The Panic Broadcast
is not only a crucial release for Soilwork, it is also a defining album for what the band has become. Their melodic death metal roots are now nothing but fragments strewn about the riffs and guitar solos, having some bearing on the direction of the music but, for all intents and purposes, left behind for good. Instead, as the album begins with “Late For The Kill, Early For The Slaughter”, a bastardization of alternative metal, nu-metal, melodic death metal, and even thrash rears its head and, for better or worse, sticks around for the remainder of the album. The heavy reliance on catchy hooks and sing-a-long choruses plays a card which is reminiscent of the trend for modern metal to use the whole cleanly-sung chorus and heavy verse pattern with unrelenting prevalence. It sounds rather ghastly, especially considering “Late For The Kill, Early For The Slaughter” is one of the weakest songs on the album, and is, for some reason, placed first on the track listing. However, it all paints a blurred and unfair picture of the album, hiding just how solid so many of the songs on The Panic Broadcast
The clean vocals and rumbling guitar solo in “The Thrill” are a prime example of why The Panic Broadcast
is so successful; its replay value alone is massive. It’s not music to really be taken with a stern seriousness, but it’s instead something to be listened to casually, and that is where the album really shines. Strid’s vocals, admittedly, aren’t even close to perfect; his growls aren’t deep or overly brutal, but instead are pseudo-yells that fit the pace of the music well. Couple that with the often weaving guitar leads that take a lot from Gothenburg melodic death, and you have a recipe for a catchy, fun listen which really doesn’t take itself too seriously or try to venture into places where it shouldn’t. In fact, anyone who is familiar with Soilwork’s style won’t notice much of a difference in the overall sound, instead the change can be found in the sheer quality of the songs. The heart of the album contains track after track of some of Soilwork’s best material in seven or eight years, and really, what more could you ask for?
The acoustic lick at the end of “King Of The Threshold” slides beautifully into the anomaly “Let This River Flow”, a track which rushes the listener with guitars building and building upon themselves in an out-of-character move that defines why The Panic Broadcast
is as successful as it is. The solid, but not flashy or overbearing musicianship fits with perfection alongside the rock-solid songwriting, making the occasional slip-up from Strid in the vocal department go unnoticed. This isn’t an album for purists, I can tell you that right now, but if you don’t mind a formula which has been done before, and you can look past a metal album that has a heavy reliance on clean vocals standing alongside the traditional screams and growls, then you really have no reason not to listen to The Panic Broadcast
. The few songs that do bog down the album are easily surpassed by the songs which go above and beyond expectations, setting a firm foothold on which Soilwork can continue to climb out of the pit they have been falling down for a few years now.