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I am Salty The Beast. I am what you might call a Renaissance man, meaning I find interest in most every medium. I love watching movies, listening to music, writing music, playing video games, making videos, etc.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

ALBUM REVIEW: Collective Soul

Track Listing:
1. Simple*
2. Untitled
3. The World I Know*
4. Smashing Young Man^
5. December
6. Where The River Flows
7. Gel*
8. She Gathers Rain
9. When The Water Falls
10. Collection of Goods
11. Bleed
12. Reunion

“*” signifies songs which Salty the Beast considers to be the best of the album
“^” signifies Salty’s pick for least favorite of the album

Despite having a huge hit on their hands (“Shine”) with their debut release Hints, Allegations, and Things Left Unsaid, Collective Soul really considers their 1995 self-titled album to be the band’s real beginning. Ed Roland [the group’s vocalist/guitarist] supports his statement basically saying that Collective Soul is a big departure from the sounds presented in Hints and that “It’s like comparing one band to another band.” While I think his claim is a tad hyperbolic, this album is a sizeable improvement from the band’s simple but appealing alternative rock sound.

The group spawned a handful of singles on this particular record, including “December,” “Gel” and one of their most commercially successful hits, “The World I Know.” It is easy to see exactly why this song got as popular as it did, as it is arguably the most mature song on the album. Showcasing acoustic guitars and orchestral instruments, the song knows how to create both a beautifully melancholy ambiance and a beautifully uplifting one as well, and shifts between the two so effortlessly. “December” on the contrary is a much more generic sounding alternative track, not offering much variety beyond just the main riff. It is not necessarily a bad song, it just isn’t an especially exciting one.

Aside from “The World I Know,” Collective Soul happens to deliver a fair share of good, or even great songs. One of my personal favorites is the straightforward, guitar-laden opening track “Simple,” which bears a minor resemblance to something of the heavier variety by Audioslave. Also notable is the poppier sounding “Collection of Goods.” It doesn’t quite go too far into the realm of pop rock and works well as a mellow, laid back alternative number. The previously said “Gel” is bass-driven in its tone, adding an interesting dimension of heaviness not typically found in the genre.

As a matter of fact, there are even very few rough patches to be found on the whole album, and even those aren’t significantly detrimental to the album as a whole. Examples include the not-bad-but-not-good-enough “When The Water Falls,” which again is mostly just a generic sounding rock song that uses plain chords as its entire rhythm guitar section. While another guitar-heavy track “Where The River Flows” has a halfway interesting main riff, there are hardly anymore other riffs to be found throughout the rest of the song, seeming as though it was hurriedly put together. However, the most disappointing occurs just before the album’s midpoint and that is “Smashing Young Man.” I’ll be honest; the whole song itself doesn’t gel stylistically with the rest of the album. Its main riff is awkward and the chorus unfortunately leaves much to be desired. I mean, the previous track WAS “The World I Know.”

Nonetheless, Collective Soul is a surprisingly good listen from top to bottom. While the band itself was not groundbreaking in the territory of alternative rock, they had their success and counteracted their dearth of originality with songs ranging from above-average to downright-catchy. To this day, people still play a handful of songs from Collective Soul on the radio because their sound has hit a chord with people and is able to branch out from the pesky restraints of the genre they are a part of.


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