2019 marks 21 years since the release of Soilwork’s debut album, Steelbath Suicide. Since then, the band has changed formed in so many ways. The more brutal they get, the more melodic they also get. In that time making albums that are more on the mainstream side, while making albums that are as heavy as the band could ever imagine to be. Since 2010’s The Panic Broadcast, they have found a magic formula that combines all of their strongest attributes and improves upon them with every release. Verkligheten (meaning ‘Reality’ in Swedish) is an album that sees this trend hit even harder., faster, heavier and melodic in all the ways that truly makes the band stand out. How so? Allow me to explain.
The album begins with the title track which is a nearly 2 minute intro track that hints at what is to come in the next track. Filled with a twangy and atmospheric edge, you constantly feel it growing and growing until it is about to explode, and it finally does leading into the track, Arrival. Anyone that was worried when former drummer, Dirk Verbeuren left the band on the previous album (to join Megadeth) should not fear as new drummer, Bastian Thusgaard captures what you love about the recent decade of Soilwork albums with insane blast beats, phenomenal fills, and impeccable timing...and that’s just the intro of the song! The song in question hits those amazing, blistering riffs mixed with an epic chorus of blasts and clean vocals (the sexiest combination in metal?). The atmosphere really takes over in the middle of the track is dissonant guitar riffs and keyboard soundscapes before leading to an astounding guitar solo. Which of course leads to another rendition of the chorus that is just a beautiful thing to hear. As I said, anyone who has enjoyed the last few Soilwork albums will love this track. Bleeder Despoiler starts off more straight ahead and mid tempo (for Soilwork anyways) before going into an off time verse riff that feels right at home with something off Stabbing The Drama. The dissonant, bluesy, guitars appear through this song a bit as well that gives the song a refreshing change of pace. The latter quarter of the song hits more of the atmospheric, proggy aspects of the band that has shined valiantly, adding for one of the most epic sounding moments on the album; bringing everything to a dramatic end before kicking off into the next song. Full Moon Shoals gives me a gigantic Images and Words by Dream Theater vibe. I can hear traces of Pull Me Under and Metropolis throughout. I seriously think this could be the song that could bring in the prog nerds in all of us to really appreciate Soilwork, if you don’t already. I know the screams may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for prog fans, those riffs are undeniable and the chorus will win you over. Though if straight up prog isn’t your thing, fret not, as the second half of the song goes full on thrash/melodeath for it’s bridge and solo, before bringing things back to it’s off time syncopated goodness. A personal favorite track of mine on this album. The Nurturing Glance starts off with a beautiful clean guitar riff that leads into some astounding double bass and screams, but done in a tasty and captivating way. Then as the song fully kicks in with the verse, it heads into nearly classic rock territory with some fantastic screams over top before leading to a majestic chorus with cleans, double bass, and superb riffing. It almost feels like a melodeath Rush song. Not too fast, not to mellow, a great pace for a band like this. When The Universe Spoke starts off again with a great clean guitar riff, but actually leads into one of the heaviest and grandiose riffs of the entire album. It literally feels like you have been rocketed into space and traveling the universe at the speed of light. The chorus is easily one of my favorite choruses in the band’s history. It feels like they took a nod from Hypocrisy throughout and really made it their own. The latter part of the song gives you a break in speed and focuses on atmosphere and melody right before it destroys you again with a final take on the chorus before exploding away.
The second half of the album begins with Stålfågel, a mid tempo track that fits right at some with something on Sworn To A Great Divide or Stabbing The Drama, but done through a 2019 filter. This has the potential to be a huge hit song for the band if it goes that way. If you like the non extreme side of Soilwork, this is a great song for you. The Wolves Are Back In Town, along with being the shortest full track on the album, actually kinda does feel like a particular band the name loving pays tribute to (Thin Lizzy for those lost on the reference). It’s a faster, but undeniably catchy song. If you think of modern melodeath, this song perfectly captures it. A simply fun track. Witan starts off with a guitar riff that feels like a blend of classic rock and black metal. Much like if Thin Lizzy and Tribulation wrote a song together, but it quickly changes into classic, mid-era Soilwork work in the verse with noble and glorious chorus power from everyone in the band. Another solid track from the band. The Ageless Whisper starts off with some southern rock style clean guitar over some...whispers. This is another track that screams SINGLE to me to grab the non-extreme metal fans out there and maybe bring them to the dark side. When it fully kicks in it has a dance, heartbeat tempo that’s impossible not to nod your head along with and keep you there till the end. When it finally hits the guitar solo, it’s short, but so passionate and memorable. This is one of those songs that just feels like it would be so anthemic live. The song slowly fades into the next song, Needles and Kin. If you were worried that the end of the album was just going to be slower songs, this should change your mind. It picks right back up with a nice thrashy pace and absolutely beautiful atmosphere. The chorus on this track very well may be my favorite Amorphis frontman, Tomi Joutsen, contributes to this song and he makes an already amazing song even better with his signature growls. Hearing him scream over Speed’s clean vocals is a thing of wonder. I know I’ve said a few songs could be singles here, but this would be an absolute shame if it isn’t a single, this has potential to be the song of the year and 2019 hasn’t even started yet as I write this up! The chorus is another thing of beauty as well, fits so perfectly for the song. The song just hits home for any fan of Soilwork, no matter the era you started listening. The album ends with Your Aquiver, another foot stomper, heartbeat tempo, powerhouse of a song. It’s an infectious headbanger of a song. That really captures a catchy side of the band that is always hinted at, but never to this much of an extent, and wow, does it work. This is a no frills song, but I feel like any frills added to this song would take away it’s power. It’s a perfect song to get people jumping live and it does it splendidly.
Overall, Verkligheten hits you on so many levels. If you want extreme, it’s here. If you want melodic, you got it! If you want what will be one of the best albums of 2019, it’s wrapped up here in an epic 12 track album with twist turns, and beautiful chaos. Fans new and old will get something to appreciate about this album, especially that satisfaction that Soilwork has yet to peak in their mindblowing sound.
For more insight into the album, check out my latest interview with Speed, here:
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)