Soul Cycle
Soul Cycle II


4.5
superb

Review

by Thompson D. Gerhart STAFF
April 25th, 2012 | 32 replies | 9,926 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Mark Hawkins and Chris Catharsis continue to improve on the innovative sound of Soul Cycle by throwing in a few new tricks and employing many of the underground's finest.

For as many catastrophic failures as the cult of Meshuggah known as "djent" has given us, there have been a formidable cluster of success stories, and Soul Cycle's latest release, simply titled Soul Cycle II encapsulates all of them. With Soul Cycle's eponymous 2010 debut, guitarists Mark Hawkins and Chris Catharsis cemented themselves as innovators in the then-emerging subgenre by applying melody and structure to what was quickly becoming a sound entirely centered around monotonous down-tuned, palm muted riffs (with the plural of "riff" being used quite lightly).

However, with Soul Cycle II, the duo have changed things up a bit - giving the album a bit more of a "free reign" sound between tracks while still making sure that the screws have been fully-tightened, the tone highly polished, and the sound heavier than ever. Much of this can be attributed to the collaborative nature of the album. As far back as 2011, Hawkins and Catharsis had decided to include at least one guest solo by a guitarist prominent in the online djent scene. And indeed, Soul Cycle II not only accomplishes, but surpasses that lofty collaborative goal by including a minimum of two guest musicians per track. From solo masterminds David Maxim Micic ("Instar / Soul: Reborn") and Jakub Zytecki ("Evolutia") to longtime Hawkins collaborator Vishal J. Singh ("Transcendence") and more, each guitarist adds a sprinkling of their own style to pieces which maintain the hallmark speed, heavy polyrhythms, constant melodious overtones, and blistering solos that made Soul Cycle a landmark success.

But even given an old formula for success and a few tricks thrown in by well-known guests, Soul Cycle II still manages to surprise at multiple intervals. "Cast Down," for example, begins with a staple polyrhythm which finds lead melodies rising around it in no time flat. For anyone familiar with Soul Cycle, it's relatively easy to pick out when solos will begin and end, and there's no shame in that - since they've got the power to back up the predictability and carry the track. However, the real gem chimes in at the end, when a final chord unexpectedly fades out into an entrancingly complex yet harmonious looped tap riff. Similar surprises come in such terms as "Ethereal"'s slower paced, reverb-reliant tone, the blast-beat intro to "Distant Skies," and the tribal-sounding, bass-heavy opening to "Instar / Soul:Reborn."

While it would be simple enough for Catharsis and Hawkins to make Soul Cycle II an updated carbon copy of their debut, these additions keep their sound even more tantalizingly fresh and interesting than a simpler sequel could ever be. While the album has its few shortcomings - generally rooted in a few longer-than-necessary chug breaks and a reduction in flow from track to track from the previous album - the benefits of this approach far outweigh the negative aspects, and perhaps even give the duo an opportunity to tune things up just a little more for the next album. But while future collaborations between Catharsis and Hawkins seem to shine brighter and brighter, in 2012, Soul Cycle II has still easily set the benchmark for instrumental metal and progressive metal alike. Take heed, djentlemen!



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Comments:Add a Comment 
AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
April 25th 2012



1985 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Up for download here - http://soulcyclemetal.bandcamp.com/album/soul-cycle-ii

Definitely worth your time.

BugZoid
April 25th 2012



331 Comments


Good job on the review man. I'm actually a bit baffled that I have yet to hear about these dudes, but I will certainly check them out now. Great meat and potatoes type of review. No dicking around with unneeded factoids.

Funeralopolis
April 25th 2012



11210 Comments


so many of these kinds of bands being pumped out left and right

Digging: Banks - London

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
April 25th 2012



1985 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Bug - thanks man! That's how I try to roll.

Funeral - These guys are legit, though. And this is their second album (obviously). Soul Cycle the original was also the bomb.

bowlofsoup
April 25th 2012



1073 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I liked the first album, and you're making this sound better. I'll definitely be checking this out. Pos'd

zaruyache
April 25th 2012



6235 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Their first album ruled and what I've heard from this record so far has at least been of similar quality.

Digging: Emerald Weapon - Part II: Earth Encrypted

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
May 14th 2012



10056 Comments


There are so many guest musicians on this one it's insaaaane.

Digging: The Contortionist - Language

zaruyache
June 1st 2012



6235 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I think this album is superior to the first, actually. It has a ton more influences and styles used than the first, which keeps it fresh and surprising.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
June 1st 2012



10056 Comments


Ethereal is incredible but I don't remember aaaany of the other tracks

Yazz_Flute
November 8th 2012



18770 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is really good for what it's worth.

Digging: Eskaton - 4 Visions

johnnydeking29
January 17th 2013



9012 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

So, this rules face

Digging: Envy - A Dead Sinking Story

johnnydeking29
January 21st 2013



9012 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Like, ridiculously; so many awesome moments

CaptainDooRight
January 25th 2013



28812 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

really good

Digging: Tukaaria - Raw to the Rapine

johnnydeking29
January 25th 2013



9012 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Can't even start to decide what the best song is

CaptainDooRight
January 25th 2013



28812 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

hard

johnnydeking29
January 25th 2013



9012 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Reject Humanity, Ethereal, One Fleeting Moment and Break the Cycle are probs the best

CaptainDooRight
January 25th 2013



28812 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

swet

Chortles
January 25th 2013



17944 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

this album is cool

VisceralUproar
January 30th 2013



161 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I love the featurings on this album, especially by Cloudkicker.

johnnydeking29
January 31st 2013



9012 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Which did he feature on?



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