"Souls At Zero" (Energy Records; 1993)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Although this was a debut for Souls At Zero (circa 1993), it was not the first record for the band - the band had previously recorded three albums under the moniker Wrathchild America. The name change from Wrathchild America was necessary when the band decided to go national; Souls At Zero was chosen over Wrathchild America which was lacking a certain element in the "coolness" factor.

Souls At Zero always walked a genre tightrope. They were ahead of the curve in terms of playing metal that avoided clichés and trends while still pushing the envelope of the medium without getting lumped into the progressive category. During this time Souls At Zero managed to avoid the lure of grunge and kept their sound true to their metal brethren. Many of the riffs on this disc remind me of Metallica's "Black" disc while still retaining the complexity of "... And Justice For All." One of the best features of the disc is the complete absence of any ballads!

The dual guitar attack of Abbene and Carter no doubt help propel the band's songs to satisfying heights. Employing a blue-collar approach Abbene and Carter apply their meaty riffs to the songs with gusto. Both Abbene and Carter took cues from past guitar heroes yet had their minds squarely in the '90s. The songs are a blend of vintage hard rock and thrash flavors. Guitar solos are in abundance which is reason enough to find the time to listen to the melodic runs over the charging riffs.

"Lost" stands particularly well as it is made from a different mold of hard rock song writing. The twisting "Checkin' Out" also stands out as a tune that makes significant improvement over early '90s metal pretenders. The song "Souls At Zero" shows remarkable restraint by settling into a mid-paced groove that makes the complex seem not so threatening. "Welcome To The 90s" is also particularly strong selection in that it combines propulsive bass with taut guitar riffs into a serious yet also light look at these strange modern times. "Mind's Eye" is an appealing blend of slow burning metal riffs and tortured vocals.

This self titled debut was produced by band members Brad Divens and Jay Abbene; associate production provided by Drew Mazurek. The overall sound quality of the disc is quite decent. It may lack the effervescent "crunch" that is desired by radio, but the tone is rock solid.

Souls At Zero: Brad Divens (bass and vocals), Jay Abbene (guitar), Terry Carter (guitar), and Shannon Larkin (drums); the band is now defunct. Divens had spent time playing guitar in Kix and more recently produced tracks for the "ECW: Extreme Music" disc (click here to read our review). Abbene has since moved behind the mixing board and has mastered music for Glenmont Popes. Larkin has spent some time in the drum seat with Ugly Kid Joe.

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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Revised: 11 Sep 2022 13:46:21 -0400 .