Before I write about today’s band, I’d like to point out that there is a Radio KRUD group on MySpace. If you enjoy reading this blog then you should join that group and show your support. If you’re an artist then you can use that group to spread your music. I’d also like to remind everyone that there is a Radio KRUD group on Last.fm. I want to break the 15 member milestone on that group, which we haven’t done yet. C’mon people, jump on board the party train and join those groups! Anyway, on to the post.
I’ve been meaning to write this post for a long, long time. Definitely before Soilent Green released their most recent album Confrontation, which came out last July. Hell, it might have been as early as the Summer of ’04 when Glenn approached me about this whole music blogging business when I decided that Soilent Green would be a good band to write about. So basically, I’ve been thinking about writing this post ever since the inception of Radio KRUD two years ago. You might be thinking, “Wow, this guy is really lazy,” to which I would say, “Yeah, that’s about right.”
Anyway, the mental struggle to write this post is just another chapter in the sorted history I’ve had with Soilent Green. I first encountered them when I bought their CD Sewn Mouth Secrets on a whim back when it was released in ’98. I was 16, going to Catholic high school, and I wanted to get my hands on some good heavy metal. So I ordered SMS from Columbia House (yes, I was a member of the House for a couple of years) and popped it into my boombox with great excitement when it arrived in the mail. The armageddon of sound that followed was unlike anything I had ever heard before. I was into Green Day, the Foo Fighters, and 311 back in those days. I was a strict follower of popular alternative rock with a few exceptions. So when the mach 5 guitars kicked in alongside the earthquake of percussion and the frenzied screams and roars of the maddened vocalist, I was stunned into a state of utter confusion. In other words, I had a “what the fuck?” moment.
Being the inscrutably close-minded and stupid teenager I was, that “what the fuck?” moment lasted for several months to the point where I convinced myself that Sewn Mouth Secrets was a horrible album. You see, Soilent Green is the type of band that creates such ball-bustingly loud heavy metal that the unwilling ear can be misled to believe that every song sounds the same when, in reality, there is some really clever genre bending and song structure going on underneath the layers of noise and chaos. I was so overwhelmed by my unwillingness to compromise with this strange new sound that I ended up scrapping the CD. I didn’t sell it. I didn’t give to someone else. I just tossed it into the garbage. I know that’s not a ringing endorsement for Soilent Green, but that move is something I still regret deep down inside.
In the years after trashing Sewn Mouth Secrets, my musical tastes expanded beyond the popular alt rock of the 90’s and I regretted throwing away that CD. I wanted to listen to it again and relive Soilent Green’s music from a new perspective. But it wasn’t until I discovered MP3.com, back when it was a decent site, that I actually got to reexperience SMS. The music was all that I hoped it would be and more. I was able to appreciate the inventive qualities of their songs as well as the unmitigated power.
“It Was Just an Accident”, the first track off of the album, was a familiar trek into forgotten territory. It starts off with what sounds like the grinding and clicking of rusty machinery accompanied by the manic plucking of guitar strings. Then suddenly everything amps up and the song goes into a frenzied stirring of grindcore, death metal, and Black Sabbath-ish blues-metal. And just as you get used to the pace, Soilent Green switches up the pace and brings “It Was Just an Accident” down to a slow, sludgy tempo. Then it picks back up again and closes on grindingly down tempo note. “Her Unsober Ways” uses this tendency to erratically change tempo in very strange ways. It starts off sounding mellow and somber at the same time, then the onslaught of furious metal suddenly kicks in.
Not only does the ever-switching pace keep you on your toes, but lead vocalist Ben Falgoust alternates so quickly between a screeching howl to a deep growl that you might have thought that there were two vocalists. It’s an impressive feat. I suppose the fact that his higher pitched vocals are dubbed over his deeper vocals at one point of “Her Unsober Ways” adds to the confusion. You know, Falgoust’s ability to quickly alternate between those two raging extremes combined with his immense size ends up with a frontman who must be a really imposing figure at live concerts. I’ve seen live videos of Soilent Green perform and it’s definitely a sight to see, but I have a feeling that being close to the stage where you can feel the stench of the crowd of metalheads moshing around you as Ben Falgoust is screaming right in front of your face is a much more impressive experience.
I suppose I should talk about Confrontation at least briefly in this post just so I don’t feel like I have to come back and write even more about Soilent Green. It pretty much follows the same general format as I described for Sewn Mouth Secrets, but the melodies are a bit more discernible and there seems to be a lesser fog of chaos to filter through. I suppose this change could be viewed as being better or worse depending on your opinions of helter-skelter music, but I don’t really see it in either light. I just see the shift as being different but without any real change in actual quality. Soilent Green is still the same incredible, genre defying band that they always were. The only improvement that I hear in their new material comes from better transitions within the songs. Like I said, they really like to change up the pace within individual tracks and I feel that when they do that in Confrontation it’s a lot more seamless than in their earlier material while still having the same disorienting effect.
So, in summary, I hope this post makes up for throwing away Sewn Mouth Secrets all those years ago. No music should be wasted, especially not the good stuff. And everything’s gotta be good to somebody, even if it’s the same person a few years down the road.
Buy Confrontation by Soilent Green
Soilent Green – Leaves of Three
Soilent Green – Forgive & Regret
Buy the Sewn Mouth Secrets re-release by Soilent Green
Soilent Green – It Was Just an Accident
Soilent Green – Her Unsober Ways