Soilwork
Death Resonance

If only other bands’ cutting room floors looked like Soilwork’s. When they released The Living Infinite in 2013, I marveled at how many superb songs they had turned out during those writing sessions – enough for an absurdly generous double album that was also my #1 pick for the year. And then some, it turns out, when they dropped Beyond the Infinite the next year – but only for those lucky fans living in Japan. They always get all the good stuff!

Well, now the rest of us get to hear that EP, plus a bunch of other hidden gems. Two of the tracks on Death Resonance, including the title track, are brand-new. Then we work backwards through bonus tracks (again, mostly from Japan-only releases) from The Ride Majestic back through Stabbing the Drama.

“Helsinki” starts off lurching and speedy, crests to a huge, soaring chorus, and boasts a sparkling bridge and solo. Yeah that’s pretty much modern-day Soilwork in a nutshell, but it’s so good it could have easily been included on The Ride Majestic. There are also some buried synths/orchestration throughout “Helsinki” that might just be an experiment, or a hint at a broader palette for the next album. “Death Resonance” is a slower, more swinging track with some nifty organs as background coloration. Good chorus and big crescendoes too, so it’s another keeper. There’s also one more add-on from TRM, a bonus track called “The End Begins Below the Surface.” I’m actually fine with this having been Japan-only, as it’s a weird one. The thrashy verses and clipped shouts sound like a throwback to the early albums, but the lurching and unappealing melody in the chorus makes this a skipper for me.

Luckily, Beyond the Infinite’s five tracks are all entertaining and pummelling, and two of them are so good, like “Helsinki,” that they also should have been on their parent album, The Living Infinite. Seriously, either the band wrote “Forever Lost in Vain” after TLI was already wrapped, or someone had to lobby really hard for it to stay off the double album, which was already jam-packed with incredible material. The second half of that song alone is the best thing on “Death Resonance” and one of my favorite Soilwork moments ever. (Hell, it’s the best Tool anything you’ve heard in over a decade.) “My Nerves, Your Everyday Tool,” with its ear-candy chorus, is pretty damn amazing as well.

After the Beyond the Infinite tracks, we move back to The Panic Broadcast, and if you are a longtime Soilwork fan, you may share my opinion that this is when the band got good again. Sworn to a Great Divide and Stabbing the Drama are fine now that I go back to them, but at the time I was disappointed – they weren’t as arresting, catchy, or fun as Natural Born Chaos or Figure Number Five (let alone their classic melodeath sound from the late 90s). It wasn’t until The Panic Broadcast that I felt a revived energy in Soilwork’s writing and sound again, and bonus track “Sweet Demise” is another strong case for that. It’s also particularly notable for its dreamy bridge, with Speed affecting a breathy murmur that I haven’t really heard since. The other TPB bonus track, “Sadistic Lullabye” isn’t new at all, but a re-recording of the second track off of Steelbath Suicide. As such, it’s rapid-fire melodic death with a shouted chorus that is different and less colorful than what the band writes now, but it’s still a killer example of their early sound.

The final five tracks come from Stabbing and Sworn, and as I hinted at before, they are a bit of a mixed bag. I tend to expect great choruses from everything that Soilwork do these days – guess we’ve been spoiled. So tracks like the shouty “Sovereign,” with its flat, forgettable chorus, or the vaguely nu-metal “Wherever Thorns May Grow,” just pass into one ear and out the other. “Martyr” and “Killed by Ignition” fare much better, with compelling melodies and good choruses. “Martyr” even flirts with some spacey synths, which I haven’t heard much in later material but would welcome again.

If you’re even a casual Soilwork fan, this is a must-listen, as there’s enough strong material to make a melodic death album that an average band would be thrilled to have produced. “Forever Lost in Vain” and “Helsinki” are also worth the entry fee alone, giving me continued hope for the next amazing album – but let’s face it, given the stellar streak that Soilwork has been on for the past 5 years, I hadn’t lost any in the first place.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jordan Itkowitz
August 8th, 2016

Comments

  1. Commented by: Plasmaterial

    Kudos to the band for remastering each and every track here. The Sworn… tracks sound a whole lot better with their remastering in particular. Speed mentioned in a recent interview they may entirely remix and re release that album.

    I would have liked them to include Bursting Out from Figure Number Five but that is a minor gripe.


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