The Panic Broadcast

Looks like the guys in Soilwork have finally dug themselves out of their hole.

Opener “Late for the Kill, Early for the Slaughter” is the fastest, most relentless thing they’ve done in a long time, and from that very first blastbeat, it’s clear that Soilwork wants you to forget about Sworn to a Great Divide. They want you to forget that Peter Wichers ever left the band, or that Ola Frenning pushed them towards a more mainstream-friendly and simplified sound. They want you to forget that they tried to be an American metalcore band for awhile. But most of all, they want you to remember that they’re still Swedish, which means that they can still put out some really entertaining and explosive melodic death metal.

And with the second track, “Two Lives Worth of Reckoning,” you’ll fucking remember, all right, because this is easily the best song Soilwork has written in years. Pummeling, syncopated awesomeness, gorgeous soloing and a massive, hooky and unabashedly poppy chorus that’ll get stuck in your head so deep, you’ll need a crowbar to pry it out. To be clear, this isn’t a return to the sleek, ripping sound of Steelbath Suicide or The Chainheart Machine – those of you that didn’t like the full-on embrace of clean-sung choruses on Natural Born Chaos or Figure Number Five won’t enjoy this either, but for the rest of us, crank the volume all the way up and enjoy.

The rest of the album continues in similar energetic fashion, from the ballsy, bluesy swagger of “The Thrill” to the lurching groove of “Night Comes Clean,” to the punchy attack of “Enter Dog of Pavlov.” “Let This River Flow” is another standout track that opens with a beautiful lilting melody and builds to another soaring chorus. There’s even an unexpected-but-successful experiment, a la Figure Number Five‘s “Departure Plan,” with the Alice in Chains-inspired “Epitome.”

Overall, the verses on every track are thick and groovy, but “Reckoning” aside, the choruses just aren’t as appealing as past highlights like “Rejection Role,” “Distortion Sleep” or “Follow the Hollow”. This is particularly problematic on tracks like “Late for the Kill” or “King of the Threshold,” which employ screamed choruses that make a nod to the earlier, no-clean-vox albums. I find these choruses much less successful here, though – Strid sounds unnaturally strained on “Late for the Kill,” and “Threshold” tries this odd, semi-melodic screaming thing that probably should have just been another big clean-sung melody.

I’ve been a Soilwork fan for a long time (hell, I even put the track “Natural Born Chaos” on the soundtrack of my third videogame project, Splashdown: Rides Gone Wild, for the PS2), and so it’s great to hear the band back in form after the last two unexciting albums. If I had to slot this in somewhere, I think I’d still rank A Predator’s Portait and Figure Number Five higher, and put this on par with Natural Born Chaos. Maybe if the entire album was as infectious as “Two Lives Worth of Reckoning,” I might have soiled myself a bit more. But still, many bands would be lucky to follow up a mediocre release with such an energetic return, and so that makes The Panic Broadcast worth tuning into for longtime fans and newcomers alike.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jordan Itkowitz
June 14th, 2010


  1. Commented by: krozza

    I’ll reserve judgement on this one…but a hell of a convincing rant J!
    K. Oz!

  2. Commented by: Stiffy

    I really like this CD. Good review, Jordan.

  3. Commented by: Stiffy

    The soloing on this record is phenomenal.

  4. Commented by: Rev

    Actually, Ola Frenning joined the band in 1998, and combined with Wichers to shred countless faces on Soilwork’s first three albums. They cooled off a bit on NBC, but were a criminally underrated tandem for a brief moment in time.

    You actually got my hopes up for this one. Putting it on par with NBC is high praise. Good review.

  5. Commented by: gabaghoul

    fixed, thanks for the heads up Rev

  6. Commented by: Staylow

    Wow, I really can’t wait to hear this now, that’s one hell of a nice review to read right there Jordan. I’ve liked everything they’ve done except Sworn to a Great Divide – the absence of Wichers was painfully obvious on that one, so it’s good he’s back doing what he should be doing.

  7. Commented by: bast

    I agree with Staylow on that. Only bad album is Sworn to a Great Divide.

  8. Commented by: Stiffy

    Personally, I think Figure Number Five and Stabbing the Drama are the worst.

  9. Commented by: Fred Phillips

    Weird. I loved Sworn to a Great Divide. Thought it was a comeback of sorts, though I haven’t really disliked anything they’ve done. I’ve only given this one a couple of spins, but I’m not sold on it yet. Hopefully it will grow on me.

  10. Commented by: bast

    I think those 2 albums cemented the new, always unique, sound of the band, even if its a more “poppier” one, it did make sense, with all the polarized reviews and all. I still enjoy them to this day…
    If you think about it, what other Gothemburg-era band keeps it really interesting by now?
    Now, don´t get me wrong, I´d go for more extreme stuff any other day, I feel the devil’s advocate here ;).

  11. Commented by: gabaghoul

    not a fan of Stabbing the Drama either but it was tolerable. funny you don’t like FN5 Stiffer, it’s one of my favorites.

  12. Commented by: krustster

    Sworn to a Great Divide was incredibly disappointing but I love the new song they have on myspace. I can’t wait for this tape.

  13. Commented by: rycro

    I don’t think they will ever top “Soilworkers Song of The Damned” for catchiest riff and chorus, but I’m interested to hear “Two Lives Worth of Reckoning”.

  14. Commented by: Cynicgods

    Holy candy-coated poppy melodeath, Batman!

    So saccharine sweet it’ll probably gimme a tummy ache. Wouldn’t have it any other way, though. Helps to clear the palate from all the harsh black and death metal listening sessions.

  15. Commented by: Stiffy

    ^ I got something candy-coated for ya.

  16. Commented by: Cynicgods

    Ohhhhh baby, I love it when you talk dirty to me! ;)

  17. Commented by: gabaghoul

    Another comments section ruined

  18. Commented by: theorifice

    I think the departure of Henry Ranta did more to water Soilwork down than anything. His drumming was the backbone of their thrash sound. He brought such unique fills and rhythms. Soilwork sans Henry Ranta has never been the same.

  19. Commented by: Cynicgods

    I’m innocent this time. Blame it on Stiffy and his constant come-ons. :D

  20. Commented by: Shawn Pelata

    I want to check this out…haven’t paid much attention since ‘Natural Born Chaos’…

  21. Commented by: ceno

    Now I’m definitely interested in hearing it. I hope it’ll make me forget about Sworn To A Great Divine, though I really can’t remember a tune from that one. :lol:

    Nice review, Jordan!

  22. Commented by: ceno

    Amazing record and fair review!!!

  23. Commented by: Steve Dickman

    I’ve heard this whole album, and I have to say that it blows both “Stabbing the Drama” and “Sworn to a Great Divide” out of the water with riffs, lead solos, and production. Finally, for once, you hear a few flashbacks from the past. Although some of the choruses seem more “put together” than felt, you can hear this band heading back into the right direction.

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