Warrior Souls is one of those bands that you have heard of, but are not sure what their music is like. Perhaps you have heard of their fiercely political hard rock/punk style – a crucial half decade before Rage Against The Machine - but, at the risk of being patronizing, you don't know much about this New York-based band's music. Don't panic, neither does this author.
Recently I purchased a re-release of their 1991 album Drugs, Gods, and the New Republic and I'm still recovering from it. This is the album Queensryche should have made after Empire (1990). The connection with the Seattle band is ever more evident in the lyrics of opening track, "Intro": "I'm a believer / I dream supersonic / We are the Government / And we rock'n'roll".
Vocalist Kory Clarke has a voice that befits the various genres the band are playing with on this album. On the anthemic "The Answer", his vocals reminded me of Doug Pinnick of King's X, while on the stand-out track "Jump for Joy" he makes sure the minimalist chorus stays with you for a while. He is also an able lyricist, whose vivid poetry manages to carve its message into our psyche without spewing out Manichean antics. Check out the opening verse of the aforementioned "The Answer": "Plastic leaders seem like insects / Tortured cities lost beyond / Pleasure films of landscape dying / Dirt on royal gowns".
However it is not only Clarke that shines. John Ricco's bluesy guitar is complemented well with a rhythm section that never takes the center stage, but always reminds you of its presence. A case in point would be "Jump for Joy" – a claustrophobic riff with a hypnotic riff.
One of the strengths of the album is the uncompromising attitude that it carries with it until the end. The band opted not to include any ballads, which works in its favor. It might have been tempting to include a power ballad or two to ensure some radio and MTV exposure, but it plays on without losing any of its energy or exhausting the listener.
Drugs, God, and the New Republic is a fantastic lost gem from the early '90s and shows the immense potential this relatively unknown band possessed. If you are looking for a "thinking man's rock album", look no further.