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SOILWORK Övergivenheten

By Nathan Dufour, Great White North
Thursday, August 18, 2022 @ 7:56 AM


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SOILWORK
Övergivenheten

2022, Nuclear Blast




I once read a comment from a band whose name I cannot recall right now, in response to a “fan” lamenting how they preferred the band’s early material to new output. The response was basically that that is fine, and go listen to that material as it suits you. A younger me would scoff at the very idea, my head swirling with the now nebulous concepts of selling out and the adjacent poseurism that inevitably accompanies it. With age comes wisdom, so they say, and the above sentiment is valid and also very important in the context of any band you personally enjoy (or don’t). You may outgrow a band. They may outgrow you.

It has been 20 years since SOILWORK switched gears from a death metal monster to melo death masters, and they consistently have released a quality product. Balancing melody and ferocity can be a bit of a fool’s errand and, since everything old is new again you would be forgiven if you think the band are into repeating themselves. On 12th outing, Övergivenheten, has the band continued its growth, or should you just kindly stick with the oldies?

It bears mentioning that the new album is a full 25 minutes longer than its predecessor, clocking in at just over an hour. There is a lot to digest. I also had to fire up the Google machine to find out more about the title, which seems to be a bit of a trend lately. Learning is cool!

Övergivenheten translated into English means “the abandonment”. Marinate on that for a bit and think on the greater meaning (especially considering the last album title translated to "the reality"). Taken as a pair, the titles seem complimentary. Individually, well, that's another matter. The abandonment, it seems, is of expectation.

Call me crazy, but the first little bit of the title track reminds me of a Western with a little "Wanted Dead Or Alive" just to spice things up. The track kicks in after a brief intro, encapsulating everything that has makes SOILWORK amazingly enjoyable. Melody and aggression are balanced here, the underlying melody perhaps informed by THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA (who are awesome). Good start.

"Nous Sommes La Guerre" is a fantastic title, leaning into full AOR territory. That terrifies me. This is not what I want from SOILWORK. I am forced to contemplate, maybe, that growth metaphor above.

"Electric Again" fixes that, with a neck wrecking into blasting shit to bits before slowing right down into a showcase for Strid's vocals and blasting shit to bits. The riffs on display have good form, and the song writing is, predictably, top notch. SOILWORK does not at all suffer from the law of diminishing IN FLAMES. That's a professional term (and I have hope there too). The strings don't hurt. The see saw is ready.

From track to track, and within tracks, SOILWORK has abandoned playing one style - they're playing every style they have ever played. I mean, "Is It In Your Darkness" immediately calls back formative years, all the thrash and black metal, before an arena sized chorus and fantastically placed lead work. The lyrics are some of the best the band has come up. And the drums, I should mention them: the deep resonance is resplendent. You can feel it in your chest. This is what I want from SOILWORK.

Balance is a hard thing to achieve. As the album progresses, including through an interlude, SOILWORK balance the weight of expectation with a thousand mile stare dead ahead. Death metal collides with strings, blasts with AOR. At this point, we all know Speed can sing, but on every track on offer on Övergivenheten, he stretches out like never before on a SOILWORK album both in terms of vocal restraint and, well, not that at all. "This Godless Universe" has everything I just spoke of.

As I said, there is a lot to digest on Övergivenheten. Given enough time, and enough listens, you may just find yourself along with that back catalogue that keeps calling your name.

4.0 Out Of 5.0


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