red lights

Empty identity

Smile Empty Soul

Smile Empty Soul
(Lava Records)
2 (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: July 1, 2003

Review by Tony Bonyata

If you could put the Santa Clarita, California-based band Smile Empty Soul's sound into a box, it might be construed as emotive heavy music. The problem is, once in that box, it's hard to get it back out again.
With an all too familiar sound of buzzing guitars and angst-filled vocals amid half-baked, overwrought melodies on their self-titled debut, this trio is just a little too tender to be considered heavy metal and a little bit edgy to be considered emo-rock...but just a little.
While the band treads on issues that weigh heavy on them, such as the self destruction caused by substance abuse ("Bottom of a Bottle"), soulless children raised by T.V. ("Nowhere Kids") as well as their anti-war sentiments ("This Is War"), the music, however, does little to raise any eyebrows here - unless you're from the Staind / Creed sect.
Despite a lack of identity, the band's formula of mixing up some of their meatier numbers ("Therapy," "Your Way" and "Radio in a Hole") with emotive ballads and more introspective numbers ("This Is War," "For You" and "With This Knife"), gives the album a well-textured sense of timing, which makes this already familiar journey to album's end, at least, a bit more interesting.
Smile Empty Soul's first outing on disc comes off sounding like it was specifically crafted for alternative radio play, which it will no doubt achieve. But considering the putrid state of that medium today, that's this band's biggest problem.
Smile Empty Soul will performing at Milwaukee's Summerfest on the Mountain Dew Rock Stage July 3rd at 6:30pm

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