The debut Soldierfield EP, Bury The Ones We Love, really captured my imagination when it was released a couple of years back, these young UK Metallers able to combine an old school attack to modern ideals, via an aggressive, yet considered approach. Put simply, if it ain't broke, don't fix it and so it's no surprise that Catharsis is more of the same. Well I say, the same, and yet what I really mean is that this (at time of recording, they now have bassist Wayne Banks onboard) four-piece have used the same framework as a base while showing that they've grown as a band and I'd also suggest as songwriters. It's not as though Catharsis is suddenly some Progressive, Jazz Fusion workout, far from it for we are in the land of riff, riff and more riff here. However with varying song introductions and the ability to change focus during an all out assault, Soldierfield have been able to round off their sound from ATTAAACK!!!! to a more considered advance, which actually gets closer to their mission's objective.
It comes as no shock that the standout aspect of the Metallica meets Furyon, via an updated The Almighty, is the guitar pair of Steve Wray and Andy Trott, their thick slabs of fret thrashing ably backed by the ever pounding Jeff Singer on drums. Sample the steamrollering "The Light", the spiralling almost Alice In Chains with the guitars cranked of "Beautiful Lie", or machine gun drummed "Burn Bright" for proof. All three bristle with a vicious intensity and yet whether straining every sinew, or bringing everything down a notch, singer Leigh Oates infuses each if these strident bursts with a focal point that stops the barrage from becoming overwhelming.
With a name like Soldierfield, you'd be disappointed if the lyrics on Catharsis weren't based round war and battles and yet as the album title suggests, the sentiment is more of loss, futility and anguish, than the celebratory sabre rattling of Sabaton. Showing the aforementioned maturity, "Ghosts" takes its foot off the pedal marked distortion, a slow introspective track offering a clever mid-album change of focus. The guitars do burn as the song grows, but in terms of altering dynamics, it's job done, while "New Religion" hits with the sort of mid-paced thunder that The Almighty used to specialise in. Add in "Cut The Ties", which closes the album in reflective mode, becoming one the most effective moments on show as it does and Catharsis has many sides to appreciate. Although even with all the clever variance on show, it is still the hard hitting "Monochrome" which sticks in the mind longest, Oates ever varying vocal attack perfect, Singer's percussion blasts outstanding.
With Bury The Ones We Love, many, myself included, suggested that this new outfit were a band to watch. With Catharsis they've only gone and proved us right. Therefore, I've no hesitation in declaring that along with Absolva, Soldierfield have delivered an album vying for the title of best UK Metal album of the year.
1. The Light
2. Beautiful Lie
3. The Only War
4. Burn Bright
7. New Religion
9. Nothing Left
10. Cut the Ties
Added: November 22nd 2014
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Soldierfield online
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