Smile Empty Soul stormed to the forefront of the music business almost a decade ago with its 2003, self-titled debut album. High-school friends from Santa Clarita formed this post-grunge trio just five years earlier and the band has sold close to 1 million records and played hundreds of concerts since its inception. The band has dealt with issues with several different labels and a number of line-up changes, but nothing has derailed the train. Rather, it has continued to produce its special brand of metal seeping with a guitar-driven urgency and seething lyrical force. — BY DAVID YOCKEL, JR.