Genre: Death Metal – Melodic Death Metal – Rock
Release date: 11th of January
Released via Nuclear Blast
Cover artwork © Nuclear Blast 2019
What is reality? Is there actually such a thing as reality or are there just shared moments that constitute mutual experiences? There definitely was an episode of reality when my ears got acquainted with Swedish Death Metal legend Soilwork’s latest and 11th release, which tries to discuss the question of reality thus going by the name of Verkligheten (reality). Verkligheten marks the 11th release of the Swedish Death Metal legend. The quintet releases their first album with new drummer Bastian Thusgaard, replacing their former member Dirk Verbeuren. The last time I heard about Soilwork I was about 15 years old, so it had been a long time since I listened to their songs. This having been during the mid-2000s, I vaguely remembered a decent Death Metal sound.
The album opens up gloomily with the title track, presenting a situation that urges the listener to expect something big. Surprise – you are not disappointed. Then, “Arrival” kicks off, which is the most massive banger on this release – if you were expecting straightforward Death Metal. This track instantly jumps into a fast blast beat with an epic melodic seasoning. When the song heads towards the refrain – however – we are shown the bigger picture of the record, since Strid’s vocals form the entire song into a bold anthem.
The album continues with massive Death Metal elements. These elements, though, are gradually omitted in an ongoing process throughout the first five tracks. When comparing to their former work The Ride Majestic, it becomes evident that the band wanted to plunge even deeper into their love for Rock ‘n’ Roll music. The riffs on “Full Moon Shoals” clearly show that the guitars are in love with 80s Rock. This song also strips off a big deal of Soilwork’s Death Metal elements and we can see the entire band shine in their ability to play decent rock – eventually turning this song into a Death Metal banger as well. This also marks one major positive point about the album. When first listening, I was a little shocked, since I expected their sound from the mid-2000s. Soilwork, however, succeeds in writing memorable Rock songs that never get rid of their Death Metal roots. Every downtuned Rock riff or additional growling throughout a Rock anthem shows – this band wants to embrace another style of playing while at no point stripping off their Death Metal. Hence, the entire album consistently feels like Soilwork, although the music we hear sounds differently. (It needs to be mentioned that I had to relisten major parts of their discography to get back into ‘that’ Soilwork sound)
After “Full Moon Shoals”, the tracks continuously armor up again with Death Metal elements, eventually arriving at “The Wolves Are Back In Town” that tries to reconnect with the Death Metal-esque feeling of the opener. The Death Metal elements always remain present throughout the entire album, no matter if more or less obvious. The intention to highlight the feeling of a Death Metal album, though, does not succeed all the time. At some points, especially the blast beats are so overly produced that – in connection with the Rock elements of the album – the combination does not convey the probably intended vigor. The general feeling that is constructed on this album sometimes eases out the more aggressive parts. Additionally, it is quite difficult to get used to this sound when the last thing you heard from Soilwork was an extreme Death Metal roundhouse kick. Don’t get me wrong – music groups progress, their music progresses and so does their playing style. This progress, though, added up with the production of the album sounds a little more rocky than Death Metal.
All in all it can be said that Verkligheten is a solid work that blatantly points at Soilwork’s ability to blend Rock and Death Metal and can thus get in line with their former releases. Those fans who are in love with Soilwork on their last releases can be guaranteed to enjoy Verkligheten.
light 7 / 10
What about you? Is there anything you disagree with or that needs to be added? If so – feel free to state your opinion in the comments.