Soilwork – The Ride Majestic

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I stumbled over a bunch of Soilwork records in a record store once and I thought, “Well, you could actually buy some, you enjoy that band after all”, so I did – The Panic Broadcast and The Living Infinite. Along with some of their older material (laugh at me, I actually loved Figure Number Five), I’ve been listening to these albums a lot since then, possibly to bridge the time between the release of their live DVD (released in March, read my review here) and the new release The Ride Majestic this month. In fact, I do believe that these two records that I bought have set the bar very high for the next album. The double album The Living Infinite contains 20 songs and I can’t think of a poor one. On The Panic Broadcast, there are hits like “Let This River Flow” and “Late For The Kill, Early For The Slaughter”, which are really hard to beat in terms of awesomeness.

Soilwork stated to have created a more dynamic, melancholic and epic album with The Ride Majestic. To quote vocalist Björn “Speed” Strid, “people will hear a darker version of Soilwork this time around“ (read my interview here). I personally was very keen on hearing how that would exactly sound like.

The eponymous single off the upcoming album (which also happens to be the first song on the tracklist), is quite thrilling, to be honest. It begins with a beautiful, slightly moody melody before a great riff and fast drumming kick in, which, together with the vocals, build up to a melodic and gripping chorus. The band slows down in the bridge just to blast out the refrain one more time – what a great opening for an album! So now, it was time to hear what the whole album had to offer.

Regarding its technical and very dynamic approach, “Alight In The Aftermath” may be the most extreme and energetic track off The Ride Majestic. For the next scarce four minutes, fast and heavy sections alternate with mid-tempo to slow and melodic parts in a way that the song itself still sounds authentic.
“Death In General” starts off slower than his predecessor. The intro and the song title hint to a more melancholic track, which turns out to be true, but unfortunately, the only part that really got me is the refrain. Unlike in “Alight In The Aftermath”, the changes of pace in “Death In General” sound too compelled in my opinion. “Enemies In Fidelity” starts off very promising, and during the first minute, there really is nothing to be upset about. But even after so many listens, I can’t get used to the clean vocals combined with blast beats afterwards, as well as the bridge and the ending do next to nothing for me. The band turns the corner by the time the second part of the refrain kicks in, but that’s it. Overall, I feel that this song sounds more like it was composed of several different parts that don’t chime together. I know people who absolutely love this song, though, so you may want to hear for yourself.
After two rather unspectacular tracks, “Petrichor By Sulphur” arrives at the right moment: an over five minutes mid-tempo track with a divine intro riff and a modern feel, especially during the chorus, that actually exceeded all my expectations. This track, like the first two songs, really showcases what Soilwork are capable of. I especially love the drumming, the guitar solo and the changes of tempo, which sound very natural this time. On top, “Petrichor By Sulphur” is a great sing-along, too.
“The Phantom”, a more straight-forward track, has a slightly spooky feel to it and slows down a bit halfway through, but doesn’t seem to build up to a certain highlight I was expecting to hear. Luckily, “The Ride Majestic (Aspire Angelic)” is a very nice, fresh sounding and interesting track that aroused my interest very quickly.
“Whirl Of Pain” gets really good halfway through, too, as the whole song explodes into the chorus – I especially dig the vocals: They are very intelligently written and emotionally executed. ”All Along Echoing Paths” kicks off heavy and technical, gets more groovy during the verses and very melodic during the refrain. Another stellar track is the up-tempo and riff-centered “Shining Lights”.
Lastly, “Father And Son Watching The World Go Down” is the longest and the most melodic track on the record. I actually expected a huge and superior finale, which I sadly didn’t get to hear. I don’t really know if I should blame my hopes for this song or the song itself, but the bottom line is that it couldn’t quite win me over.

First of all, the Swedes’ latest full-length is – as always – a greatly produced and executed piece of music. Also, I really embrace the fact that Soilwork tried to give their songs a different feeling than before. It shows that they are willing to grow musically and there are many songs on The Ride Majestic that prove their success in this regard. However, a bunch of songs are rather unspectacular, lack spontaneity and a certain vision during the songwriting process, hence feel rather weak when executed from beginning to end. For those reasons, these tracks really make an impact on the album’s quality.

In conclusion, I’m of two minds about The Ride Majestic, because on the one hand, it presents many absolutely mind-blowing tracks that sound 100% like Soilwork, but still have a great melancholic and epic atmosphere to them and that contain so many new and fresh ideas, but on the other hand, there are quite some average songs or ones that aren’t remarkable enough on this record. But to end this review on a positive note, I do believe that the great songs outweigh them. To state that this record is disappointing would be exaggerated, because it really isn’t. As mentioned, there are some truly amazing moments on The Ride Majestic that really stick in the listener’s mind. This is definitely not The Living Infinite, musically as well as qualitatively, but still a solid album.

Tracklist:

1. The Ride Majestic 4:09
2. Alight In The Aftermath 3:47
3. Death In General 4:59
4. Enemies In Fidelity 4:16
5. Petrichor By Sulphur 5:11
6. The Phantom 3:57
7. The Ride Majestic (Aspire Angelic) 4:46
8. Whirl Of Pain 5:02
9. All Along Echoing Paths 4:21
10. Shining Lights 3:43
11. Father And Son Watching The World Go Down 5:40

Playing time: 49:51

Release date: 28th of August, 2015

Label: Nuclear Blast Records

Website: www.soilwork.org

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