Soulbender - Soulbender II

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The new release from Queensrÿche guitarist Michael Wiltern's side-project is an EP disguised as a remastered album. Soulbender's debut was released in ten years ago, but received very limited distribution through Licking Lava Records, and is now long out of print. For anyone who didn't get one of those original copies, Soulbender II, gaining wider release via Rat Pak Records, provides excellent value for money as it contained all ten tracks from that original album, newly remastered, in addition to four brand new songs. Owners of the first album may feel less enthusiastic about paying album price for four songs, though. The four new songs are all at the beginning of this new disc, and mix Wiltern's trademark style of highlighting riffs - which aren't as chunky as the old material - with lead melodies with Nick Pollock's (My Sister's Machine) Rich Lewis-meets-John Corabi vocals, the pick of which is the Union-esque Slave To Reality. There's a noticeable disjoint between the new and old tracks, as the remaster job hasn't been able to un-muddy the guitars enough on the old tracks to make them sound as clear as the new ones - although Pollock's vocals sound crisper - but they do sound better than the original version, and show a different side to Wiltern's playing with heavier, thicker riffs. For anyone who missed out on the original Soulbender album, this is worth picking up to hear Michael play something altogether grungier than Queensrÿche. It's difficult to justify for people who already own it though, as the new tracks are good, but aren't mind-blowing.

Written by Andy Lye
More: 2014, Albums, Hard/Heavy Rock, Quick.Play Reviews, Re-release,

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