Bjorn? Sven? Sylvain? David? Bastian? Rasmus? Good, you’re all here. Before we get started; Take off the chauffer’s cap, please Bjorn. We’re talking about Soilwork, not The Night Flight Orchestra. You should have known that. I thought I put it on the Outlook Calendar invite. Anyway, I’ve gathered all of you here to let you know I like you. I mean LIKE like you. We’ve had a lengthy, prosperous relationship, but lately, I’ve lost a little interest. Don’t cry, Sven. It’s okay. That doesn’t mean I want to leave you, it’s maybe just that the spark is gone. You’ve done a few things I didn’t love, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still care for you. Your last album was okay, but it left me wanting. I felt like maybe we were getting to the point of diminishing returns, like we were just hanging on, and it was only going to get worse. Then…

You recorded Övergivenheten AND COMPLETELY REDEEMED YOURSELVES! However, guys, don’t start patting yourselves on the back quite yet. SIT BACK DOWN. We’re going to do a little exercise called the “Compliment Sandwich,” which means we’ll have some nice buns. Stop snickering, David! Yeah, I know… “Buns” is a synonym for butt. I get it. We’ll have some meat in the middle… God damn it, Rasmus! Not that kind of meat! Some fine buns sandwiching the meat. I don’t see what’s funny, guys. Anyway, we’ll start with the bottom bun, the logical one with which to start to build a sandwich.

So, the first bun is the good, maybe even great. These are some of the catchiest songs and refrains you gentleman have ever written. The title track is the first one, which has an extended intro, including some banjo (I think), and when the verse melody comes in the guitar sort of mimics it. The chorus here is quite good as your range, Bjorn, continues to improve. Stop bowing.

In track 3, “Electric Again” stands out as possibly the best chorus in the first half of the album, until “Is It in Your Darkness,” track 5 usurps it. This chorus has more of a half sung/half screamed hook, as well as some screams. It’s also comparatively short to several other numbers and therefore has an urgency to it. This feels like an album of the year contender, and we’re not even halfway it, but then…

Here’s, however, that not-so-tasty meat in the center. This album is slightly over an hour long. 14 tracks, although two are interludes, and guys, it’s just unnecessary. You caught lightning in a bottle with a double album in The Living Infinite, despite the fact that none of it was what you would call incredibly adventurous, it somehow WORKED. A couple albums later, the formula, gentlemen, remains the same, which makes me think we don’t need an hour of it.

However, the second half of the album kicks off with an absolute banger called “Death, I Hear You Calling.” We’ll call the second half the top bun. With some excellent chorus vocals, including a falsetto in the background, I really like this track. It does have some vibes before the solo like this could be a The Night Flight Orchestra song, and the solo itself doesn’t exactly change that.

After a brief piano intro, “This Godless Universe,” which is the next track, kicks off with a mellow death melody (get it). This is quite possibly the heaviest track on the album with blasts in the pre-chorus, as well as the chorus itself. There’s a little experimentation here as some strings pop up in the background, but aren’t greatly emphasized, which is a shame.

Since this is running long, much like the entire album, I’ll speak of the closing track, which of course is the longest, “On the Wings of a Goddess Through Flaming Sheets of Rain.” It begins with some light keys and some female spoken word vocals, which I can’t understand because I don’t speak the language. Once again, some orchestral elements pop up in the background throughout but are difficult to catch. In the last 2 minutes, they take hold and are prominent before slower bridge, which could be mistaken for doom. With a minute left, the keys fade out and it sounds like the end, but the music comes back for one final solo.

Despite my musings, this is a banger, but not necessarily a return to form because they never strayed. Sure, we don’t exactly need 65 minutes of new material and a couple of tracks could be cut. However, this 65-minutes doesn’t all feel long, which is an achievement in this day and age with poor attention spans, myself included. However, I keep coming back to the album and listening. I pre-ordered it, and if you’re into Soilwork even a little, I have a difficult time believing you’ll find fault with this one. Go pick it up! Now, guys, let’s talk about that “Grilling the Drama” merch collection…

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J Mays
August 22nd, 2022


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