It’s easy to reduce SOON to superficial contradictions. After all, who would’ve thought singer/guitarist Stuart McLamb and drummer Thomas Simpson of indie stars The Love Language would emerge with this righteously heavy offshoot?
However SOON’s Vol. 1 debut, set for release via Temple Of Torturous this March, quickly dissolves the easy narrative of acclaimed popsmith taking the left hand path toward heavy metal. What’s more obvious is the immediate chemistry between McLamb and Simpson, bassist Rob Walsh (Bitter Resolve) and guitarist Mark Connor (Grohg).
Though SOON employs the heavy, distorted riffing and contemplative pacing of doom, the band shares none of the genre’s antagonistic, abyss-gazing tropes. It’s dynamic, melodic and adventurous. The Chapel Hill, North Carolina-based quartet pulled from a deep well of influence and experience in crafting its eight-song LP. SOON spent a concentrated week of revising and tracking, plus two months of tinkering, at the Greensboro studio Legitimate Business with engineer Kris Hilbert (Torch Runner, Between The Buried And Me, The Body) at the helm.
If SOON has a signature, it’s the unlikely pairing of heavy doom and elegant melody. Simpson and Walsh conjure storms in the low-end, while McLamb and Connor balance mettle and melody, shading these songs with psych-rock textures and melodic finesse. Rather than using their low, slow riffs as dredging sinkholes, deliberate momentum turns meditative—with strong forward pushes devoid of any dead weight. Airy melody and psychedelic flourishes keep these songs nimble and even pop-oriented. The balance of power and grace evokes more triumph than decay, but never sacrifices its grand heft. Standout tracks “We Are On Your Side” and “See You Soon” are bursting affirmations that ride heavy groundswell for a powerful uplift. Eager to push their boundaries, “Mauveine” is a stately dirge that uses sparse acoustic strums and somber strings to showcase McLamb’s rich croon. While “Rise” summons a deep otherworldly drone to form a foundation for a funereal incantation.
SOON is undoubtedly a departure from any of its members’ past efforts, but the band’s casual formation and openness to exploration yields a compelling new entity. SOON’s enveloping debut is as much a product of deliberate focus as it is the offspring of laid-back jam sessions and weekend cookouts. [words by Bryan C. Reed]