Soldierfield – Catharsis

Rating: 3.5/5
Distributor/label: Metalbox Recordings
Distributor/label URL: http://metalboxrecordings.com/
Released: 2014
Band website: http://www.soldierfieldband.co.uk/
Buy Album [URL]: www.soldierfieldband.co.uk/merchandise.php

Soldierfield - Catharsis Soldierfield – Catharsis

Band Line-up:

Vocals – Leigh Oates
Guitar – Andy Trott
Guitar – Steve Wray
Bass – Wayne Banks
Drums – Jeff Singer

Tracklist:

1. The Light
2. Beautiful Lie
3. The Only War
4. Burn Bright
5. Monochrome
6. Ghosts
7. New Religion
8. Catharsis
9. Nothing Left
10. Cut The Ties

Review:

While many have been waiting in earnest for a follow up to the band’s acclaimed EP release from back in 2012 ‘Bury the Ones we Love’, UK melodic metallers Soldierfield have made their highly anticipated return with debut album, ‘Catharsis’.

The band came to be in late 2011 when current guitarist Andy Trott first partnered up with bassist Simon Priestland, before bringing on board the lyrical and vocal prowess of former Rise to Addiction front-man, Leigh Oates. The emerging demo that came off the back of that sparked a small furore for the band in the underground metal scene, which then led to them being signed up by Metalbox Records.

From the subsequent EP release, a flavourful and rich essence emerged from the more complete line-up including ex-Paradise Lost drummer Jeff Singer and another Rise to Addiction member in guitarist Steve Wray, who also produced both records. Having known Wray and Singer from their days in BLAZE together, bassist Wayne Banks also came into the fold. Having gained some notoriety from appearances at SOS festival and support slots with Black Night Burns and Sinnergod, Soldierfield have been noted as saying they wanted to capture the ferocity of their live performances in their upcoming installment.

The record comprises itself with multifaceted layers, with readily exposed explosive qualities on it’s exterior but also a satisfying level of subtlety and intricacy laced throughout. What appears on the surface to serve solely to ignite and barrage the aural senses with well-tempered emotion, over time then proceeds to unveil it’s depth and potency.

The intrigue is perhaps one that is lost on a casual listener as I found first impressions of the album heavily coated in ambivalence. The sound that the band have forged can be described as one that is as deceptively familiar as it is simultaneously distinctive. While at first seeming to bear all the hallmarks of that well of disappointment you’ve been tricked into falling into several times before, something demands you peer in for a second look and before you know it, a fish is making off with your wallet.

The opening riffs that erupt in ‘The Light’ do so with an invasive elegance in their virulent disdain, that scythe their way through passive conscience. Beneath that, a rhythmically intensive symbiosis resonating between bass and drums, draped over with impassioned vocals, counteract the overtly bland chorus sections to put together a performance that is as rampant as it is resourceful.

While much of the record rigorously strides across the same hire-rise plateau set out by the album’s openers, varying opportunities for originality emerge that gives ‘Catharsis’ a more well rounded and narrative progression. There isn’t really any definable reason for feelings of familiarity, but the guile stems from a volatile but mesmeric atmosphere that is brawling at moments and transfixing at others with real fluidity. The subtle weave is seamless, a twisting character of acidic invention. Moments of melody scattered through the record emanate like a daydream, taking on a new direction of sombreness before being devoured by a more sinister or turbulent atmosphere.

It’s clear Soldierfield are a band with substance and have formulated an essence of their own invention. The band’s intention to replicate a live sounding performance may not have been fully realised, ironically thanks to some well polished production, but there is plenty of morbidly anthemic material here to make for some exciting live performances for sure. Worthy of note, there a moments in ‘The Only War’ which bear a stark resemblance to Madonna’s 80’s croon ‘La Isla Bonita’. But heavier. It’s actually pretty good.

Review by Chris Brown
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