A Brief Moment in the Sun

Dec 05, 2022
Web Exclusive

By Matthew Berlyant


Starting as a relatively straightforward DC hardcore punk band in the mid ’80s as Lunchmeat and releasing a split with Dave Grohl’s early band Mission Impossible, Soulside really left their mark on the scene with three LPs (first on Sammich, last two on Dischord) and a 7-inch before breaking up in 1989. Three of the four members (save singer Bobby Sullivan) went on to form GVSB and eventually moved to New York while Sullivan moved to Boston and played in a variety of bands like Seven League Boots and Rain Like the Sound of Trains, each continuing the political lyrical trajectory of where Sullivan was going on Soulside’s late ’80s records, particularly 1988’s Trigger and 1989’s Hot Bodi-Gram, their finest record and one of the finest in the entire, incredible Dischord catalog.

Now with members spread out all over the world, Soulside reunited in 2014, first for a handful of shows that year, including one to celebrate the release of Scott Crawford’s DC Hardcore documentary Salad Days. This led to a new 7-inch, “This Ship,” in 2020. The 7-inch showcased a brand new sound for the band, neither reminiscent of Soulside’s late ’80s highs nor even of anything GVSB has recorded in their now more than 30 years as a band, but rather something different. Though the 7-inch could be termed a grower and the new LP, A Brief Moment in the Sun, follows in its footsteps soundwise—it hits right away and proves the 7-inch just a warm-up for this, the main event.

First off, let’s talk a little about the music here. Guitarist Scott McCloud brings gigantic riffs reminiscent more of Kingface (the band of Sullivan’s brother, Mark Sullivan), later Scream, or even ’90s/’00s “desert rock” such as Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age and their various offshoots, perhaps also showing off the Dischord roster’s long-time obsession (ahem) with pioneering DC stoner metal group The Obsessed. Sullivan’s vocals are markedly different from their older records, too, but just as powerful. In addition to all this, as a long-time activist, he has written incredible, politically- and socially-minded lyrics that hold nothing back and are unafraid of controversial subject matter that question official historical narratives, ranging from the self-explanatory “Reconstruction” (about the period in American History directly following the Civil War) to “70’s Heroes” (about the M.O.V.E. organization) and “Walker” (about John Walker Lindh, whom Steve Earle also wrote a quite controversial song about 20 years ago). No matter your feelings on these topics, these lyrics will make you think and that is appreciated greatly. The fearlessness, passion, intensity, integrity, and drive just bleed through the grooves here, but this isn’t just Sullivan’s show.

The band, anchored by Johnny Temple (one of punk’s finest bassists)—only occasionally going into territory similar to catchy late ’80s bass riffs like the one on “Name in Mind”—as well as McCloud and drummer Alexis Fleisig, proves the value of playing together for 35 years now since Temple joined Soulside to replace future Ignition bassist (and Fury vocalist along with Circus Lupus singer/guitarist Chris Thomson), as tight as they ever were. No wonder this sounds so good! Between this and the great Hammered Hulls LP released around the same time, Dischord has issued two of the finest albums of the year, not just in the post-hardcore genre, but overall as well. (www.soulside.bandcamp.com)

Author rating: 8.5/10

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