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Writings On the Wall

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Album Review

Crash Music has a reputation for releasing a lot of go-for-the-jugular music — vicious metalcore, vicious death metal, vicious black metal, vicious grindcore. But the Phoenix, AZ-based company has also put out its share of more nuanced recordings (some of them by power metal revival bands), and the word nuanced easily describes this 2006 release by Souls Harbor. Writings on the Wall is, by 2006 standards, one of Crash's more mainstream releases; this darkly introspective outing clearly doesn't cater to the extreme metal underground. That is not to say that Writings on the Wall is adult contemporary or easy listening by any means; Souls Harbor rocks aggressively, sometimes getting into alternative metal but frequently favoring more of a post-grunge approach. Sevendust are a definite influence; "For Me," for example, packs a funky alterna-metal punch that has Sevendust written all over it. But generally, Souls Harbor aren't as heavy as Sevendust, and many of their brooding, darkly introspective songs are more post-grunge than alterna-metal. In other words, Writings on the Wall reminds listeners that — after all these years — there can still be a fine line between hard rock and metal. The pre-Nevermind '70s and '80s were full of bands that were relevant to both hard rock and metal, and that continued after Nirvana and Pearl Jam dramatically rearranged the rock landscape in the early '90s. One can say with certainty that Creed and 3 Doors Down are not alternative metal (their albums are strictly post-grunge/alternative hard rock) and that Korn and Slipknot are strictly alternative metal, but Souls Harbor exemplify the type of band that falls into both categories. The derivative Writings on the Wall won't go down in history as the most original release of 2006, but it's a decent and well-crafted effort from this Southern combo.

Writings On the Wall, Souls Harbor
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