Formed in 1992, in Stockbridge, Georgia, United States, Collective Soul catapulted into the Alternative Rock spotlight in the mid-’90s via its now classic stompers “Shine,” “Gel,” and “Precious Declaration,” all of which enjoyed massive radio airplay during the golden decade of the genre. The enduring band proves to be one of the most prolific of its contemporaries, releasing nine studio albums spanning through the decades that followed—from 1993’s Hints Allegations and Things Left Unsaid to 2015’s See What You Started by Continuing.
Now, the much-awaited follow-up is forthcoming—simply titled Blood, symbolizing the close camaraderie with one another of the band’s members: founders E Roland (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards), Dean Roland (rhythm and lead guitar), and Will Turpin (bass, backing vocals), along with more recent addition, Jesse Triplett (lead guitar, backing vocals) and Johnny Rabb (drums, percussion).
Slated for release on Friday, June 21st, 2019, through Fuzze-Flex Records/ADA, Collective Soul’s tenth offering comes at a time where the band is celebrating 25 years established. A very impressive accomplishment, the band has always remained distinctive to others on the Alternative Rock scene and Blood is the product of their experience, meshing the various styles they experimented with over the years.
Consisting of ten tracks in total, it all starts by taking the listener out onto the shiny angularity of “Now’s the Time.” This is then followed by a couple of rockin’ stompers—“Over Me” and “Crushed”—immediately shifting the gear a few notches higher. Then there is the ol’ familiar, feel-good Rock-n-Roll tune “Right as Rain,” the album’s carrier single which has been played so much at live performances over the past year that people already know it front to back.
The piano-led “Them Blues” is a slight change of style—bluesy and folky—reminiscent of Soul Asylum (“String of Pearls”) when Dave Pierner and the rest of the runaways were on their grassy, melodramatic mood. Certainly an album highlight, the melodic and catchy “Good Place to Start” then gives the listener a taste of what might be Collective Soul’s likely influences, as it echoes traces of Prince’s “When Doves Cry,” Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side,” Tom Conwell & the Young Rumblers’ “I’m Seventeen,” Tom Cochrane’s “Life Is a Highway,” and Alison Krauss’s “When You Say Nothing at All.”
Seemingly Dali-inspired, lyrically speaking, “Observation of Thoughts” sounds anthemic and stadium-ready; it has that refreshing U2 vibes in it. Then there is the customary slow piano ballad—the impassioned “Changed,” which will fit well onto a playlist of fuzzy Alternative Rock ballads that include Counting Crows’ “’Round Here,” Radiohead’s “High and Dry,” Third Eye Blind’s “How’s It Going to Be?,” Buffalo Tom’s “Torch Singer,” and U2’s “Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own.” The penultimate track, “Big Sky” then marches its mid-tempo into the listener’s now enamored heart. Finally, Collective Soul concludes Blood with another countryside ballad—this time Gospel-inspired—the organ-drenched “Porch Swing”—pulsating, swaying, whistling… comforting… an apt album closer featuring background vocals and guitar from Styx’s Tommy Shaw.
Collective Soul may be regarded as one of the survivors of the ’90s Alternative Rock scene, alongside Weezer (“My Name Is Jonas”), The Smashing Pumpkins (“Cherub Rock”), Pearl Jam (“Jeremy”), and several others more—all of which are to this day still making music. Not resting on their laurels, E Roland and his collective of soulmates have proven again with Blood that their wellspring of music remains fresh and flowing. That is why Cryptic Rock gives this new album 4 out of 5 stars.