Soilwork – “The Ride Majestic” (Nuclear Blast Records)
Definitely not a band without controversy, I guess some people can’t get over the fact that like a lotta bands who change over time, Soilwork have done so too. Formed in the midst of Sweden’s melodic death genre back in the mid 90s, it’s hardly surprising that is how they sounded too, but over time have become influenced by metalcore from the US and in short, become less Scandinavian sounding. Then there’s the brutality, which I would say is less raw than it was, but is now more polished so that heavy chopping rhythms and even blast beats sit comfortably beside some of the most beautiful and intellectually crafted melodies that have always been a part of Soilwork’s sound, either to a great or lesser degree. “The Ride Majestic” certainly isn’t a blast to the past in appeasing some, neither is it another radical departure sure to cause further ructions, but more reflective of the band’s 20 years experience with plenty of variety in the material ranging from brutal to more soulful songs but always with a mellow death core and resplendent with those dazzling melodies. Despite its deathly cover, this is some of the most exciting and optimistic music that leaves one feeling emotionally hopeful indeed. From the blurring metalcore of the title track opener, Speed’s raw larynx vocals are measurably contrasted by sunshine harmonies, as is Dirk Verbeuren’s ferocious drum work by guitar melodies that have love written all over them. Later offering an ‘Aspire Angelic’ mid tempo version (Verbeuren excepted) of this number, there are certainly plenty of Scandi guitar melodies that clearly show Soilwork haven’t forgotten their roots, along with Speed’s deathly drawls. With ‘Petrichor By Sulphur’ mixing in a catchy US metalcore groove with some prog tranquility, it again shows the skill in composition and mastery in musicianship that make Soilwork who they are today. Likewise, ‘The Phantom’ takes us right back to the blurring blast beat days of the mid 90s, with Speed threatening to scream himself out, so I’m kinda thankful for those soulful vocals and what can I say about those breathtaking guitar solos – again simply mind blowing! Best of all for me though was the closer ‘Father And Son Watching The World Go Down’, a Scandi rock opus with bunches of emo harmonies and scintillating guitar melodies making this a very slick piece indeed – and if this is where Soilwork want to go, then I’m all for following them. Like I said, get over it.