Angry, crunchy, violent…heavy. That’s Soul Search. When you get into one of their records, you shouldn’t really expect any particularly memorable songwriting. What you can ALWAYS expect is to get your ass kicked. Nothing but a Nightmare sees the SoCal 5-piece putting together actually highly unique, catchy riffs, although they sometimes grow a little repetitive and lose some of the magic that they conjured up. They channel heaviness in a number of ways with a number of different hardcore-related influences, and that trademark is especially manifest on this EP.
The almost kvltish fuzz, and the wailing wind of the intro track “Never See,” offers a crusty feel, and the vocal stress and patterns, when matched just right with the heavy-ass riffage, might just remind you of 80′s-early 90′s Entombed or Death. Its true, organic brutality primes your ears to get them absolutely railed by “The Scapegoat,” on which the drumming is schizophrenically frantic, and the riffs highly inspired and borderline mathcore, going in directions that you’d never expect and reeking with originality. That sure makes for a memorable hardcore punk song, if I ever heard one.
“Slow Burn” busts its way in with a back-breakingly heavy riff, that repeats for the bulk of the song until inspired drumming blasts some more life into it with creative cymbalwork and frenetic fills. Then comes the guitar solo, just frantic and blurry as hell, straight out of the book of Kerry King and Trey Azagthoth. It cements the band’s underlying metal influence that makes them all the more fun to listen to, although you’d be a fool to say these guys are anything but a consummation of all the heaviest types of hardcore, and different hardcore derivatives, in existence. It’s just sort of a cherry on top, especially for someone like myself, who is more of a metalhead than a hardcore guy. On a side note, I’m sure someone who’s more into hardcore would probably have observations very different to mine, but I suppose that’s true with anything. But I digress.
The title track then serves as a brief dark ambient interlude, before “Succumb” closes the record out. This one’s unfortunately the least memorable of the five tracks (four, if you don’t count the interlude), and you might wonder to yourself if you’ve heard the main riff before, even on the track two slots before it. Though it might end up leaving you with a bad taste in your mouth, there’s no way you’ll soon forget the pure unbridled chaos of “The Scapegoat” and the infectious brutality of “Slow Burn.” Even “Succumb” is purely heavy as hell; it just isn’t quite as musically valuable. But hey, it’s hardcore, and this is definitely a step in the right direction for these Californian young guns.