Few things are more instantly satisfying than a hard rock song which isn’t afraid to embed a glistening pop hook at its core. Songs like that often catch unsuspecting listeners deeply and just drag them along for miles; they’re the kinds of songs which make fans with radio play and establish the band who makes them on the greater public (not just the ‘metal’) radar. It’s the kind of song that SOiL has in “The Hate Song,” the second track on the band’s sixth album, Whole.
Listeners will know they’re hooked from the moment guitarist Adam Zadel’s axe starts grinding, Tim King’s bass gives up some truly menacing and crunchy low end and Will Hunt’s drums start pounding against their chests. Listeners will already be able to feel their mouths curling back into a sneer involuntarily as singer Ryan McCombs begins barking out an anthemic vocal line but, when the verse gives way to the song’s chorus and listeners are hit with the words “You are so beautiful/ So I wrote you this pretty little hate song/ Our love is so true/ I wrote this love song to let you know I hate you,” time will feel as though it has stopped for a second. The lyrics and growled, bombastic melody are pure pop in the same way Limp Bizkit’s “Break Stuff,” Puddle Of Mudd’s “She Hates Me” and Korn’s “Shoots And Ladders” were, and (just like those songs too) the tarnished pop spirit is perfectly apparent. If the current breed of metal band has any chance at breaking onto the pop charts, it starts here – and that’s pretty cool.
“The Hate Song” proves to not be the only song of its sort on Whole too. SOiL illustrates that the last decade spent as ‘far under the radar’ recording artists hasn’t been for nothing as they knock out a series of “would be, should be” hard rock radio staples like “Ugly,” “Way Gone,” “Wake Up” and “My Time” with an ease which makes the album roll along like it’s lubricated with liquid graphite and a musclebound power which can win every ear it connects with because the raw aggression and shred licks are just overpowering; they hit hard and don’t pause to see how much damage they’ve caused, they just keep going and do it again and again with every other song too.
By the time (the ironically entitled) “One Love” comes, melts faces and leaves to signal that the proceedings are closed, listeners will be left feeling assaulted, but they’ll also be ready to start the whole donnybrook again because it’s just so beguiling. No one who experiences Whole will be able to deny that, in listening, it hasn’t felt like an eternity since a hard rock/metal act had the versatility to break into the pop market, and it’s just fun to hear it BE possible again. True, SOiL has already had five chances to break through but, this time, it feels like the band has learned a few lessons and applied them; the band might have had five chances before but, on Whole, they actually sound like they’ve got a shot.