We were going to mention it at some point so I’ve decided to get it done early doors. SOiL’s signature song is so good that it towers above them like a colossus, it probably even annoys them how good it is.
There’s another reason for mentioning it too, mind you. It has a distinct sound. Downtuned, almost dirty and in Ryan McCombs, they have a singer that’s more Phil Anselmo than Myles Kennedy. All of which means that when I read about “Play It Forward” – their first album for almost a decade – I did wonder how they were going to do it.
“It” in this case, is write a covers record. Especially when you factor in the not unreasonable point that some of the songs you wouldn’t imagine they could pull off. That they do is credit to them, but also down to one thing: They do it by sounding like SOiL.
There’s some songs on here everyone’s going to know. They start with one “Runnin’ Down A Dream”. Forget Tom Petty. This sounds like a Chicago rock band from the turn of the century. There’s “Monkey Wrench”, the Foos thing. Which sounds like….well, you get the point. And there’s a huge anthem. “Rockin’ In The Free World”. Everyone’s done this from Bon Jovi to The Almighty. That SOIL put their own stamp on it is to their credit.
Then there’s some songs that I love. Genuine favourites of mine. I know I am meant to think Petty is a legend, that the Foos are awesome and that Neil Young is God incarnate, but I was more excited about White Zombie’s “Thunder Kiss 65”. Prong’s “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck” and Helmet’s “Unsung”, I admit. And the trio are superbly done. The latter’s choppy riffing doesn’t half suit what SOiL do in particular.
Then there’s a third section. The songs I’d never heard by the artist’s I’d never heard of. And honestly, isn’t that the point of these albums really? A voyage of discovery. I didn’t know Halsey or “Nightmare” but I’ve had a listen, as you should, and what was Billie Eillish esque pop definitely isn’t here.
The ballad “What’s It Like” is probably the best one. Everlast’s track is spat with such bile that I’ll have to listen to the artist (granted he’s had 132m streams of the song on Spotify so it may only be me that isn’t aware of him).
Credit to them for the choices too. “No Voices In The Sky” isn’t the Motorhead track you’d have guessed, and they do it justice and if both “I Wanna Be Sedated” and “Black Betty” are staples of this type of thing, they still work. The latter in particular isn’t arsed with any notion of “blues” and instead is a great slab of rapid fire concrete block riffery.
Ultimately “Play It Forward” isn’t going to change any lives. It’s the sort of things bands used to stick out as b-sides but whilst on one hand the internet has killed music, lets not pretend you won’t just stream this anyway.
It’s fun, it’s well done and it’s just good to have SOiL back. That halo isn’t slipping just yet.