Austin-based psych-rock/prog-rock band Souls Extolled drops their third album, MMXXII, on the last day of 2022.
The album’s title – MMXXII – which is 2022 in Roman numerals, indicates the band’s releasing a new song each month during the past year. MMXXII embodies their story through the different modes of rock music that have inspired them and the spiritual and socio-political concepts that define the experiences of their generation.
Known for their diverse and provocative blend of familiar and eclectic rock fusion, Souls Extolled is made up of JP Ortiz on bass, Joe Valadez on drums, and Zach Black on guitar and vocals.
Commenting on the album, the band says, “To us, without the meaning of these songs they’re just a bunch of sounds. The music that inspired us is not only great sounds, but meanings that inspire us, challenge us, and make us think.”
The new album catalogs their growth and self-exploration. They each came to adopt more secular-agnostic beliefs prior to forming the band, while also sharing similar experiences navigating the strange racial landscape that all Americans of Mexican descent are familiar with. They explore a range of meaningful and topical subjects on the new songs.
MMXXII was recorded at 512 Studios in South Austin with the multi-talented producer Omar Vallejo. The band worked in tandem with Omar to create a truly unique experience and powerful album. The mutual respect between the band and Omar led to a powerful exchange of musical ideas.
Souls Extolled shares, “On the new album we got better and more ambitious with our songwriting, and we were improved in general as a band. It’s our pinnacle work as a band so far.”
The twelfth and final song from MMXXII was released on December 2. Entitled “Down To Go,” according to Zach Black, the song “is about the willingness to embrace the hard truths of life as well as new points of view and experiences that may be discomforting, difficult, or perilous. It does this through a story where you meet a dark figure that’s beckoning you into these new ideas or experiences, and through that willingness to embrace those things, finding essential truths about life. There’s definitely something in the staccato parts of the track reminiscent of Coheed and Cambria, or CKY, with weird sort of Jim Morrison-type vocals. And then it gets experimental with the quickened guitar breakdowns, followed by the super psychedelic chorus with Robert Plant-inspired vocals.”
Other highlights on the album include “Ride of My Life,” which shows the softer side of the band and expresses love, loss, and moving on. Whereas “Acid Trip” reflects their therapeutic experience with acid during a major snowstorm that inspired them to make music, while also probing into anger.
On “This Time,” they take a philosophical look at the spiritual-existential realm, a recurring theme for the band.
The band explains, “‘This Time’ is sort of a Satan song, in that Satan represents truth and knowledge, as well as the ultimate rebellion in the Universe. But it can also be interpreted as a song of desperation, describing the struggle to find something to hold onto when all the paradigms and ideologies of the world fall short.”
“Propaganda Song” is about Marxist ideas around the source of power, the nature of our situation (banker’s chains), and the belief that the people are justified in a violent overthrow of the government.
Drenched in delicious layers of prog-rock with hints of punk and reggae, MMXXII displays the innovative, alluring creativity of Souls Extolled.