|Musical Style: Hard Rock||Produced By: John Goad|
|Record Label: Independent||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2006||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 12||Rating: 70%|
|Running Time: 64:28|
Jonesboro, Arkansas based Immortal Soul came together in April of 2006 as a result of a joining between bassist Jeff Cline and brothers Jason (guitars and lead vocals) and John Goad (drums). The newly formed power trio immediately began performing live – playing the local club scene in addition to community centers and festivals – and soon came up with the material that encompassed its seven song demo release from the summer of 1997. The next several years found the group continuing to play live throughout Arkansas until going on hiatus in 2001. Reforming in mid-2004, Immortal Soul began work on new material and, after spending more than a year in the studio, independently released its full length debut, Lines In The Sand, in December of 2006.
On Lines In The Sand Immortal Soul gives us a blend of straightforward hard rock and metal while delivering a ton of groove in the process. Think older Galactic Cowboys, prime King’s X, early nineties Bride, Die Happy and other gritty hard rock bands such as Grand Lux, Rez Band, Lordchain and F.O.G. What stands out most about Immortal Soul is its ability to compose a song with a solid hook. A perfect example of this is the driving metal of the albums opening track, “Hand Of God”, in addition to the catchy “Lines In The Sand”, groove laden “Owe My Life” and eighties influenced metal of “Spiritual Eyes”. “Slaves To The Machine” brings a Galactic Cowboys style sound and “Brutal Truth” a melding of metal and thrash. The angry and seething “State Of Mind” is mid-tempo hard rock at its very best. Lines In The Sand, on the other hand, does not come without its downturns. The thrashy “Cleansed”, for example, borders on the repetitious and “Return To Me’, “One Nation Under God” and “Fatal Flaw” the pedestrian side of things.
Jason Goad brings a gruff and gritty mid-octave vocal style that occasionally hints at Ben Huggins (Galactic Cowboys) or Phil Goode (Grand Lux)- though not quite as good in either case. I find that his delivery can come across slightly dry and strained at times, particularly on “Cleansed”, “Return To Me” and “Fatal Flaws”. But, on the other hand, when he hits the nail on the head, such as “Slaves To The Machine” and “Spiritual Eyes”, he proves himself capable vocalist. My overall feeling is that this represents the only area to potentially prevent the band from reaching greater acclaim. To understand my point, imagine how much better the material here would sound if handled by a vocalist with the snarl of Mike Lee (Barren Cross), charisma of Chaz Bond (Jacobs Dream) or range of Dale Thompson (Bride).
It is in the area of lead and rhythm guitar that Jason truly shines. Just check out the monstrous riffs – some thick as stink and others groove laden or even thrash flavored – he imbues the full length of the project. His lead work proves equally notable, something best demonstrated on the albums title track, “Spiritual Eyes” and the lengthy instrumental sections gracing “Slaves To The Machine” and “State Of Mind”.
Drummer Jon Goad and bassist Jeff Cline provide solid support as the bands rhythm section.
Production values prove a bit erratic. While Immortal Soul has nailed a near perfect rhythm guitar sound, the albums low end can come across muddy in feel.
Packaging represents another area in need of improvement. The album artwork is too simplistic in concept while no lyrics were included either.
Speaking of the lyrics, one must commend the band for the open and forthright direction they take throughout the project.
“The Hand Of God” charges forward from the start to a punchy guitar riff, powering through its verse portions until reaching a muscular chorus conveyed in authoritative fashion. Every bit as heavy as it is catchy, “The Hand Of God” stands out as quite the consummate album opener.
Norway’s Grand Lux is the first thing that comes to mind when listening to “Lines In The Sand”. A strapping wall of rhythm guitar prevails over the song its full distance, bringing out the best in its hook driven chorus and extensive instrumental section showcasing a run of biting lead guitar. The emotionally charged environs put in place by this one helps it rank with the albums best.
“Cleansed” is a thrash flavored number a bit heavy handed for my taste. The song begins ominously to an instrumental introduction carried by a quietly played guitar as a hint of guitar feedback decorates the background. Abruptly picking up in pace, “Cleansed” evenly forges ahead only to hit a wall for a bluntly delivered chorus that can come across on the repetitive side of things.
