are the anti-In Flames
, in a way. Whereas In Flames
went from a guitar-driven sound melodic death metal, to infusing melo death with alternative metal sensibilities, Soilwork
have done the exact opposite. After Peter Wichers, the band’s lead songwriter, left the band for the second time in 2012
began immediately to cover their loss and followed up with The Living Infinite
in 2013, a sprawling double album that, in every sense of purpose,. Not only was the album an excellent and career-redeeming release, nearly every song on the album was highly enjoyable and infectious, right until the heavy, droning closing number of the second disk. Following critical praise and two years of touring, Soilwork
are back with The Ride Majestic
, and the band could not be in a better place musically had they wished it.
I’d be say a lot if I were to say Soilwork
were in the prime of their career, but between The Living Infinite
and The Ride Majestic
, it’s obvious that these are the best songs they’ve written thus far. The Ride Majestic
is more sonically impressive and savage than its predecessor, and is constantly moving forward at breakneck speed, and while slower and simpler songs are few and far between, The Ride Majestic
further brings out the true meaning of “melodic” and “death metal.” Neither conforming to the old ways of At the Gates
and Heartwork-era Carcass
, nor the more alternative inspired versions like In Flames
or Sonic Syndicate
are starting their second wind.
The title track opens the album in glorious fashion, as soaring guitar melodies fly over drummer Dirk Verbeuren’s pounding drum parts. It’s one thing to notice Verbeuren’s impressive endurance as soon as he enters the album, but with how they perfectly fit under Soilwork
’s dual-guitar attacks, it’s evident how essential he has been to the band’s core sound since 2005’s Stabbing the Drama
instantly, Verbeuren has only become more of a drumming powerhouse since then.
While rhythmically Soilwork
is untouchable on The Ride Majestic
, it’s in the guitar duo of Sylvian Coudret and David Andersson that help propel the album to new heights in the same way they did on The Living Infinite
. Writing the music has been split by the two guitarists and vocalist Bjorn “Speed” Strid
, and on tracks like “Petrichor by Sulphur
” it becomes apparent that the three songwriters are of the same mindset. Guitar parts flow together with perfectly placed harmonies, tempo shifts, and changes in the dynamics that progress naturally; nothing on this album is forced.
’s vocal work should be taken note, as he has given a stronger performance than that on The Living Infinite
. Interesting enough, Strid
has taken a more aggressive stance with his vocal delivery and it’s opening moments like on “The Phantom
” where you can hear the strain he’s putting on himself to deliver something monstrous. Despite
this aggressive take, Strid
still makes use of his clean vocals effectively. On tracks like “Whirl of Pain
” and “Death in General,” Strid
tastefully uses his cleans, but also allows his screams to be melodic, as well. Strid
’s ability as a musician has grown with Soilwork
and it’s evident that he’s become a force to be reckoned with in the melo death scene.
With all these nice things to say, however, it’s unfortunate to hear Soilwork
try and condense so much into the mix of the album. While you can hear everything, it’s more so a matter of the quality of it, with everything so compressed together without any layering done. Guitar rhythms could have been clearer and quieter, drums could have been turned down a little bit… Little things could have been done to preserve the album more and to allow more of the keyboards and bass to come through while still being a vocally driven album.
Regardless, though, The Ride Majestic
should be taken note of, not for just being another great Soilwork
album, but for pushing the melodic death metal envelope for 2015. It’s hard to imagine a melo death album as strong as this one to come out this year, so take advantage of this chance and become acquainted with Soilwork
, this is them in their absolute prime.