Sometimes a band needs many years before they find a stable line-up, or before they have the opportunity to record and release decent material. Soulwound is such a band. Actually, the origins go back to the Nineties, when the brothers Niko and Janne Huusari started jamming and gigging. They wrote some pieces, which they did record as a demonstrational release, and there were permanent line-up changes going on in the meantime, which didn’t make it easier to perform live, evidently. And it wasn’t until late 2013 to release their first official studio album (Seeing Red) under the Soulwound-banner. In the meantime, by the way, also the third and youngest entity from the Huusari-clan, Mikko, joined the band.
After a European tour and some new recruitments, Soulwound eventually entered the studio for the recording of the sophomore full length studio album, No Peace. As a five-piece, they recorded forty minutes of timeless and universal Thrash Metal, smoothly balancing in between the origins of the Old School scene, and the renovative aspects of the contemporary (European) scene. Actually, No Peace continues where Seeing Red ended. Fast and heavy rhythms challenge the whole of the time, leaving no room for compromises. Yet then again, compromises are present when talking about the nicely balanced interaction of all different and individual actors. And the word ‘individual’ must not be seen as a collection of separated elements. With this I do mean that the whole experience appears like a one-directional goal, being created to hit, to smash, to destroy and to conquer.
The voice of new singer Arto Jauho is quite firm, rather of the screaming-grunting kind instead of hoarse-melodious, yet it might be the sole (or at least the main) reference to the Death Metal scene. Crafted riffage and pounding rhythms (the latter including hammering drums and overpowering strings, from both guitar and bass) are melted into a whirlwind-driven substance, injected by those higher mentioned voice, and spiced by quite some grandiose guitar solos, being as sharp as ingeniously performed. The totality of the arrangements results in a cohesive outlet, courtesy of the Huusari brothers and the other members of the tribe.
For a Thrash album, I need to mention the diversity going on. It does not just go for the vocals (screams, growls, grunts, yells and shouts), nor the intense solos, nor the variation in tempo (though speed-up fastness surely is the main keyword; only sporadically there is a point of relative rest, a moment of deceleration, yet without losing the initial energy and power), yet also seen from point of composition and structure, there might be more depth and diversification than before. Experience creates craftsmanship, that’s clear.
Another nice progression is the growth of the technical performance. Still the basics are inspired by the classic elements of the scene (why not anyway?), but to my opinion the technical evolution is quite remarkable. Especially the riffs and bass passages are subdued to this progression, while the drums remain focussing on the essence of the ‘source’: harshly-supportive and with that vile and violent taking-no-prisoners attitude.
For fans of: well, everything à la early Pestilence (the technical excellence), Sepultura (late-eighties era), fellow-countrymen Stone, By Night and Inrage; even Testament and Fear Factory(*)-fans might be pleased…
(*): ‘soulwound’ and Fear Factory… It can not be a coincidence, can it?...