Label: Nuclear Blast
Release Date: March 5, 2013
A band that was called Inferior Breed to start off with has been known to create total counter productive chaos in the world of melodic death metal. Whom am I talking about? It’s no one but the Swedish metal heavyweights, Soilwork. Yes, they’re one of the bands accused of bending over to the mainstream by changing their style of play from melodic death metal to metalcore. But anyway, a band that is just two years short of a twenty year career, sure do know what they’re doing. After a three-year break, they come out with, The Living Infinite, their ninth studio album. Long story short, this album is a great amalgamation of The Chainheart Machine era and the Figure Number Five era. Sure, this is a roller-coaster ride with its ups and downs and maybe a bit too long for the restricted diversity they have produced, but enjoyable nonetheless. Will this be marked as a commendable comeback by the band? We’ll see.
This record boasts of a shocking and whopping 80 minutes with twenty songs in total. *Takes deep breath*. This mammoth sized marathon begins with, “Spectrum of Eternity”. The track takes off with magical symphonic intro. The one you hear, when you get the feeling that something big is going to happen. And blast away! Yes. I could feel it coming. With that very suspense filled note, our journey through The Living Infinite begins. With beastly blast-beats, devourable melodic riffs, and hypnotic overpowering vocals, I can feel the power of melodic death metal run like electricity in my body. And my god, does it feel good or what? The great blend of cleans and high growls/screams, very much like Scar Symmetry are quite noticeable and well done. It dances off into a slow melodic chugfest just to begin with David Andersson, the new guitarist of the band, showcasing his talent to the fan-base with one ripper of a solo. It starts off real slow and melodic, again maintaining that suspense that makes you think, right before hitting you with some in-your-face, fast shredding. Yes, he PERFECTLY fits in the band. The riffs throughout the song are unique and very melodic. The next song “Memories Confined” begins with a with a slow melodic riff which chugs all through the song quite painfully. The solo starts off slow and stays short. This surely is a drop from the epic beginning. Like I said, this album is a roller coaster ride with its ups and downs, and pros and cons, but more of the pros. So read on, earthlings.
Sure, 80-85 minutes is pretty much close to an average movie’s length, but Soilwork has done a lot for you to keep you astray from boredom. This album breaks all boundaries of melodeath or metalcore by adding its own tiny touches of variety, like the dark, Spanish flamenco-like acoustic intros in, “The Living Infinite I“ and “Vesta”. There’s a bluesy touch in, “Whispers and Lights” to the great blend of two different sub-genres. And moreover, the whole album is studded with some quality guitar solos. If I had to pick three tracks from this album, it wouldn’t do justice to the number of amazing songs, so I will take you through every one of the best songs in the record.
“This Momentary Bliss” – This track, thank Odin, begins with a scintillating melodic intro. This is a perfect example that shows you how metal can touch your hearts by sounding beautiful, whilst remaining heavy as hell. The song is filled with different melodic riffs that embrace Bjorn Strid’s stunningly versatile vocals. The song moves onto a drum roll, to revert back to its melodic death metal sound. Man, the Soilwork we all missed, is back with a bang.
“Tongue” – Another great start with a crushing intro, makes way to the occasional clean vocals with the double kicks from skin-meister Dirk Verbeuren. The harsh clean vocals in the chorus are endearing and versatile. This just portrays his out of the world vocal range so well. The song eventually descends into a trance-like psychedelic tune. The solo starts off slowly with an Indian tune, but goes on to melt your face with some shreds which will surely make you air guitar, and the drummers, air drum to the drum pattern played in the background. Perfectly just then, the amazing chorus sets in. I actually had to save this song in my favorites list.
“Vesta” – This track mysteriously begins with a Spanish acoustic intro, that produces a hot, erotic, haunting sound. It moves on to a decent melodeath tune but the clean vocals here, again wins my heart. The same tune played in the beginning is now played on the lead. The track progresses to a catchy guitar bridge which complements the rest of the music, and eventually ends with the amazing chorus.
“Long Live Misanthrope” – The song begins magnificently. Pure melodeath, but far from generic with occasional cleans here and there. The solo is pretty much the highlight of the album. It starts off with a progressive, oriental feel just to go on and speed up. It’s surely the best song on the record, by far.
Some songs that deserve an honorable mention are, “Let the First Wave Rise”. This one will surely get the audience going when played live. It has catchy lyrics that will undoubtedly make you sing along. The song is fast, not at all watered down, and ends with a predictably fast solo. “Realm of the Wasted”, has this tiny blues bridge, accompanying the groovy riffs, the alternate growls and high-pitched cleans. It ends with a really good keyboard solo. “The Windswept Mercy” is a refreshing hard rock song with some metal influences, and to finish off with, “Drowning with Silence”, nothing spectacular, but the only song that actually has an evident bass guitar bridge in it.
Now as you can see, they have raised the bar high when it comes to variety, but was it enough to keep you entertained like a thrilling movie? Maybe, just barely. Moreover, the title tracks divided into two are forgettable. Quite a few songs have a lot of overused breakdowns, and worst of all, the album ends on a bland, and boring note. While everyone have come together and put in their hard-work in this huge album, Ola Flink on the bass, and Sven Karlsson on the keys were barely given any space or presence.
At the end of the day, hats off to the band. I would word this journey as a train that took a roundabout route, but reached its destination in the end. This is the first album that features the new guitarist, replacing Peter Wichers who left the band for the second time, and yes, David has done a great job. The album was produced by Jens Bogren who also produces for Bloodbath, Opeth, Amon Amarth and so on. The artwork was done by Mnemic’s Mercia Gabriel who had also done the artwork for Soilwork’s other album, Stabbing the Drama. “The Windswept Mercy” in fact features Justin Sullivan, from New Model Army, the Indie Rock pioneers that gave a hard rock touch to the song. I’d say this record will successfully bring together both the old Soilwork fans, and the new ones, thereby maybe just preparing us, for another bigger (No, not lengthwise hahaha) and better album next time. I’d say, just go buy the album, for it has a lot to offer.