(groverXIII reviews the recently released second album by Soul Cycle, a two-man project consisting of Chris Catharsis and Mark Hawkins.)
Dawn Of The Shred. Evil Shred. The Quick And The Shred. Shred Poets Society. Better Off Shred. Shred Rising. Shred Man Walking. Shred Alive. The Shred Pool. Things To Do In Denver When You’re Shred. Shred Reckoning.
OK, I think I’m about out of “movie titles using the word ‘shred’ in place of the word ‘dead'”. I couldn’t think of a better way to start my review of the new Soul Cycle album, Soul Cycle II, which is an instrumental album full of, you guessed it, shred. Soul Cycle is the brainchild of guitar wunderkinds Chris Catharsis and Mark Hawkins, the band’s sole members; Catharsis handles writing, production, bass, and drum programming in addition to guitars, while Hawkins provides mostly guitar leads. The first Soul Cycle album (the cleverly-titled Soul Cycle) was a great collection of instrumental guitar pyrotechnics with bits of groove and, yes, a little bit of djent mixed in, and they have not deviated from that particular mix on their sophomore release.
However, in order to up the ante a bit, they went out and assembled the largest group of guest soloists I have ever seen. Seriously, this is like a combination of the Avengers and the Justice League, except instead of super heroes, this group is comprised of some of the most talented guitarists (and a couple of keyboardists) you’ve never heard of (and a few you have). To put things in perspective, I’ve compiled a list of each guitarist, along with a link to some of their work, in order of appearance:
Yeah. That’s a lot of talent to be contained within one single album. Each of those folks contributes at least one guest solo, with some doing two or three, and that’s not even considering the solos contributed by Catharsis and Hawkins. What you will hear on Soul Cycle II is a solid hour of guitar wankery of the highest order, and I mean that in the best possible way. It’s pure guitar bliss, an album that you can actively listen to or simply turn off your brain and let the waves of fretboard acrobatics wash over you. It’s nigh impossible for me to pick out a favorite moment on this album, simply because there’s so much to hear.
You can get the album for free on the Soul Cycle Bandcamp page, and you should. It’s a rarity to have this much talent gathered in one place, and you should definitely take note.