Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

We sure ain't in NWOBHM-land anymore - 96%

Jophelerx, July 8th, 2014
Written based on this version: 1989, 12" vinyl, Chrome

Holocaust were a decently well-known NWOBHM in the early 80s, managing to ride in fairly early with a full length in '81, and lucky enough to get another one out in '84, just before the last echoes of the scene began to fade out. As with most NWOBHM, it was pretty simple, rocking, enjoyable and unambitious stuff. Frontman John Mortimer took over bass and vocal duties in addition to guitar on the second album, as the band was close to dead at this point, and did die for a few years. During this time I imagine Mortimer started spinning a lot of Voivod and twiddling away on the guitar while drinking his preferred alcoholic beverage, since in 1988 he reformed the band with an entirely new lineup and direction. Gone was virtually any vestige of the early 80s NWOBHM sound, and in was a weird, trippy prog/tech thrash sound that we'd really only heard from Canadian metallers Voivod at this point in time; this 1989 EP takes a lot of Killing Technology influence, and possible some from Dimension Hatross as well; since that album was only a year earlier, I'm not sure whether or not the music for The Sound of Souls had been written or not when it came out. Certainly Mortimer had at least heard Killing Technology, though, as this direction would be a massive coincidence in style otherwise.

The maturity of the record is quite remarkable given the fact that it almost surely had to be conceived, written, and recorded in two years or less, and the style was in its infancy. Mortimer's vocals are especially impressive, as he had a rather unpolished clean style on 1984's No Man's Land, while here he delivers a tightly controlled raspy yell that works very well for the style but sounds almost nothing like his NWOBHM performance; clearly, he's skilled and charismatic. He opts for a cleaner tone occasionally that is equally good, particularly on the final track "Three Ways to Die" where he sounds appropriately robotic. He may not technically have a lot of range or power, but he's still an excellent vocalist (and guitarist).

In addition to the Voivod influence, there's also a fair bit of progressive rock influence here and there, particularly Rush, whose influence seems to creep into many progressive metal bands. The combination of dissonant, unorthodox thrash riffs and serene, gentle prog rock riffs is a very interesting, complex, and satisfying one; it leaves the listener feeling ambiguous, and then at times when it drops the prog rock it's pure chaos, and when it drops the thrash it's pure serenity; Mortimer and co. seem to know exactly when to do this, particularly on the last two tracks; the first three are almost exclusively dominated by the thrash sound, though they're still quite excellent. It's this dichotomy that makes Holocaust's sound truly their own; even on their first excursion into the style, they're far from mere Voivod worship, and their sound would only continue to mature on follow-up albums Hypnosis of Birds and Covenant. "Three Ways to Die" in particular hearkens toward their later development, as it's a highly dynamic, multi-part epic that manages to convey a variety of attitude throughout its nearly twelve minute length. If you like this one, just wait for the sixteen minute epic on Covenant - you certainly won't be disappointed.

Overall it's really hard to point out any flaws in this mini-album (really it could easily be considered a full-length with a running time of 32 minutes); "I Smash the Void" has some moderate flow issues and "Curious" is sorely lacking the presence of Mortimer's vocals, but other than that, this release is just about perfect. If you're a fan of progressive metal or in particular progressive thrash, or certainly if you're a fan of Voivod, you need to hear this release, as well as the next two full-lengths; Mortimer was just completely on his game here, and it's really something special.

Essential Unique Progressive Thrash - 100%

PaganMurphy, April 2nd, 2010

From the lands of Scotland Holocaust started off as a nwobhm band. As time passed and with John Mortimer as the only original member they progressed into a more technical thrash band. With a new identity and a new sound Holocaust deliver a brilliant EP on The Sound of Souls.

The first thing you will notice on this release is that everything has changed since the glory days of the nwobhm. There is a more robotic and mysterious atmosphere surrounding the album. If you are a fan of Voivod albums such as Killing Technology, Dimension Hatröss, and/or Nothingface, or if you are into thrash metal with unique vocals than this album brings those elements together into one stylish package.

Despite the atmosphere this album creates is solid throughout the release you will easily notice each song has a different vocal style. This will make lead you to question if they hired several vocalists for different songs. In fact John Mortimer is the singer on this album. If you have happened to of heard No Man's Land or any other Holocaust release with John Mortimer on vocals this will be quite a treat and surprise. These vocal approaches start of as a unique vile scream similar to what is heard years later on Primal on the first song This Annihilation. The second song I Smash the Void is very jazzy and has a shout with occasional under-layering vocals in a lower octave. Dance into the Vortex features a scream similar yet different to the first song but also adds a somewhat whispered voice during the each bridge before the chorus. Curious is an instrumental prelude to the song Three Ways to Die. Three Ways to Die which is over ten minutes long is a masterpiece. The vocals are clean on this song. The song thoroughly progresses from part to part into an epic ending. The song brings very different feelings to mind. It is very hard to explain with words.

The Guitars are stereo and done by John Mortimer. The feel the guitars bring are that of the jazzy and progressive Voivod. You will hear those dissonant tri-tone chords and robotic movements and thrash like riffing. The bass underlines the guitars much of the album, but you will notice many differences from the guitar to bass movements on Curious and Three Ways to Die. The music as a whole creates feelings similar to Voivod's more progressive and memorable works.

The drums are done by Steve Cowen who has played through most of Holocaust's mid and late career. He uses a drum machine at some points which create a nice vibe which you will hear in Dance into the Vortex. He is indeed a creative and solid drummer for this style.

I would recommend this album to anyone looking for something different and interesting to listen to. Holocaust are always changing their style up and always deliver good releases. Go listen now. You wont be disappointed.