01. Mental Acupuncture
02. Blessed In The Arms Of Servitude
03. In The Same Breath
06. Rock Paper Scissors
07. Superstition Aimed At One's Skull
08. For Lack Of Perfect Words
09. When All Roads Lead To Rome
10. All This Good Intention Wasted In The Wake Of Apathy
11. A Pale Horse And The Story Of The End
2008 Metal Blade Records
In the interest of writing a review that avoids coming off as a series of hollow platitudes, I will refrain from describing Soilent Green's latest offering with any of the oft-repeated superlatives that evoke either the South, so-called "Southern metal," bogs, swampiness, swamps in general, the bayou, New Orleans, or the proud state of Louisiana. Instead, I begin with a long quote by singer Ben Falgoust, which, in my opinion, best illustrates the rather outspoken theme of Inevitable Collapse in the Presence of Conviction:
"It's the basic idea of no hope... Everybody is always picturing things with a happy ending, but life's not always like that. Every individual out there gets to a point where they feel they've struggled to a point and never got anything out of it... Sometimes, even when you put your all into something and work hard, things don't always work out in the end. That's just the way life falls sometimes."
Based loosely on a series of unfortunate events that befell the band in recent years (the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina, the death of two former bandmates, plus a laundry list of incapacitating personal injuries), Inevitable Collapse in the Presence of Conviction is Soilent Green's latest spirited attempt at distilling the essence of triumph and tragedy into a blast-laden whirlwind of hyper-technical, crusty death-grind.
Musically, Soilent Green have not strayed far from from the formula typified by their 1998 release, Sewn Mouth Secrets; from start to finish, Inevitable Collapse... is a chaotic assault of buzzsaw death-grind that weaves in and out of bluesy, suffocatingly sludgy, down-tuned Eyehategod/Sabbath riffage with more than a few crusty, d-beat hardcore breakdowns thrown in for good measure. Soilent Green are one of few bands I have heard that can take what is essentially a Sabbath riff, mess with all the time signatures, add some blast beats, and in doing so, imbue it with a sense of vitality (and ferocity) that would make Tony Iommi proud. Each song is like a gaudy trophy case brimming with brutal riffs that are seamlessly linked with manic time changes and the frenetic, tighter-than-tight drumming of Tommy Buckley. The sheer velocity with which guitarist Brian Patton is able to circumnavigate the fretboard is astounding; from pummeling the listener with a sludgy, "Hand of Doom" inspired riff, Pattton will launch into a frenzied salvo of death-grind guitar heroics.
Songs like "Lovesick," opening with a riff that echoes the Sabbath-fueled sludge of Eyehategod's seminal release "Dopesick", left me, horns in the air, absolutely yearning for an ice-cold twelver of Abita Amber. As usual, Ben Falgoust's vocals are the perfect counterpoint to the music; aggressive, piercing, and unsettling in their intensity. His lyrics truly capture a profound sense of disappointment and hopelessness. Finally, Soilent Green have continued to indulge their "softer" side by featuring some rather arcadian acoustic ditties between songs, which, in addition to providing some welcomed respite from the aural assault that is the majority of the record, bring to mind both a sense of mourning as well as a cautious (if not misguided, given the outspoken theme of Inevitable Collapse...) form of optimism.
Erik Rutan's recording nicely captures the crispness and razor-sharp quality of the riffs without detracting from the dirty, down-tuned wall of sludge that makes Soilent Green's forays into doom-inspired Sabbath impersonations so incredibly heavy. On a decidedly different note, for Inevitable Collapse... Soilent Green have eschewed what I found to be a rather keen sense for that which is aesthetically appealing, instead opting for artwork that is very comical and puzzling given the nature of the music. John Van Fleet's science-fiction (Final Fantasy Halo Transformers) inspired CGI renderings are a far cry from the stunning artwork of Czechoslovakian painter Alfons Mucha, whose work adorned the cover of Soilent Green's A String of Lies EP.
Inevitable Collapse... did leave me feeling slightly disappointed, not because it wasn't a thoroughly entertaining and insanely complex record, but because it lacked the frenetic intensity and punch that made "Sewn Mouth Secrets" so memorable. What made "Sewn Mouth Secrets" so amazing was that is served as a triumphant debut of the sound that would later come to define Soilent Green as a band. Since then, it seems as though all of their releases have been, essentially, more of the same bitchin' (although, at times, tired) formula for success, albeit slightly different lyrical content.
Bottom Line: Misgivings aside, "Inevitable Collapse..." is a solid record, one that leaves the listener reeling from its intensity and in awe of the musicianship captured therein.