“Reality”. That’s what the Swedish title of SOILWORK’s 11th studio album means, in case you’re wondering. And reality is, ladies and gentlemen, that this is a hammer album.
Soilwork never said me much, truth be told. I heard a song here and there, never was too impressed. Saw them at Wacken in 2003 and 2008, which didn’t really stick to memory. Then I finally saw Björn Strid and his compatriots at Aalborg Metal Festival in 2013, where the Swedes delivered a tight, professional and all in all excellent set. Totally approved. Still, it didn’t really lure me into listening to their albums, perhaps a song here and there.
When Markus from Nuclear Blast wanted to check in with us to see if anyone would do a review, I had to tell him that sadly no one from the staff had picked up the album (something I have to say a lot because we literally receive hundreds of review requests every month). When his response was something along the lines of ‘please do so – the album kills!’, I thought to myself: ‘hm, A&R people tend to say this, but when someone from Nuclear Blast takes the trouble to say it, then possibly I should take a minute or two to check out the album’.
I did and never regretted it. It’s been the album I’ve listened to most often when I’ve had the time to listen to music at work.
Strid and Andersson have written the songs of the album, and hats off to their ability to put together a varied mixture of superb songs. Whether they incorporate black metal inspired riffing, death metal, heavy rock or ABBAesque pop melodies, they make the lot work like a charm.
The album opener, which is also the title track, is a wee instrumental with a slide guitar. Beautiful stuff, which is then rather abruptly followed by a furiosly fast riff and blastbeast drumming by the newest addition to the band, drummer Sebastian Thursgaard (formerly of among others Dawn of Demise and The Arcane Order). The young Dane replaces Dirk Verbeuren in a most convincing way – his effort here is very, very impressive.
Björn Strid is a voice wonder. It is incredible how he after all these years still is capable of bridging the span from deep death growls over metalcore screams to the modern metal clean voice to a pop/rock clean voice. What did he do that e.g. Burton Bell from Fear Factory didn’t do? Whatever, his voice is magic.
One of my favourite songs is ‘Stålfågel’ (‘Steel bird’). The reason for this is not only because Strid uses so variety of facets of his voice for this song, but also because the sonf has one of the coolest grooves I’ve heard in a song in a long time.
Monster songs. Monster album. It should be on Spotify now – go listen!
Full Moon Shoals
The Nurturing Glance
When the Universe Spoke
The Wolves Are Back In Town
The Ageless Whisper
Needles and Kin
Playing Time: 50 minutes
Björn 'Speed' Strid (vocals)
David Andersson (guitars)
Sylvian Coudret (guitars)
Sven Karlsson (keyboards)
Bastian Thusgaard (drums)