Groove-laden hard rock at its best, “Owe My Life” stands out as an up-tempo piece in which a forward bass line is amalgamated with quite the infectious chorus. An excess of energy is exuded here, the non-stop catchy hook and sizzling run of lead guitar guaranteed to draw you in and refuse to let go. The Galactic Cowboys would be proud.
Speaking of the Galactic Cowboys, the aggressive but melodic “Slave To The Machine” would not sound out of place on earlier albums by the band such as Space In Your Face (1992) or Machine Fish (1996). A hard hitting guitar riff initiates the song before it kicks into high gear. Charging ahead in an unrelenting manner, “Slaves To The Machine” evens out prior to a catchy chorus backed by an underlining hint of backing vocals. The band exhibits the strength of its instrumental prowess throughout a two minute instrumental section.
Things keep getting better with the eighties influenced metal of “Spiritual Eyes”. Introduced to several seconds of open air rhythm guitar, the song pulsates ahead to an anthem-like riff before evening out for a chorus giving rise to an excess of melodic appeal. More snarling lead guitar helps put this one over the top. Another great hook here.
“The Brutal Truth” delivers a blend of metal and thrash not unlike Boarders. Powerful is the best way to describe the song as it gets underway to a literal torrent of rhythm guitar. Establishing a bottom heavy setting is it urges ahead, “The Brutal Truth” gains further momentum for a chorus advancing at an energized upbeat tempo. Again, a prevailing hook here you will be challenged to rid of your mind.
Straightforward and driving, “State Of Mind” proves a back to basics hard rocker standing out with its forceful mid-tempo impetus and resonant chorus exuding a near guttural ambience. No, “State Of Mind” might not be as catchy as many of the tracks here, but the songs all out driving charisma and determined instrumental section closing out its final two and a half minutes prove more than enough to draw you in. Actually, I can see Barren Cross recording this and sounding right at home.
“Return To Me” brings a hard rocking sound reminiscent to that of Rez Band or F.O.G. No, nothing fancy- just a no frills and guitar driven number with a rigorous chorus and run of complementary razor sharp lead guitar. The vocal performance of Jason comes across a bit harsh at times, though.
“One Nation Under God” does not quite rank with the albums better material. The song begins to a bass guitar solo and cuts its way ahead to an animated rhythm guitar but in the end falls a bit flat due to the lackluster nature of its chorus. This is one of a couple of songs on Lines In The Sand that should not have made the final cut.
Nothing stands out on the mid-tempo “Fatal Flaws” either. Lacking both a notable chorus hook and the needed energetic presence to put it over the top, the song ends up being relegated to the pedestrian category. The band puts its best foot forward elsewhere.
Lines In The End closes with the nine minute “Wake Up”. The song starts to a pounding rhythm guitar as narration highlights the backdrop. Gradually building impetus over its first two minutes, “Wake Up” crunches its way ahead until reaching a robust chorus in which Jason’s voice bounces between the left and right channel. Upon reaching its five minute mark, however, “Wake Up” fades out and appears to end but returns after thirty seconds in the form of an aggressive – almost thrash-like – number. The untitled track hits hard and fast with its pounding drum sound and rumbling mix of rhythm guitar. A fitting end to a good – though somewhat uneven – album.
Immortal Soul displays a great deal of promise on Lines In The Sand. The band proves itself capable of composing a quality number with a solid hook in addition to furnishing an abundance of forward rhythm guitar and tasty lead guitar. An element of inconsistency in the areas of songwriting and lead vocals, however, are the only areas preventing Immortal Soul from reaching its full potential. Still, I am looking forward to hearing more from these guys in the future.
Track Listing: “The Hand Of God” (3:47), “Lines In The Sand” (6:06), “Cleansed” (5:45), “Owe My Life” (3:31), “Slaves To The Machine” (6:14), “Spiritual Eyes” (4:23), “The Brutal Truth” (4:11), “State Of Mind” (5:41), “Return To Me” (4:06), “One Nation Under God” (6:10), “Fatal Flaws” (5:14), “Wake Up” (9:11)
Jason Goad – Lead Vocals & Guitars
Jeff Cline – Bass
Jon Goad - Drums