Review Summary: They did give us something that we can't ignore.
It's said that to troubleshoot a problem, you should examine each component individually to see what the result is. Well, if The Living Infinite
is any indication, then longtime guitarist Peter Wichers was the problem. I'm not going to say it definitely, but the proof is in the pudding.
Call it a return to form. Call it A Predator's Portrait
part two. Call it a miracle. Whatever you want to call it, The Living Infinite
is a thing that should not be; it is a triumphant beast of an album from a band that hails from a dying music scene, and a band that itself we thought was left twisting in the wind. Showing signs of life in 2010's The Panic Broadcast
, many people hoped Soilwork would step back up where cohorts and partners in crime In Flames had faltered so incredibly badly with a long series of disappointing albums. Well, step back up they have, and in a big way.
Double albums are generally regarded as an exercise in pretention and often fall flat with too much filler and flat dynamics. What is surprising about The Living Infinite
is the way it has the ability to grab you by the collar from the opening "Spectrum of Eternity" and, if you aren't careful, keep you in its grasp until the final notes of "Owls Predict, Oracles Stand Guard". The album contains Soilwork at their classic technical and modern moody best, chock full of riffs and fills and runs and melodies and just all kinds of goodies. Among these musical goodies are Bjorn Strid's now instantly identifiable vocal styles and unintentionally goofy lyrics. The good news is that Bjorn is still in fighting shape and his pipes are as volatile and flexible as always and his ability to craft a vocal hook so ridiculously catchy that you headbang to it while simultaneously laughing at his questionable command of the English language is still here in full force. For all the warts and zits, it's Soilwork at their... well... Soilworkiest
, and that's good enough.
The first album is decidedly much heavier than the moodier and modern second. With corkers like the aforementioned "Spectrum of Eternity" showing the Swedes getting dangerously close to Chainheart Machine
territory (but never crossing into it, sorry neckbeards) and "Let the First Wave Rise" letting Dirk Verbueren just go nuts on the drumset like a hyperactive monkey, you'd think they'd just be trying to recapture some of the frenetics of their early days... and you'd be wrong. Soilwork has no problem dipping into their Stabbing the Drama
era bag of tricks, and even Sworn to a Great Divide
melodicism makes an appearance. The difference here is, as they say, all in the wrist: It doesn't feel forced or contrived, it feels natural and organic. The progression from aggressive, thrashy start to moody, melodic finish is gradual and pulled off like a true veteran band and encompasses every inbetween that can exist in that spectrum. "Drowning With Silence" has an absolutely amazing solo that relies more on texture and effects than technical prowess, "Parasite Blues" digs a groove out of nowhere with one hell of a vocal hook, and the album closer "Owls Predict" is a deep, dense, and heavy closer.
It's a great album, full of power and emotion and honesty. It's technical, it can be brazen and it can be subtle, and overall it's a highly welcome addition to your library. If you've ever had a passing interest in this band, this is something you should check out immediately.