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Friday, August 19, 2016

ALBUM REVIEW: Soilwork roll on with album number 10 - Death Resonance

I will open this review by putting my hand up and admitting I never quite got Soilwork. I will happily place the blame with myself but every snippet I heard over the years gave me no inkling or incentive to check the band out further so when I saw this album up for grabs I decided it was time to sit down and do a proper job and give a band that has survived in this business for over 20 years a chance.

Death Resonance is album number 10 and going by what is on display here I have to ask was my head up my ass? This is an outstanding album with everything you could expect from the melodic death metal genre (don’t you just love these sub genres?). You have the power, the calm, the growls, the almost operatic and all twisted around nine new tracks and six remixes.

This is a powerhouse of a release that shows exactly why this band have stood the test of time...the quality throughout is breathtaking as is the blending of the sounds and genres.

The opener ‘Helsinki’ is obviously close to these guys hearts and it starts like a lazy indie or Prog number before smashing your temples in with gravel vocals, guitars and an almighty beating of Odin’s chest in Sylvain Coudret’s drumming. The breakdown hits on an almost Nu Metal feel but this is one hell of a way to start an album.

The title track is next with its slashing guitars and guttural outbursts. The breakdown piece builds to a cacophony of sound which leaves you wondering how much is going on in there? The chorus becomes a symphonic masterpiece.

‘The End Begins Below The Surface’ starts with a dream whispy almost tripped out guitar and just burst into a speed metal battle. This is so fast, furious and in your face my skin hurts, my ears are bleeding and I cannot wipe the smile off my face. ‘My Nerves, Your Everday Tool’ has us soaring to magnificent heights. It builds enough to let you breathe before the brutality kicks in. The guitar work of David Andersson and Markus Wibom is blinding in the background and chorus work is beautiful.

‘These Absent Eyes’ brings Dirk Verbeuren on keyboards to the fore with a simple piano intro. It haunts you once again before you beat yourself blind with one of the heaviest numbers on this platter. ‘Resisting The Current’ is a far more accessible number for those of you who like me have never given these guys their due. It is steeped in the 90s and that time when the metal splintered and the sub genres became ad finitum. It is at the melodic end for these guys but it works a treat and for me it was a real suprise and instantly one of my favourite tracks.

With ‘When Sound Collides’ you get exactly that, the melodic intro, the speed/thrash kicker and the all hope is lost killer edge. As I listen to this I realise this band has the breakdown to perfection. When they hit it I am lifted to another level and I am loving every tempo change.

‘Forever Lost In Vain’ comes bursting out your speakers like an 80s classic. It has that NWOBHM sound that Maiden perfected...the original kings of tempo changes led the way for bands like this even if you cannot recognise the link.

The last original track is ‘Sweet Demise’ and we dip our toes in that symphonic pond again and why not as these guys have it nailed down. This time we do not lead into the harsh vocals, we get the angelic side and this to my ears was also a beautiful track. It takes you full circle from the opener and this one will be a monster live. The next 5 tracks are all older numbers with a new twist. I am going to leave this to the old heads to make up their minds. I do not feel I am qualified in the steeped heritage of Soilwork to pass on my opinion, all I will say is that I am not a real fan of remixes full stop, not unless you are going for something completely new and distorted and even then I have the ‘Oh why did you do that’ opinion. It is a well known fact that the first version of a song you end up loving will never be topped.

I hang my head in shame today and I apologise directly to soilwork for letting them pass me by but I can promise you now I will make up for it and I will be first in the Queue for tickets when they next hit these shores. This is a stunning album.

Review  Ritchie Birnie

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