Let's be honest. To the average person that hasn't been following along carefully, it's been hard to impossible to tell the difference between Drowning Pool and Soil for the last decade. Both have had multiple singers in their camp. Both have had Ryan McCombs as one of those singers. And both have released some fairly unmemorable work in the last 10 years. That said though, I'm the first to admit that I was a BIG fan of Soil with McCombs when they first came out. Their THROTTLE JUNKIES release was stellar, and while they traded down to be trendy on both their SCARS and REDEFINE releases, both were still enjoyable if you are accepting the musical style that dominated active rock radio in the early 2000s. Several releases with vocalist AJ Cavalier served as little more than times when people would hear their name and go, "oh, those guys are still around?" McCombs has returned, and the band has come charging back with WHOLE. While not as raw as their earliest days with THROTTLE JUNKIES or the EL CHUPACABRA EP, WHOLE is closer to the original sound than these guys have been in years.
To go straight to the point, McCombs rejoining the band is very much welcomed. It's not that Cavalier wasn't solid, but he didn't have anything distinct about his recorded work. McCombs has a very distinct voice that is uniquely his own, with only his James Hetfield-like "yeah yeahs" feeling like they were borrowed from somewhere else. He rocks here on WHOLE. Songs like "Amalgamation" and "My Time" are full of attitude being spit forth by McCombs. In fact, he really does that throughout most of the release. McCombs fits perfectly with guitarist Adam Zadel and bassist Tim King throughout. Songs like "Ugly" find these guys working perfectly once again as a band.
While they are instrumentally solid, the best part of McCombs coming back to the band is the chemistry that clearly came back to the band. In short, these songs just have a lot of energy that comes from having some fun in the practice spot. Listening to songs like "Psychopath", it's clear that this one just developed from a late night writing session where these guys were "feeling it".
PITRIFF RATING - 85/100 - WHOLE is not perfect, but it's a far cry from anything these guys have done collectively or apart from each other in years. Definitely a strong return to form or comeback from a group of guys that really needed such a thing. It's probably too late to capitalize on it, but it's still good to hear. This one rocks pretty well.