Allow me to preface this with an open admission to losing interest in this band a very long time ago.
Sure I have checked in on them from time to time, but since the Natural Born Chaos album, they’ve never retained the magic or aggression that I crave when a band is put within the melodic death metal framework. But hey, you know what they say about opinions right?
After the polite self titled intro track rolls through the album proper begins with ‘Arrival’. Noticeable immediately is that the band know their formula, and aren’t going to stray too far from it, even with the addition of new drummer Bastian Thusgaard after Dirk Verbeuren left for Megadeth following the release of the last album. It contains everything a fan is now used to and expects: rapid blast beats, keyboard undertones and vocalist Bjorn ‘Speed’ Strid’s guttural scream that changes to a clean vocal harmony for the chorus. Very business as usual.
Despite the formulaic approach, the album does have a few stand outs. The first being the difficult to pin down ‘Full Moon Shoals’ that powers on effortlessly in a very modern metal format with hints of the aggression the band has long left behind. The next highlight is the Alissa White-Gluz co-vocal on ‘Stålfågel’ in which the concentration is on clean vocals, something Alissa does well but that isn’t often heard because of her current day job. The song itself is a very friendly hard rock staple that could easily be in high rotation on any local rock station and feels refreshing on the album because it is far from the formula that is in use everywhere else.
The delicacy of the track is shattered by one of the heaviest tracks on the album ‘The Wolves Are Back In Town’, driven predominantly by the drums. The only other highlight is performed with the assistance of vocalist Tomi Joutsen of Amorphis on ‘Needles & Kin’, another track where the focus isn’t entirely on Soilwork’s standard formula.
As much as I try to thoroughly enjoy this, it is just too much of the same thing over and over as Soilwork has done for a decade or more now. The fans will enjoy it immensely, but for the casual listener this is just more background noise.
- Bleeder Despoiler
- Full Moon Shoals
- The Nurturing Glance
- When The Universe Spoke
- The Wolves Are Back In Town
- The Ageless Whisper
- Needles & Kin
- You Aquiver