For more than two decades, Swedish stalwarts Soilwork have been releasing consistent albums, even as their sound evolved. They have had numerous lineup changes over the years, with the consistent factor being frontman Bjorn “Speed” Strid. On their latest release Verkligheten (the Swedish word for reality) they had to replace longtime drummer Dirk Verbeuren, now a member of Megadeth. His large shoes are being filled by Bastian Thorsgaard (Dawn Of Demise, The Arcane Order).
After the mellow and slightly twangy interlude/instrumental title track, the album launches with the aptly titled “Arrival” as Thursgaard immediately makes his presence felt with machine gun drumming on the sometimes intense, other times melodic track. That’s the framework of many of the songs: heaviness alternating with catchy melodies.
“Full Moon Shoals” is more groove-laden, then goes into galloping thrash mode before easing up and has both harsh and melodic vocals from Strid. Guitarists David Andersson and Sylvain Coudret throw a few different styles into the mix, such as some hard rock licks on “The Nurturing Glance.”
Verkligheten includes a couple of guest appearances, including Arch Enemy’s Alissa White-Gluz on “Stålfågel.” It’s one of the record’s most memorable songs, with Strid’s smooth melodies contrasted by White-Gluz’s powerful growls along with a killer guitar solo. The other guest vocalist is Amorphis’ Tomi Joutsen on “Needles and Kin,” a dense track with a lot of heaviness.
Some of the opener’s twanginess is revisited on the intro of “The Ageless Whisper,” which quickly amps up into full metal mode. Album closer “You Aquiver” ends the album on a rousing note with a brisk tempo and accessible chorus.
Soilwork have worked with numerous producers over the years, from Fredrik Nordstrom on their early albums to Peter Wichers, Jens Bogren and David Castillo on more recent efforts. This time around they worked with Thomas “Plec” Johansson (The Night Flight Orchestra, Scar Symmetry), who mastered their 2016 compilation Death Resonance.
Though they don’t venture very far outside the musical box they’ve inhabited for the past few albums, Soilwork execute that style very well on Verkligheten. The musicianship is excellent throughout, and Strid does a great job on both the harsh vocals and melodic singing. Fans of the band will be pleased.
(released January 11, 2019 on Nuclear Blast)
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Watch Soilwork – “Full Moon Shoals” Video