SOILWORK - THE CHAINHEART MACHINE - CENTURY MEDIA
Whoa, this sophomore release from little-known Swedes mixes aggression-laden speed riffing a la Carcass or At The Gates with semi-technical composition (not far from late Pestilence say). And Century Media always on the hunt for a good bait, snaps these dudes up from their original label for a North American release. Sounds good? Not so fast wimp, this band has six members. That's right, Soilwork loses. They have a keyboardist. Just like that man-of-the-same-sex-inclination your little sister worships: Ricky Martin. Moving on... - Ali "The Metallian"
SOILWORK - NATURAL BORN CHAOS - NUCLEAR BLAST
The lads in Soilwork try too hard. The need to sell albums and crack markets is a given for any band that is looking at shifting units, but Natural Born Chaos is too blatantly commercial to gain any traction. First, listeners know they are in trouble when there are six guys in a band doing the job of five. The sixth guy is living his pop fantasy standing behind the keyboards. Secondly, Soilwork's new aggro rhythms and vocals add insult to injury. The singer's oscillation between trendy clear singing and those aggro screams is just too obvious. This one is for Kerrang (and their ilk) to praise and us metal fans to pass over.
SOILWORK - FIGURE NUMBER FIVE - NUCLEAR BLAST
This Soilwork's album is a surprise. This is the band whose last offerings were panned by metal fans for numerous mallcore tendencies and commercial leanings including weak vocals, electronica and forays into dance and techno music. While some of those elements still exist here, album number five (as if you could not figure it out!) has pushed the sixth member to the rear and minimized the synthesizers' presence. More good news is supplied by an abundance of fast and hard riffs throughout the songs. The band now comes across like a meeting of Sentenced and Pantera, neither of which are popular bands here at Metallian Towers, but at least demonstrate a certain amount of consideration by the band to abandoning the mallcore sound. A song like Overload is very close to Pantera. A certain Meshuggah guitar crunch also appears on the album. Soilwork has clearly penned its best album, which paired with the excellent sound and production is bound to make an even more of a compelling case for the fans. - Ali "The Metallian"
SOILWORK - SWORN TO A GREAT DIVIDE - NUCLEAR BLAST
I’ve always gotten the feeling that Soilwork doesn’t know what it is. Though the band has crafted two fantastically listenable records (2000’s The Chainheart Machine and 2002’s Natural Born Chaos), it’s no secret that Soilwork came to prominence with the Gothenburg scene and then abandoned it when that city started feeling just a little too crowded. As a result, Soilwork has been searching for identity for the better part of this decade and while Natural Born Chaos remains one of the group’s top records, even that album feels like the work of a band that doesn’t know itself entirely. On Sworn To A Great Divide, Soilwork’s existential malaise was probably worse than ever: founding member/principle song-writing Peter Wichers left the band prior to this new record, and Bjorn “Speed” Strid (vocals) and co. were left to deal with his loss. The result of all this upheaval is a heavier Soilwork album, though it doesn’t reach the heaviness of debut effort Steelbath Suicide (which feels like a long, long time ago indeed). Soilwork continues its growled verse/sung chorus formula that has served the band on previous records (and, unfortunately, helped pave the way for emocore) and throughout it all that feeling of identity confusion and self-questioning remains. Sworn To A Great Divide’s top track is the ferocious “The Pittsburgh Syndrome”, an excellent song to be sure -- if Sworn To A Great Divide had been filled with songs like that one, then Soilwork might have returned with a statement that could delineate its territory, something the band has never fully done before. But, alas, Soilwork continues to meander in middle zones that are sort of heavy, sort of catchy and, sometimes, sort of lame. To be fair, and as mentioned above, Sworn To A Great Divide is indeed Soilwork’s heaviest work since Natural Born Chaos and Strid’s vocals are probably stronger than they’ve ever been. And it does seem like Soilwork is trying to recapture the fire that catapulted the group to A-list status circa 2002. But too much filler has been released since then and, at the end of the day, there’s too much material that doesn’t soar on Sworn To A Great Divide which, really, is too bad. I guess the lesson here is that if you don’t know yourself at your beginnings, you surely won’t know who you are a decade on. - David Perri