Soulmotor (CMC International) 1999
Sacramento, CA-based metal band Soulmotor formed in 1996 from the ashes of Tesla, the band briefly reunited bassist Brian Wheat with guitarist Frank Hannon. Adding vocalist Darin Wood and drummer Darren Minter, the group began gigging locally, but after a few months Hannon exited to form “Moon Dog Mane”, and was replaced by Tommy McClendon. Tommy was a short lived ex-UFO axeman on the lackluster "Misdemeanor" album. The band's first album has a steady, thick, bluesy, hard rock feel not unlike Badlands, Red Sea or even early Lynch Mob, with a slightly more 1970's slant. However, the band has a slight modern vibe, although I would not go so far as to call them modern rock or alternative. Rather, this is just solid hard rock with a darker sound than that of Tesla. To be honest, however, this album just doesn't have much that really grabs me by the jugular, like much of Tesla's releases. I've actually had this album in a stack of trades for years as I really didn't care all that much for it. Part of the reason for this is vocalist Darin Wood just doesn't do much for the music here. His style seems a bit monotonous to me. However, he is passionate and can sing. After seeing Tesla on the "Reel to Reel" tour, I decided to give this album a fresh spin and this time around I enjoyed it a bit more. However, I think Soulmotor will mostly be a band for Tesla die-hards and this album relegated to a listen every couple of years or so. I do dig the trippy, 1960's inspired cover art.