Review Summary: With the release of Ripe/Rot, Sohns has proven themselves much more than just another faceless "band to watch" in the coming year.
Whether you loved it or hated it, you'd be hard pressed to argue that Sohns' debut full length, To Ward It Off And Drown It Out
was forgettable. Fitting somewhere in between the intricacy and overblown chaos of 90's era screamo and the basic intensity of modern hardcore, the manic energy, tight musicianship, and fluid songwriting found on To Ward It Off...
, alongside vocalist Alex Mendez's arresting shrieking, made for a wholly unique debut, albeit one that was potentially hard to digest. Now over a year and a half separated from their debut, Sohns is arguably more focused and purpose driven than before, in spite of (or maybe because of) rotations in both the guitar and bass departments.
From the moment that the pummeling groove of opener "Soul Train Blues of the Broken Skull" sets in, it's immediately apparent that Ripe/Rot
is almost an entirely different animal than their debut. Where To Ward It Off...
had a slight tendency to get tripped up over its own perpetual forward momentum before catching up to itself, nearly every musical step that Sohns takes on Ripe/Rot
feels purposive and deliberate without seeming contrived or overwrought. However, that's not to say that Ripe/Rot
lacks any of the intensity of their debut. The aggressive guitar and bass work, courtesy of new additions Jc Rodriguez and Luis Trevino, come together to produce a consistently crushing wall of sound while still retaining a sense of mobility, evidenced by the shift from the explosive melodicism of "Abomination" to the discordant bursts of closer "Soul Salvation", all the while being held together by drumwork that maintains impressive technicality while staying on point. Also, detractors of previous Sohns outings will (maybe) be happy to note that Mendez's vocal work has undergone a great deal of change, displaying a number of mid ranged roars to balance out the howling.
In just under 10 minutes, Sohns manages to simultaneously cover more musical ground than they did on their debut, and remain more focused and deliberate in the midst of it. If Ripe/Rot
is any indication of things to come, Sohns may very well find themselves spearheading the next wave of bands to explode out of the burgeoning post-hardcore scene. What's more, Sohns may just have what it takes to withstand this recent cycle of almost instantaneous popularity and swift decline and become a mainstay of the modern realm of punk music. Only time will tell.