I don’t always listen to Swedish melodic death metal, but when I do, I listen to Soilwork. And this is why.
The first taste of the band’s upcoming double album The Living Infinite, slated for a March release, is sure to have fans licking their chops and throwing around phrases like “return to form.” I won’t be one of those. I’ve rarely been disappointed by Soilwork, and I really like most of the other albums that fans consider their weakest. Even so, this supercharged slab of adrenaline and aggression just caused me to put a circle around March 5 on my calendar.
“Spectrum of Infinity” opens with a soft keyboard and strings intro and then surprises the listener with a quick transition to a snarling beast of a metal tune. Drummer Dirk Verbeuren blasts away at the drums and singer Bjorn “Speed” Strid roars over the chaos. The pair are the stars of the show here.
For me, Strid initially drew me in as a fan of the band years ago. The word “death” in a band’s description usually immediately conjures up thoughts of the monotonous, grunting, often indecipherable vocals that many people refer to as “cookie monster” vocals. Strid, though, can actually sing. Yes, he can roar, growl and scream, but on the more melodic end, he’s quite versatile, and he shows that here. There’s plenty of rage in the verse, but then he his some nice melodic spots over Verbeuren’s blast beats on the chorus. He has the power to match the music, which is something a lot of death metal vocalists lack.
After a couple of verses, the tune slows down a bit for a melodic interlude before blazing guitar solo kicks it back into high gear. It’s about as good an example of the Gothenburg sound at its best as you can find. It’s heavy as hell, but at the same time quite melodic and memorable.
True, double albums are tricky with most containing only enough material for one really good record. It’s even more tricky in the extreme metal genres where a sense of monotony can set in after a certain number of songs. If there’s a band out there that can pull it off, though, my money would be on Soilwork.