CD Review

Soulscape – “Grave New World”

By Marcus Pan

Grave New WorldAll the finest elements of moody, powerful, anthem-reaching gothic rock are here on Grave New World. Moody electronic trance-like openings that spread into wall of sound post-punk drums and well laced bass and guitar working together to support a strong voice with dark lyrics and creepy innuendos. Soulscape, looking quite boring in its red on black type case, picture of a crying angel statue on its cover, stereotypical band photo with shining lights blasting over their well laid hair and dark staring this another band trying to go all Sisterlike?

Hats off to bassist Sam Ruppert for finding his niche here...keeping his work on bass well played and with just enough complication to stand out without overshadowing his own keyboards and the guitars of Michael Verzani. We have Mel Draper on vocals, looking elven with his perfect hair and pallid demeanor. No sign of a drummer – but all three have some level of "programming" credits on Grave new World, so they must come from there.

From the opening First Blood with its long, moody and getting-you-in-a-dark mood programmed opening that shreds into percussion straight out of the nearest gates to Hell, and You are My Disease lays on very heavy handed keyboard work over top of which is laid what could be either a guitar or more keys. For the most part their work blends well, but occasionally get so busy as to be nearly messy...You are My Disease being one of these possible pitfalls.

Mel's strong bass/baritone vocals betray his otherwise shimmery and elvish appearance. Power ballad Rise Again is dangerously sweet with a moving and swift percussion. I find myself impressed yet again with the crisp, clean and rhythmic basswork by Ruppert. His style is very similar to my own, so maybe it's bias...but it's very good. Check out Wyrd Sisters for proof. Simple, crisp, powerful that not only opens but leads here on the fifth track of Grave New World.

Hey new agers, check out The Crossing. Soulscape talks about the arrival of Planet X/Nibiru...and treats it with more seriousness than I assuredly could. Whether or not the trio is down with the theory I don't know, but to each their own (one of the guys thanks "Icke" in the liner notes...maybe David?) and I find the song filled with excellent male harmonies, bright keys and littered with Soulscape's signature complicated percussion rhythms.

In the first paragraph I had a question. Is Soulscape another band trying to go all Sisterlike? I can answer that now. Fuck SoM. Soulscape don't bother with 8 minute long continuous same-played riffs with the same thing a moody vocalist said for the past 14 measures going on and on again. Soulscape do it better. If you took time out of the equation completely, Sisters could be stereotypes of them and, quite frankly, it's about damn time someone showed up that overzealous boor with better arrangements, more complicated rhythms, better style and a more encompassing feel. I wouldn't be surprised to see Unca' Andy opening for Soulscape some day.

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