A storm has been brewing in Hudson Valley. Away from the city smoke, the orchard-friendly neighbourhood is cultivating a whole batch of hardcore upstarts. Mindforce are the metallic thrash / punk crossover featuring veterans of the scene, and Age Of Apocalypse are bringing gothic bellows to beatdown friendly tracks.
Elsewhere in the region is Soul Blind, a quartet transfixed in a haze of ‘90s alt-rock, a time where grunge and shoegaze reigned supreme. They wear one influence on the right sleeve, the other on the left, and recapture the youthful spirit of it all wholeheartedly. After all, the sounds of youth for the aging hardcore-minded often feature fuzzy, distorted guitars with bleating emo lyrics about failed relationships and the struggles of upcoming maturity.
Soul Blind have cultivated their own brand of just that in the challenging lead up to recording Feel It All Around. In fitting with that title, it’s steeped in setting the atmosphere, whether that be clinging to a comfortable nostalgia or longing to embrace pastures new. After all, it features the staple chordal sequences, ringing leads and chant-worthy vocals that have an almost nü-grunge feel (is that a thing?), championed by Militarie Gun or Drug Church, who actually share lead-lick writer Nick Cogan. Go figure.
I digress. Seventh Hell bursts out of the blocks with sweatbands, studded belts and ripped jeans. The core-kid intro plays into a nostalgic letting loose of chugs and panic chords, but reigns itself in with a morose feeling rather than all-out anger. The sustaining vocal performance from bassist Cen is a hallmark making up a large part of the warm wall of noise the band emits. That heady mixture of heavy low end and wafting, anthemic birdsong is from the Deftones textbook, but here transposed to a more free-spirited setting.
That merged, layered effect of each instrument in perfect harmony comes further courtesy of Bruise The Sore, a melodic sing-worthy crowd favourite as displayed in a recent hate5six video document: the stamp of approval for any up-and-coming live band in or adjacent to punk and hardcore. Further punchy bass, captured equally well in a live setting for Tribe, sounds great in the mix. The production sounds mega across the whole darn thing, with Will Yip’s genre-wide knowledge and acclaimed discography credits paying dividends. Mainly, it’s added gloss to a band that had already well achieved the considered song construction process through such excellent releases as Third Chain.
Soul Blind’s chordal sequences and echoey vocal takes act as a smoky landscape that are delightful enough to get lost amongst, but the band hit the nail the hardest when occasional chopping through the comforting blanket. Piercing leads, little breaks of tasteful feedback, and washing the sound just a smidge with effects pedals does just the trick. The lead melodies make the memorable part of Stuck In The Loop, and the more nuanced introduction to Ain’t Hard To Tell. When Everyday Evil gets almost dipped into a serene lake for its second verse in a sensitive moment, it rebuilds itself to a pounding chord-stab chorus. It’s like a grunge rocker’s baptism. Even as the record’s short breather moment, Sparkle features tinny drums, fuzzy crackles and flange effects that are a time machine to ‘90s bliss.
The sound doesn’t quite reinvent the wheel, but in the same way that Balance And Composure’s heartfelt emo-tinged rock endures through its relatability, Soul Blind looks to recapture moods that we all experience through reflective apprehension, both sonically and lyrically. It’s potentially a returning point for future cravings of nostalgia, but that’s what sets certain emo records apart from the rest, whatever their looks ‘n’ feels at the time.
For fans of: Balance And Composure, Smashing Pumpkins, Superheaven
‘Feel It All Around’ by Soul Blind is released on 11th November on Other People Records.
Words by Elliot Burr