rating icon 7.5 / 10

Track listing:

01. Breaking Me Down
02. Halo
03. Need to Feel
04. Wide Open
05. Understanding Me
06. My Own
07. Unreal
08. Inside Out
09. Two Skins
10. The One
11. New Faith
12. Why
13. Black

It doesn't seem all that long ago that Chicago's SOIL were struggling to get themselves heard amid a sea of LIMP BIZKIT and KORN wannabes whose musical output was deemed far more “marketable” than the southern rock-tinged sounds practiced by the Illinois quintet. All that changed when a radio programmer in Orlando, Florida, Pat Lynch of active rock station WJRR, started spinning a demo version of SOIL's song “Halo” (taken from an August 2000 three-tracker),and propelled it to hit proportions in the local area, in the process sparking a label battle that was ultimately won by J Records (headed by former Arista head honcho Clive Davis).


SOIL's second full-length offering, Scars is essentially a continuation of the sound first heard on the group's 1999 debut album, Throttle Junkies (issued via the now-defunct MIA Records and produced by none other than Steve Albini of the NIRVANA, PLANT & PAGE, and NEUROSIS fame),but with a more streamlined, focused approach, which has ultimately rendered SOIL's material more commercial than was the case in the past. The production, handled this time around by DISTURBED/MACHINE HEAD knob-twiddler Johnny K (who was also at the helm for the aforementioned demo),is sterling, and the material is consistently strong, if not all-out amazing, with most of the tracks revolving around the excellent guitar work of former BROKEN HOPE/SINDROME bassist Shaun Glass and Adam Zadel and the raspy, throaty delivery of vocalist Ryan McCombs, who has lost nearly all of his blatant Layne Staley-isms that had plagued his style earlier in the group's career.


Despite strong backing from J, it's hard to see SOIL making a breakthrough at a time when a sugar-coated brand of pimprock and a more eclectic form of nu-metal seems to be ruling the rock airwaves. Having said that, SOIL have made an impressive album that deserves to be heard, and with a bit of luck on their side, they could very well be the band to beat the odds.

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