped Underwater, 12 Oz. Prophet, Pretty Smiles & Shattered teeth, Theory of Pride in Tragedy and a Permanent Solution to a Temporary Problem.
Curiously, they decided to record a new, slightly different version of the track "They lie to hide the truth", which originally appeared on their split 7" with Eyehategod a couple of years ago. The track is however, positioned nicely on the album and the production is an improvment from the original. Confrontation also includes some experimental, noodling interludes which help to pace the album by breaking up their scathing metal attack with these chilled out, Southern fried interludes. These four interludes vary in their success, with the upbeat, Southern twang of "Another Cheap Brand of Luck" being my personal favourite.
Confrontation is a more fleshed out album then its predecessor, featuring 15 tracks and around 20 mminutes more play time then A Deleted Symphony.., offered. However, im refusing to compare this album with previous works at this early stage, particularly after I was obsessed with the captivating brilliance of A Deleted Symphony... I can however say with confidence that Confrontaion is a blistering return for one of my favourite bands, easily my current favourite metal album of 2005, and another modern metal classic by the one and only Soilent Green, therefore it scores 99%..... Ah fuck it. 100%, trust me, its worth it.