GOREFEST — Soul Survivor

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GOREFEST - Soul Survivor cover
3.89 | 15 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 1996

Filed under Death 'n' Roll


1. Freedom (4:32)
2. Forty Shades (4:17)
3. River (4:35)
4. Electric Poet (4:21)
5. Soul Survivor (4:30)
6. Blood Is Thick (3:43)
7. Dog Day (2:54)
8. Demon Seed (3:47)
9. Chameleon (2:46)
10. Dragon Man (9:14)

Total Time: 44:43

Bonus tracks for Japan:
10. Tired Moon
11. Goddess in Black (orchestral version)


- Jan-Chris de Koeijer / vocals, bass
- Boudewijn Bonebakker / lead guitar
- Frank Harthoorn / guitar
- Ed Warby / drums

About this release

Full-length, Nuclear Blast Records, April 19th, 1996

produced by Oscar Holleman and Gorefest
engineered by Oscar Holleman
at R.S. 29, Waalwick, Holland, November-December 1995
Mixed by Attie Bauw at Bauwhaus studio, Amsterdam, Hollan, January 1996

A music video for "Freedom" was made.

Thanks to UMUR, adg211288 for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

With Soul Survivor, Gorefest jump onto the death 'n' roll microgenre bandwagon that Entombed and others had been driving for a couple of years prior, and to their credit they pull off the style admirably. To be fair, they had been preparing this sonic shift some time in advance, with groundwork laid on the preceding Erase, but here they lock on to the genre and really nail it, churning out a set of songs which manage to balance being genuinely anthemic whilst still having a thick layer of death metal grit to them. Never mind that you can't listen to "Forty Shades" without thinking of 50 Shades of Grey - this is still a death 'n' roll mosh party in a sleek 44 minute package.
"Soul Survivor" is the 4th full-length studio album by Dutch death/heavy metal act Gorefest. The album was released through Nuclear Blast Records in April 1996. Before lead guitarist Boudewijn Bonebakker joined Gorefest, shortly before the recording of the band´s 2nd full-length studio album "False (1992)", he made it no secret that he would in time try and move the band in a more 70s heavy metal/hard rock direction. It´s not exactly audible on "False (1992)", but the band´s next album "Erase (1994)" features a more heavy/hard rocking sound (while still maintaining a relatively raw death metal sound) than it´s more brutal predecessor. "Soul Survivor" is the album where Gorefest took the last step and the music on "Soul Survivor" probably sounds close to Bonebakker´s original vision.

While the music on the album can somewhat be called death metal rooted, it´s actually only the semi-growling vocals by Jan-Chris de Koeijer and the occasional harder edged riff that points in that direction. If you take away the raw vocals, "Soul Survivor" is for the most part a pretty melodic 70s influenced heavy metal album (there are even the occasional use of organ on the album). It´s acts like Thin Lizzy and UFO rather than Cannibal Corpse and Morbid Angel that come to mind. Gorefest tread a delicate path here though and because of the rather unusual mix of semi-growling vocals, hard rocking riffs and melodic solos and twin leads, "Soul Survivor" face the risk of not really appealing to the audience of any of the two genres. Death metal fans will probably miss a bit more bite, brutality and power while fans of hard rock and heavy metal will probably be turned off by the semi-growling vocals. Luckily for Gorefest, we are some of us, who like both styles and can relate to the music on "Soul Survivor". The music is well played and it´s obvious that especially Bonebakker puts his heart and soul into the guitar work.

Featuring a relatively warm and organic sound production, "Soul Survivor" has in addition to the songwriting and the musicianship many good things going for it. It´s not an album that makes a ton of impact, but it´s certainly both pleasant entertaining. I´d say a 3 - 3.5 star (65%) rating is fair.
Soul Survivor is the fourth full-length effort from Dutch band Gorefest, released in 1996. Gorefest can have full marks for bravery with this album. Soul Survivor is very a departure from their death metal of the previous albums, incorporating more of a classic rock sound while keeping frontman Jan-Chris de Koeijer’s death growls. The result is a death 'n' roll album that proves that the band’s bravery has paid off, as Soul Survivor is an almost perfect release.

Opener Freedom features a long intro for a relatively short song, and contains excellent guitar work from Boudewijn Bonebakker and Frank Harthoorn, particularly Bonebakker with his simply perfect solo that leads into the first verse. Up until this point the album doesn’t sound death metal at all, until Jan-Chris’s voice come in and the term death 'n' roll suddenly obtains clarity. With a clean vocal, the chorus of Freedom may come across as pop, but Jan-Chris turns this into a metal anthem.

I can say the same thing about Forty Shades, Soul Survivor, Blood is Thick, Dog Day and Chameleon. All are metal anthems in their own right, whether you want to consider this to be true death metal or not. I can’t really say that any of them stand up to Freedom, except perhaps Chameleon, but they are killer songs nevertheless.

River is slower, with less of the classic 70’s rock influence in the sound, except in the solo section, but features some tasty acoustic guitars too, adding variety to the album. This variety also appears in Electric Poet in the form of the 70’s influence being the very essence of the song. If it wasn’t if the death grunt vocal style, this would fit right onto anything by any 70’s classic rock band. But Gorefest have modernised it and produced an absolute cracker of an album in the process.

A special mention to the album’s closer, Dragon Man, with its oriental elements and with some of the best guitar solos on the album, and an epic guitar and piano ending that is to die for. Although slightly drawn out after the vocals finish, it makes for the perfect end.

The vocals of Jan-Chris de Koeijer may not be brutal death metal growls, a fact that he is often criticized for, but Soul Survivor just cements the fact that he is a much underrated talent, being a grunter with a deep tone, and on top of that there is the fact that he is for the most part, understandable. When listening to this album the lyrics can be understood easily, so people actually know what the song is about. The perfect guitar sound is summed up within the first minute of Freedom, hooking myself as the listener into what is without a doubt a must-have for any Gorefest fan, whether they miss the full-on death metal of the early work or not.

(Review originally written for Heavy Metal Haven)

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