Sworn to a Great Divide

I started my “extreme” metal listening in 2000 with Soilworks crowning achievement The Chainheart Machine. Never really hearing anything like that before I was a total Soilworker. Huge fan! I remember anxiously awaiting 2001’s A Predators Portrait and being thoroughly let down by the change in direction. From there on I have never been able to stomach Soilwork. I tried to like them but the clean choruses and flat out abandoned melodic death riffs just turned me off. It seemed as if Soilwork was trying to get somewhere with heir music, an up to date sound, but never really hitting the nerve with old fans. Now in 2007, Soilwork have a grasp on what they have been trying to portray all these years and have released, in my opinion, the best record since Chainheart Machine.

Sworn to a Great Divide marks yet another direction for the band. This record is way more melodic than anything the band has done before. Melodic in the sense of vocals, that is. Bjorn “Speed” Strid has morphed his clean sung choruses into well-written quality material. Over the years I have heard the man try to capture something with his current vocal approach, but nothing really grabbed me. What you will hear on Sworn to a Great Divide are professional, well-written choruses. Its funny this came from a man who we never knew could do anything but scream. Kudos! Speed has been determined over the past 5 records to turn his vocals into something appropriate for the times. Sworn to a great Divide showcases his efforts very nicely and makes him the standout musician of the entire release.

Although we are dealing with a totally different band these days, new drummer and guitar player, the old Soilwork guitar tone will never change. Especially when it comes to lead man Ola Frenning on guitar. There’s a flavor that has been following his fingers for years and it is drilled into their sound. Ola is showing off his better licks on this record as well. Along with main man Speed’s upper hand, Ola’s years of experience are proving not to be messed with. The band has maneuvered their sound in to a more progressive sound. We aren’t dealing with a straight melodic death band anymore. Today’s Soilwork would fit the bill with bands like Nevermore and Opeth. Songs like “Light Discovering Darkness” and “Your Beloved Scapegoat” are just some of the tunes that trend on crossover material.

The heavy is still in tack as well. Blast beats appear on numerous tracks, “The Pittsburg Syndrome,” and guttural is something Speed has only gotten better at. “I Vermin” and “As the Sleeper Awakes” both are pissed off efforts as well. The songs get better and better as the CD goes and there’s not a dull moment from what I hear.

All in all, when it comes to Soilwork they have been treading water for sometime now and it’s a breathe of fresh air to hear this type of record from them. Those looking for quality music from one of today’s heavy hitters look no further. Soilwork may not be what we once knew, but they are determined to stay on top and with a release like this we surely cannot argue.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Shane Wolfensberger
October 31st, 2007


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