Soilwork- The Ride Majestic
FFO- Melodic Death Metal, Progressive Metal
Soilwork has been a staple in Metal since their debut, Steelbath Suicide back in 1998. So how is the band holding up 17 years later? Like many bands in that amount of time, they have changed almost drastically. Although the band does keep their MDM roots in check, the band, now a days, is focusing much more on a proggier approach to songwriting, The Ride Majestic almost marks a turning point in the band, in which they are continuing to blend chaos with beauty. A great example of this is one of the sexiest ways to play Metal: Blast Beats Over Clean Vocals. The Ride Majestic also showcases a very mature approach to songwriting, no added segments, just because, no extra frills and shakes, just solid playing. Now how does this album compare to the past?
The albums tarts with the title track, The Ride Majestic. It starts with a slower, bluesy guitar riff before coming in with complete devastation and heaviness. What really sells the song is the melodic guitar over the heaviness. The song hearkens back to the days of Figure Number Five in the verse and the chorus of The Living Infinite. Alight In The Aftermath starts off extremely heavy with vibes going back all the way to Steelbath Suicide in parts. This is the first example of doing blast beats over clean vocals. The song goes through many tempo and style variations with a very bluesy solo in between the acts of chaos the rest of the song is. Death In General starts off with some guitar feedback and guitar in the background before the drums kick in with a tom assault. The main riff is a bluesy metal riff over a Meshuggah style beat. While still fast, this is one of the slower songs on the album verse wise. Then mind screws you with some blast beats before the second chorus. Enemies In Fidelity is one of the highlights of the album. It hints at the Figure Number Five and Stabbing The Drama eras of the band with a chorus that blows you away and is the best example of blast beats over clean vocals as the chorus (seriously, how sexy is this?). Petrichor By Surfer is a more dancey, almost pop metal song with a very haunting chorus. If mainstream radio gave it a chance, this would be a great single to have on Top 40 Rock. The Phantom is the most surprising song on the album because it touches on a genre you'd never expect, Black Metal. It even has some Black Metal screams in the beginning of the song. It completely feels like a mix of Melodic Death Metal and Black Metal (that's a genre that should be started asap!). The Ride Majestic (Aspire Angelic) is essentially Soilwork does Dream Theater, but with more blast beats. A part two of the title track if you will, lyrically. Whirl Of Pain starts off with a somber guitar riff and continues on with the slowest song of the album. Even with this being a “ballad” it is still incredibly heavy. All Along Echoing Pain is one of the more mid tempo songs on the album and again, has a Dance Metal feel to it though most of the song. This is quickly changed as soon as blast beats come into play. This could turn into a really great remix if someone decides to give it that kind of attention. Shining Lights is without question fastest song on the album. While the whole song isn't just about speed, it does tears everything apart in it's way with aggression and the right amount of melodicness. Father And Son Watching The World Go Down has a very Progressive Metal vibe throughout due in part to the keyboards and the drums. It has one of the most epic feeling choruses on the album and absolutely perfect closer to the album.
The Ride Majestic is, without question, the highlight of Soilwork's career so far. Everyone is performing at their absolute best. The absolute star of this album is Dirk Verbeuren. I had the pleasure of talking to Dirk a couple years back in support of The Living Infinite and at the time of the interview, he referred to Soilwork as similar to playing in AC/DC where he can, for the most part, relax and groove, compared to what he normally does outside of Soilwork. That is no longer the case. On this album he is balls to the wall from start to finish and showcasing some of his most impressive drum work he has ever recorded. I didn't think it was possible for Soilwork to out-due themselves with the double album, The Living Infinite, but they have shattered all my expectations and released possibly the finest albums in the world of Melodic Death Metal. The Ride Majestic gives to meaning to the words Brutality, Chaos, Melody and Perfection!
Soilwork- The Ride Majestic available now via Nuclear Blast Records
Darkest Hour has been one the underground Melodic Death Metal/Metalcore bands that most recognition for 2005's Undoing Ruin and 2007's Deliver Us (both produced by Devin Townsend by the way). The band has been going strong since 1995, and they are continuing on with their 8th album, their self titled album, Darkest Hour. This is their first album for Sumerian Records and the first to feature bassist Aaron Deal and drummer Travis Orbin. it is safe to say with this album that they are hitting some new genre territories they have yet to explore.
The album starts with the song, Wasteland. It already starts off heavier than most of their past material for their use of downtuning and 7 strings which makes it's first appearance strongly in the band's history. The song has that heavy chug sound (some call it Djent) but the song carries itself in the way any Darkest Hour song would. Strong clean choruses, fast riffing and fantastic soloing. Next is the shortest song on the album, Rapture in Exhile, which just blows you away from the second it starts. Fast, thrashy, and HEAVY! The Misery We Make comes up next and oddly enough, it does sound very commercial. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it definitely is a song that could fit well on Top 40 Hard Rock Radio (IF they are ok with clean vocals with an occasional scream for emphasis. If All That Remains, In Flames, and Demon Hunter can be, Darkest Hour sure can as well. Up next is Infinite Eyes. It starts off with a very grand sounding guitar riff before going into some nice Melodeath riffing. The solo on this one is one of the finest solos on the album. The whole song has a nice faster midpace feel to it, a nice driving sound that Darkest Hour always seems to achieve with ease. Futurist follows up and oddly enough it is another song that could easily fit in Top 40 Hard Rock Radio. Very minimal use of screams and focuses on a style of poppier clean vocals that isn't normally heard in the band. The Great Oppressor comes in charging and heavy. It features on of the best choruses in the album. It's quite reminiscent of the faster songs of In Flames. Anti-Axis is next and again it features a downtuned chug throughout. Djent fans would really appreciate this one. The chorus is quite catchy. Unlike most Darkest Hour songs, instead of a solo there is a Breakdown section that may catch people by surprise. It's not until the last few seconds of the song where you hear a guitar lead, so that can count as a solo. The album takes a mellow, but very tom heavy approach in the next song, By The Starlight. The song features DRÆMINGS on background and shared main vocals. Toward the middle of the song it picks up a bit with distortion and double bass, but ends with a very ethereal vibe. Lost For Life pummels it's way next and it is a killer thrashy song that is relentless. Short, thrashy, and sweet. The Goddess Figure comes up next and is a nice midtempo number to start off with then gets fast and thrashy. It also features one of the best choruses on the album. Beneath The Blackening Sky is classic Darkest Hour. Much like a song that would fit in Undoing Run or Deliver Us. Hypatia Rising starts off with a nice acoustic riff with the heaviness in the background in a cool Classic Metal vibe. When the song fully kicks in, again, it is classic Darkest Hour. A great blend of Melodeath and Metalcore. The final track is Departure. It starts off with and orchestral section then leads into clean vocals and riffs that match well with the more poppy songs on the album. This, once more, can fit quite well on Top 40 Hard Rock radio, but as a 2nd or 3rd single, after the band gets more established to that audience. The orchestral parts continue on through most of the rest of the song as does the clean vocals being the main choice for style. The song ends much as it began as the orchestra fades away.
As mentioned before, Darkest Hour hits some new territory on this album, and if marketed right, this very well could launch them on mainstream radio. This may discourage some fans, and may encourage even more. Overall, Darkest Hour put out another solid album and only time will tell as to where this could lead them in the future.
Darkest Hour- Darkest Hour Available August 5th via Sumerian Records
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)