Reviewed by Gashley Gruesome
Hails and Horns from Sweden! Soilwork has released another much anticipated album. Being such a huge fan of Soilwork for the last 12 or so years, this was something I could hardly wait for but at the same time I was terrified because they announced this release was going to be a double album. When I think of double albums I usually feel like things are rushed to put down tracks and only a handful become decent and the rest are filler. When Soilwork released Sworn to a Great Divide sans guitarist Peter Wichers, a lot of people lost interest in the band, believing they lost their main creative genius. Some say they redeemed themselves with Peter returning to record The Panic Broadcast only to announce his departure once more. I, for one believe the rest of the band has a lot to do with Soilwork’s success, so I still had an open mind that this album was going to be solid without Peter since I did enjoy Sworn to a Great Divide despite his absence. Also regardless of “True Metal Elitists’” hate for what Soilwork has become, giving them only credit for albums like Steelbath Suicide, The Chainheart Machine and A Predators Portrait, I tend to enjoy what they have evolved into and the diversity in Björn Strid’s voice is something that should be emphasized rather than him growling an entire album alone. Don’t get me wrong though, their earlier albums are what hooked me in the first place and still kick total ass.
Without further ado, the first disc starts out with catchy-ass riffs, heavy chugs and blast beats that are not unexpected for Soilwork’s sound. I feel excitement rise as since the beginning starts off so well, I hope I can expect a trend here and it doesn’t let me down. The first 3 tracks “Spectrum of Eternity”, “Memories Confined” and “This Momentary Bliss” are of a similar formula. They begin with heavy screams and growls busting down the gates of hell and break with a chorus that will get stuck in your head for days. They create melodies that manage to tug at your heart strings and make you smile, yet don’t curb the heaviness at all. Björn’s voice is unbelievable on this record! He manages to mix old school screams that I am familiar with from early albums like The Chainheart Machine and Figure Number Five, to clean melodic vocals that are almost an unexpected progressive melody but somehow fit so perfectly into creating that classic Soilwork sound (you know, catchy as fuck). There are also a few tracks on both discs that are a different side of singing for Björn like he’s singing on a lower register or with a different technique, it almost sounds nothing like him. The band is ALWAYS tight when it comes to playing together. It can definitely be heard throughout. I have seen them live multiple times and despite one show where the sound quality was bad at the venue, it was almost unreal the exact timing from everyone playing as a whole. Guitarists David Andersson and Sylvain Coudret cohesively master these riffs and solos like the metal masters they are. Ola Flink has always made a heavy statement with bass tracks in Soilwork and Dirk Verbeuren of course is a devastating machine on the drums. Sven Karlsson’s keys and synth are unmistakable on a lot of tracks and add such a great element to each song. The placing of his synth is perfect and a lot of times are a standout point on certain songs with excellent solos. The tracks “The Living Infinite I” and “Vesta” both begin with acoustic guitar work which is revitalizing and almost sensual. “The Windswept Mercy” is one of my favorite tracks on the first disc with guest vocals from Justin Sullivan from New Model Army. The ethereal chorus, mid-tempo start out and instant less aggressive vocals are unforgettable and I’ve found myself starting it over right after it was finished to hear it a couple more times.
The second disc starts with an instrumental track which is different, it’s not very long but it’s still a good tune. Back to the heavy stuff when the second track “Long Live the Misanthrope” begins, which also contains one of the catchiest choruses on the album. It seems like they spent a lot of time on creating tracks that are unpredictable and even have a more progressive approach, so as a whole it seems that a lot of the typical catchy riff/epic chorus combo is not as repetitive as it has been on other records. They are quite consistent throughout the album though which is a huge relief. What I mean by that is there are no tracks that are filler. All have a uniqueness to offer to the album and the placing of the tracks prevents you from getting bored like you’re hearing the same thing track after track.
In a nutshell, this double album is not their best album to date, but still not disappointing. They try so many new things yet don’t stray from what I have always loved about Soilwork. They have just the perfect mixture of everything to make it not something that sounds exactly like every other album and just enough to make it not sound like a completely different band. Definitely excited to hear some of this shit live this Spring!!!!