On first listening to 'The Rocket Pool', the fourth album from Dudley based band Soley Mourning (a new name to me), my thought was that the music was great and the vocals were great but wasn't sure if they fitted together as a whole, especially on the harder edged songs because the riffs seemed to overpower the voice. Subsequent spins have seen me change that view because the more I listen to this album the more I like it and the more it seems to gel.
Formed in 2006, their Facebook page has them listed as Alternative Rock and, whilst you can hear the Rage Against The Machine and Soundgarden influences, they certainly aren't your run of the mill, modern and drippy style indie rock band that so many tagged as 'Alternative' seem to be these days. Along with the two aforementioned bands, Soley Mourning mix it up with a really soulful, funk driven sound and some big classic rock riffs. Much of this feel comes from vocalist Mat Partridge and, aside from my brief early reservation re lack of power, he really does have a great voice. Part Corey Glover (Living Colour) and part Glenn Hughes, his voice dances all over the material. Along with an equally funk induced rhythm section and two guitarists who know how to sound modern, but also when to crank the amps to maximum volume and riff out old style, 'The Rocket Pool' is full of engaging and catchy tracks that'll have you jigging and headbanging in equal measure from the off. Being a band from the Black Country is also telling because, on occasions, I can hear the influence of Black Country Communion (there is another Glenn Hughes reference) albeit with a less 70s’ feel.
Kicking off with 'Last Of These Nine Lives' is an odd choice, not because it isn't a great song but because it sees Mat team up on vocals with Tina V from the band This Wicked Tongue and, usually, you wouldn't see a collaboration show up till later in a running order. However, their voices go together extremely well and it sets the scene, not only musically but lyrically as well. 'The Unmaking Of A Rational Mind' has a cracking riff but also includes some of the best lyrics I've heard for a long time; it certainly singles out Soley Mourning as a band not to hold back on what they feel. 'Only Members' has an introduction that briefly echoes 'Spirit Of Radio' by Rush, the title track does the same with Led Zeppelin's 'Whole Lotta Love' and album closer 'So Long Song' is your big ballad. That song in particular doesn't spring any surprises - let's face it, bands have worked out what chord progressions work well in a ballad and that isn't going to change any time soon, but it's still a well written song and has some good string arrangements.
'The Rocket Pool' is also well produced with occasional bursts of horn, Hammond organ and backing vocals cutting through nicely as well as giving those guitars a big chunky sound. Having not heard the previous three albums, I'm unsure as to how the band has developed over the years, but Soley Mourning certainly sound comfortable and completely in control of what they are trying to achieve. All I would say is that several songs probably drag on for thirty to forty seconds too long.
This is rock music that, given the chance, will appeal to a wide range of people, in different age groups and in many countries, and I urge you to give them a chance… but, in today's music scene, that is almost certainly not going to happen. Sacred Mother Tongue were a band that had very similar credentials to Soley Mourning but never broke through quite like some people thought they would which, ultimately, finished them off. Even though 'The Rocket Pool' is a very good album, I'm wondering why Soley Mourning are not better known, considering this is album number four. Let's hope it gets the push it deserves.
THE ROCKET POOL
Review by Rick Tilley
29th June 2015
1) Last of These Nine Lives
2) Accidental Enemies
3) Turn Yourself Around
4) Shark Eyes
6) The Rocket Pool
7) The Unmaking of a Rational Mind
8) Seed of Doubt
9) Only Embers
10) So Long Song
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"This is rock music that, given the chance, will appeal to a wide range of people..."