Review Summary: Soilwork effectively summed up in a nutshell.
Soilwork is most commonly regarded as a melodic death metal band; the six-piece group began their career with pipe-swingin’, blast-beatin’ metal anthems of the melodic-yet-brutal variety that quickly pushed the Helsingborg, Sweden natives to international notoriety among hardcore fans. Like most bands, Soilwork began evolving in their sound a few records later; this new sound had far less brutality which left many of their original fans collectively scratching their heads and wondering what caused the project to go askew. While many of the group’s early fans weren’t too keen on this direction change, the mainstream metal community around the globe welcomed them with open arms which allowed Soilwork to become a household name by the mid-2000s. That brings us to The Sledgehammer Files: The Best of Soilwork
which sums up the first ten years (1998-2008) of the band’s respectable career.
Based upon first impressions of the track listing, Soilwork and Avalon Marquee Records are well aware of the style that made them famous to begin with; the first five songs on the compilation are remastered versions from their first two (and most brutal) LPs- Steel Bath Suicide
and The Chainheart Machine
. The Sledgehammer Files: The Best of Soilwork
is a surprisingly satisfying compilation record; whereas many metal groups would pick songs that are easier on the ears in hopes of appeasing a wider range of listeners, Soilwork isn’t afraid to include a healthy dosage of their more brutal roots.
In fact, the compilation as a whole is evenly distributed and gives an accurate portrayal of the band’s discography through the time of this release. Also showing that the label and band are in tune with public perception is the fact that the 2007 album Sworn to a Great Divide
, which was seen as a dismal effort in the eyes of most critics, only accounts for two songs on this compilation; of these two, one is a single that’s reworked to include orchestral arrangements to greatly improve the overall quality, and the second is the title track. Kudos on recognizing general public opinion, Avalon Marquee.
I personally find that many of the song selections here are suspect, but of course that is completely subjective and open to debate. Most specifically, I would argue that the three songs from A Predator’s Portrait
here are in the lower half of that album while tracks such as “Like the Average Stalker” and “A Predator’s Portrait” are nowhere to be found. Further yet, “Machinegun Majesty” from the The Chainheart Machine
which spotlights a sizzling guitar solo isn’t included either. All in all, this compilation does what all such albums should- it accurately sums up the artist’s career and includes many of that artist’s best works; for that reason, it is worth a play through whether you’re a longtime Soilwork fan or someone who wants to dabble in a new genre.