January 7, 2019 Soilwork – Verkligheten (Album Review)
It has been four years since we last heard from Soilwork, but fear not! They are poised to kick off 2019 with a bang with Verkligheten. Nuclear Blast delivers the all killer, no filler collection this Friday, January 11, 2019.
Formed in 1995 in Helsingborg, Sweden, but composed of an international smattering of musicians, Soilwork are no inferior breed (see what we did there?): they’ve been recording and touring the world for over twenty years now. Initially, they placed their name on the Metal map with their 1998 debut, Steelbath Suicide, before cementing their talents with albums such as 2000’s The Chainheart Machine, 2005’s Stabbing the Drama, 2010’s The Panic Broadcast, and 2015’s The Ride Majestic.
With ten albums to date, Soilwork have shown a dedication to their craft that places them amongst the upper echelon of the Melodic Death Metal scene. It’s no shock that they have been able to tour alongside some of their finest contemporaries, the likes of In Flames, Cannibal Corpse, Dark Tranquility, Anthrax, Children of Bodom, Fear Factory, Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage, and many, many more.
It’s no shock to any fan that Soilwork — Vocalist Bjorn “Speed” Strid, Guitarists David Andersson and Sylvain Coudret, Drummer Bastian Thusgaard, and Keyboardist Sven Karlsson — have endured where many others have fizzled. For their eleventh full-length studio offering, Verkligheten (which translate to “Reality”), the quintet offer up twelve stellar tracks that coalesce into a stunning darkness.
Verkligheten opens to its namesake, a musical introduction that sets the mood with emotive guitars that bleed right into the massive, heart-stopping entry of “Arrival,” kicking the collection off in fierce style with racing guitar theatrics and some deliciously dark growls. However, let’s face it, one of the greatest hallmarks of Soilwork’s sound is Strid’s truly striking melodic vocals.
The monstrous Metal mayhem continues into a blend of daring aggression and towering power on “Bleeder Despoiler” before they shift to an initially moodier vibe on “Full Moon Shoals.” Here, Soilwork play around with a more progressive approach to Rock (Dream Theater and Amorphis both come to mind), authoring a gritty, yet melodic journey that travels through hills and valleys to craft something technically resplendent and ear-catching. The guitar work on “The Nurturing Glance” goes lofty before the band dip into a sleazy groove, dancing toward catchy choruses that merge into a five-minute-plus experience that, much like the entirety of Verkligheten, is a reminder of the exceptional talents of Soilwork.
Newest band member, Thusgaard, goes for jack-hammering drum work on the exceptional “When the Universe Spoke.” Painting a truly ominous vibe that contrasts sumptuously with the track’s passion-filled choruses, this is one song that goes gruff and does so with a wondrous payoff. Meanwhile, “Stålfågel” (“Steel Bird”) sees the band returning to their expertly-crafted progressive approach, unbound and traveling to new, interplanetary heights.
“The Wolves Are Back in Town” sounds just as its title connotes: Soilwork are in-your-face, reclaiming their due — fists (and hackles) raised. “Witan” takes this and amps it up to gruff and pummeling levels, creating a driving rocker with sing-along-worthy choruses. Everything previous seems to culminate with “The Ageless Whisper,” an infectious explosion of sound that pulses and growls alongside a steady, at times danceable, beat.
Tomi Joutsen of Amorphis comes on board for the brutal slay of “Needles and Kin,” which builds up to some of the most epic choruses of the entire collection. Riding high, Soilwork close out their latest masterpiece with rocker “You Aquiver,” which features Dave Sheldon on guitar. It’s a representation of Verkligheten as a whole, boiled down to one epic finale that will leave a smile on your face and your Metal horns waving in the air.
We all know that reality is a bitch, but for Soilwork, it’s a truly breathtaking example of what passion can create. Blending all elements of heavy music into their approach, Soilwork take what most singular-minded bands do, turn it onto its side, and then attack every single note with an adept precision. Verkligheten sees the band firing on all cylinders, producing a gallant expression of their love for their craft. You would be hard-pressed to find any filler on Verkligheten and for this very reason, Cryptic Rock give Soilwork’s latest 5 of 5 stars.
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