Cycles marks a couple of firsts for Soul Control. After a slew of releases (an EP, a split 7”, a comprehensive CD release also featuring several new songs, and a 7” singles series) the Rhode Island hardcore outfit ventures into the land of a proper full-length album. But that’s not the only first for the group as they also have a new vocalist in the form of Rory Vangrol - whom you might know from his work with How We Are and Achilles.
Even with the change in vocalists there really isn’t that much variation from the style and sounds that we heard on Soul Control’s other recordings. Not that there was any to be expected. Still, there are a few flourishes added to the group’s 90’s revivalist sound, which results in a little twist to their already slamming sound.
“Beyond Words” sets the pace for the album with its classic 90’s riffing; guitarist Jim Connolly is still heavily influenced by the likes of 108 and Quicksand, but there is also a hint of the noise mongering that was popularized by The Jesus Lizard in there as well. This is matched with a thick, rumbling, driving rhythm section and Vangrol’s coarsely yelled vocals. In comparison to the band’s previous vocalist, I’d say that Vangrol has a little bit more urgency and aggression in his delivery, which benefits the band greatly.
Throughout the thirty-minutes that comprises Cycles Soul Control demonstrates that they’re more than just rehashing a sound. “Pursuing Ghosts” side steps the angular riffs and replaces them with some excellent melodic parts. “Silent Reality” is a droning mid-tempo piece that gives a completely different vibe from the rest of the album. Later on, Connolly throws a bit of a Cave In-inspired noodling on the track “Flux,” which results in one of the more complete and varied sounding tracks on the album.
But at their core, Soul Control is in fact a hardcore band. A perfect example of that is “Like Spiders,” which has an excellent mid-song drop out that leads into an awesome sing-along. The song is rounded out by an excellent Modern Life is War-esque segment. “Life Circle” is another excellent slab of a high-octane hardcore with its fast and crisp riffs, not to mention the awesome sing-along/breakdown that concludes the song. The boys in Soul Control certainly know how to write a quality hardcore tune.
Soul Control’s first full-length release is a stellar one. Even with the lineup shift, the band doesn’t miss a step. By no means are they reinventing hardcore, but that’s fine with me. Cycles may be nostalgic at points, but, more importantly, it is top quality. So long as they continue to churn out tunes like these I’ll be a fan, and so should you.
8.5 / 10
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