For all its tangible promise and songwriting audacity, Mindrot's 1995 debut, Dawning, was as maddeningly schizophrenic as it was enticingly eclectic, seeming more like an anthology of unrelated tracks collected piecemeal during the group's half-decade gestation before signing with Relapse Records than a true cohesive album. So even though it would take them nearly three years to do it, the Orange County, CA, natives were apparently determined to divest themselves of their more conspicuous musical influences -- Neurosis, Paradise Lost, Fields of the Nephilim -- and establish an experimental extreme metal identity of their own for sophomore album Soul. This was accomplished, by and large, with the injection of copious doses of hardcore aggression and thrash metal velocity (from whence the band originated long ago) into menacing cuts like "Nothing," "Suffer Alone," and "Cold Skin," then shifting at the most unexpected of times into quiet atmospheric passages more familiar to fans of their first album. And as disconcerting as these radical dynamic shifts and emotional mood swings could be, Mindrot's arrangements were unquestionably tighter than ever before, and vocalist Adrian Leroux's clean vocals significantly improved since their first outing, finally on par with his powerful death growls. These harsh sonic contrasts also helped to reveal the mature subtlety with which the band was now repurposing its lingering goth and doom influences throughout more deliberate and often beautifully haunting material like "Dissipation," "Incandescence," and the sublime album finale, "Despair." Ironically, in what would ultimately prove to be their career finale (they broke up mere weeks after Soul's release), Mindrot crafted perhaps their greatest doom epic, initially buoyed by surprisingly uplifting organs before buckling under the weight of layer upon layer of increasingly depressing musical elements (piano and guitar melodies, followed by thundering power chords and raging grunts), until it lay broken and buried, much like the band's career would be, soon enough.
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AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia