Review: Smile Empty Soul – Shapeshifter

The Smile Empty Soul fans were the biggest inspiration for making and releasing this special EP/DVD collection.  The self titled debut has been caught up in ‘Red Tape’ and unavailable both digitally and physically for years due to past label disputes. Fans were constantly asking the band why that album isn’t available, and the band wants to give those fans what they’ve been asking for, but also provide some new material and classic DVD footage“. So with that cleared up, let’s get to the new songs… “All In My Head” still has that grunge sound but mixed with a 90s punk attitude. The fact that the band is now down to three members has had no effect on their sound and Sean’s vocals are spot on from the mopey to the aggressive he captures it all perfectly. “Running Out Of Something” is a more up to date sound, it is huge and all encompassing and the vocals always takes me back to Chester Bennington. You can feel the power in the voice, even on the low end it is like a Harley plodding along at 20MPH…but you know that monster can roar. “Just One Place” has a great intro, just drums and a low flicker of guitar. The vocals are harmonic and rounded and it is just a tad different from the guys. The aggression is changed to pent up anger and you are just waiting for a verbal assault which never quite comes. Now onto the older songs, which will still be new songs to a lot of people, and these songs will show you why the band took off in 2003 and why the debut went gold in 2005. Yes it was the tail end of Grunge, yes they did have part of that sound, but these older songs were about so much more. “Silhouettes” merges Grunge and country to my ears, throw in some Southern and you are almost there. You can say this song hits on the Mummy/Daddy issues but you need to delve deeper. There is a very strong message that the screaming vocal tries to get through to you.It is young men reflecting and looking to the future. I would love to know what the guys feel about the message they were portraying back then and how things have turned out now. “Nowhere Kids” was born in the 70s in run down Central London. The attitude and angry vibe is punk through and through. One of my favourite SES songs of all time. I think the content may be lost on kids of this technical age these days. If it was written today I am sure it would be called zombie kids. Now to another classic and ” Bottom Of A Bottle”. This was the edgy, angry songwriting that put the band above the rest. They were switched on kids that is for sure. They recognised the world around them and what they had to do to release themselves from the drudgery. This EP may not have satiated my thirst for Smile Empty Soul but it sure as hell put them back on my radar and I hope the troubles are behind them. Hopefully a full length release and good fortunes are waiting. I for one will be watching. Review Ritchie Birnie  ]]>

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