Released: 2013, Auburn Records
I had the pleasure of discovering Soulless years back and have followed them over the years. In my mind Soulless should be linked with and as big as the other titans of European, melodic Death/Thrash such as Arch Enemy, Norther, Children of Bodom, Dew Scented, Carnal Forge, Kalmah, who all started basically the same time, in the late 90’s. There was this awesome little wave from Europe of that sound and Soulless, despite being American, were part of it, in my twisted little mind anyway. While those half-dozen bands (and a handful of others, Dimesnion Zero, Raise Hell etc) going onto larger success, Soulless toiled away making music as good or better without getting the same level of recognition which always irked me.
However, the past is the past and Soulless are back after a six year break with a new full-length album called IN DEATH’S GRIP. The line-up has remained pretty stable; over the years for this mid-western quintet. The band has shifted from World Chaos Records to a little closer to home with the esteemed Auburn Records. The CD itself is a nice package, photos, lyrics, and very decent production as well. The guitar tone has lots of bite. The ten-track album (plus an intro and a cover tune) runs about 45 minutes but there is a hidden bonus joke/track with the boys fooling around. Their mascot ‘Al’ is back on the cover this time the poor guy is getting his face squished, although not to worry he is a tough old bastard. So despite the absence, not too much has changed, the band still have presented a high quality album on all fronts.
The pace of the album is pretty intense. After 15+ years in the game, the band have not let go of the throttle. There is still a lot of dynamics as well as heard on tracks like ‘Sinner Without A Soul’, eases back just a bit to give the main riff a bit more room to breath, as it were. Vocalist Jim Lippucci till sounds pretty pissed off as he delivers the intense lyrics of death, destruction, mayhem and all the other good things in life. He varies between a death growl and higher thrash voice with ease. The songs have a fairly conventional structure, not getting too fancy in the arrangements, just letting the guitar tear along propelled by the speedy drumming with a few tempo changes to mix it up without out resorting to cheap breakdown to drawn attention. My favourite song would probably have to be ‘Serpent Reaper’ and the cover of Destructor’s ‘Take Command’ with Dave Overkill on guest vokills is a real treat as well .
Soulless is one of those truly unsung bands that deserve more attention than they have got. Perhaps it was the Japanese label, maybe it was weaker distribution in the States, maybe there were starting at a low point when thrash was not as popular, maybe even the long periods between albums, but whatever the reason, now is your chance to check Soulless out and IN DEATH’S GRIP is a great place to start.