Brace yourself. The Souls Unrest has one of the more complicated histories in all of Christian metal. The roots of the band lie in old school punk band Spudgun, who released one album on Bulletproof Records (a division of Gray Dot). That band got heavier and darker, changing styles so much that a new name was warranted–World Against World. That version of the band also released one album (an amazing album at that) for Bulletproof, before morphing again. A short-lived project called The Orcrist followed, but released no official recordings. Demos however revealed a band that was fully embracing heavy metal.
The next stage of the band, including some major personnel changes, was The Souls Unrest. They were one of those bands that were incredibly difficult to classify. Intensely heavy and brutal, and not easily pigeonholed into any subgenre–but also not in a negative way, like a band that doesn’t know its own identity. It was just the way they seamlessly intertwined death metal, sludge, and crust punk into a singular sound. To this day, it’s one of my favorite ‘styles’ of metal. There have been bands that have been more brutal, more technical, or more experimental, but none that combined the heaviness, innovation, and technicality in such satisfying ways.
The tendency towards compound time signatures, especially 6/8 and 12/8, a trend which began with World Against World, carries on here. But it’s not just the time signatures. It’s also the start-stops, the stop-starts, the weird phrasing (e.g. riffs that start to get you into a groove and then shift into something else). It’s hard for me not to say more good things about this album. Is it perfect, no? There are some mixing and production issues, one or two sloppy spots. But man, is it good! Just listen for the rapid-fire triplets in the sludge breakdown on “Rising,” our featured track.
At some point in the mid 2000s, the band splintered. Half of the original members (several who had been in Spudgun and World Against World) formed the mainstream doom metal band Royal Thunder, while the other half carried on in TSU for a short while. To my knowledge they never broke up, just fizzled out. I was privileged to catch them live at least twice while living in their hometown of Atlanta, and it was always a good show!