Live Review: SOiL – O2 Academy, Newcastle, November 8th 2009

SOiLTaking a detour whilst Shinedown take a day off, US rockers SOiL take residence in Newcastle for the night. In tow are two of the most promising young UK metal acts doing the rounds, and former Kerrang! Introducing stars, The Defiled and Forever Never.

The latter starting the night off, Essex mob Forever Never combine a pummelling, rhythmic metal sound witha thick layer of melody that sounds like Michael Jackson invited Caliban round to Neverland for a jam. (Had he not popped his clogs first.) The five piece, in short words, sound fantastic. Frontman Renny Carroll wields a very powerful, heartfelt voice which only sounds all the more impressive in a live setting, even if his choreographed head banging is a little cringe-worthy. Opener Broken Kingdom and single Never Enough sound crunching and punishing, while retaining a glossy, polished finish. Closer Empty Promises has to be the pick of the bunch however, practically showing off what a technically sound live act Forever Never are. A great start to the night could be difficult to follow up.

On the other side of the scale, London metallers The Defiled offer a far grittier, messier alternative. Their glam-tinted image shines through in their sounds, and what emerges is a swaggering, sleazey rock with a pounding ear bashing to boot; frontman Stitch D‘s peircing growls enough to send shivers down the spine. Though it’s debatable whether keyboardist The A.V.D actually plays a heard note on his instrument or not, his keyboard flipping, tossing, turning and basically abusing, provides one of many humorous sideshows for the set, including a competition to win dregs of Jagermeister, and possibly the least impressive balcony dive into a crowd ever attempted. Still, musically it’s great stuff; EP title track 1888 wields a killer riff and sends bodies flying. Each song is laced with breakdowns and blast beats, and goes down a storm with the ever-warming crowd.

SOiL have sadly somewhat faded into the background in recent years. Though tonight is busy, the venue is by no means full. Since ex-singer Ryan McCombs left the band and later joined Drowning Pool, new crooner AJ Cavalier has seemingly struggled to live up to the impression left by the former frontman, and keep the band on the level it once was. Tonight, that theory is diminished almost instantly. The band roar into their first tracks and it’s clear that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with AJ’s work, and being backed by a fantastic set of musicians, he looks at ease on-stage.

He interacts with the crowd at almost any given oppurtunity, and his vocal work is sublime, matching on the older songs note for note; some of which being My Own and the brilliant Breaking Me Down which spirals the room into mass frenzy. The set is heavy with new record Picture Perfect; no less than a good dozen tracks being aired, which seem to be gartering just as good a reaction, even with a more toned down, hard rock sound. SOiL have hit the nail right on the head tonight, capping off a great performance with fan favourite Halo, which sends the room into rapture. AJ fills Ryan’s shoes very successfully, and tonight at least, it’s fair to say SOiL are perfect.

You could even say they were Picture Perfect.

George Cannings.

SOiL’s new album, Picture Perfect, is out NOW.

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