Though this album is certainly no true Death Metal nor is it as heavy as their previous works, in my humble opinion it is one of the most underrated records of the Nineties. The record label expected it to be GOREFEST's breakthrough album, because instead it was the beginning of their demise. The Death Metal turned bluesy, and the fans of old didn't follow in that evolution.
But that doesn't mean "Soul Survivor" is no good. Opening song "Freedom" starts out with acoustic guitars, and builds up to become a brilliant Death Rock-stomper. Nearly all the songs keep up this high standard: they're well written and structured, with nice Blues-licks and solo's by lead guitarist Boudewijn Bonebakker. Listening to the great title track, that is so 'basic' and catchy, you could almost say that GOREFEST was the AC/DC of Death Metal. Other new elements like the hippie-style Hammond organ in e.g. "Electric Poet" also soften up the music a great deal.
The 'controversial' thing about this record are definitely the vocals of Jan-Chris de Koeyer. His grunt didn't really evolve together with the music and could be a turn-off for people who like the melodic music. I guess it's a 'love it or hate it' kind of thing. In any case, he proves not to be a brainless shouter, because his lyrics are pretty interesting and intelligent.
So if you like well made, well played Melodic Rock and you can handle the relatively extreme vocals (compared to the music, that is) you should certainly try out "Soul Survivor". It can't be a problem finding a copy, because Nuclear Blast manufactured a couple too many …
Guest-reviewer Arun Rao