Branden William Byrd

Reviews 12
Approval 95%

Soundoffs 2
Album Ratings 1125
Objectivity 65%

Last Active 01-24-18 3:38 pm
Joined 04-29-17

Review Comments 18

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Soilwork Albums Ranked

With 2017 coming to a close, it’s about time for me to be getting started on my “best of” list for this year, but before that, I wanted to give all of you lovely Sputnikmusic folk a little early Christmas present by covering the discography of my favorite metal band whose name isn’t Opeth. Bridging the sonic gap between Pantera and late Carcass, Soilwork have been a force to be reckoned with in the metal scene for about 20 years, and despite their ups and downs, their discography is full of just enough of everything good to be worth any metalhead’s time. Before we get right into it, here are a few rules: Full studio albums only, Death Resonance does not qualify because it is technically not a studio album, bonus tracks (as good as some such as “Martyr” and “Wherever Thorns May Grow” are) are not factored into my commentary on each album. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAND GO!
Figure Number Five

Here we begin with what was my entry point to the Soilwork discography. Figure Number Five is unquestionably a fantastic album, and I can never make a list of favorite Soilwork Songs without mentioning “Rejection Role,” “Strangler,” “Light the Torch,” and “Distortion Sleep.” “Downfall 24” and “Cranking the Sirens” have also really grown on me over time. That said, while I dig the fantastic keyboard performance by Sven Karlsson on this album and the nu-metal jam-session feel of “Brickwalker,” the overall lack of substance in the guitar and drum departments, the poorly multi-tracked clean vocals, and the presence of weaker songs such as the title track and “Departure Plan” kept Figure Number Five from being as great as it could have been.
Steelbath Suicide

I’m just gonna be honest here: for the longest time, I was not a fan of Soilwork’s older material, as I found it to be very primitive and immature. While this still remains somewhat true, it would be completely asinine to act like Steelbath Suicide isn’t one hell of an album, especially as a debut. Sure, inconsistency is an issue, but the fact that the band was able to pull off songs such as the scathing title track, the epic and melodic “Wings of Domain,” and the grand “Sadistic Lullabye” this early on in their career is particularly impressive. Let’s also not forget the melodious shredding of “Entering the Angel Diabolique” and “Centro de Predominio”.
The Chainheart Machine

There isn’t too much to be said for Soilwork’s sophomore album, except that it’s essentially Steelbath Suicide, but heavier and better overall. From the beginning of the almost hilariously breakneck opening title track, The Chainheart Machine barely ever lets up, and while it is somewhat repetitive, it manages to vary its assault up enough to still be entertaining. The psychotically hairtrigger “Bulletbeast,” the steadily driving “Spirits of the Future Sun,” and the vitriolic “Machine Gun Majesty” particularly stand out, and while all of the varied songwriting and beautiful clean singing present on Soilwork’s later material is absent here, The Chainheart Machine is a fantastic sophomore album that still holds up very well to this day.
Sworn to a Great Divide

Now before you all crucify me for putting this album so high, allow me to explain. I agree, the production on this album isn’t great, and I skip The Pittsburgh Syndrome every time I listen to this album because of how bad it is. THAT SAID, Sworn to a Great Divide is a personal favorite of mine, and the weight it has borne for me in trying times has only brought it closer to my heart. Despite an underwhelming atmosphere, great tracks such as “I, Vermin” and “Exile” are still to be found here, and the songwriting is still better than most bands can boast. Whether it’s the cryptic lyrics, the amazing cover art by Spiros Antoniou of Septicflesh, or the straightforward yet effective songwriting, there’s just something about this album that I can’t get enough of.
Stabbing the Drama

The first Soilwork album to feature drummer Dirk Verbeuren, Stabbing the Drama fully explored the band’s talent to incorporate elements of metalcore and alternative metal into their sound. Choice cuts such as the title track and “The Crestfallen” remain a bit closer to the established Soilwork sound, while other, more daring songs such as “Distance” and “Fate in Motion” bring somewhat of a nu-metal edge to the band’s sound. Combine this with the spontaneously heavy “Blind Eye Halo” and you have an album that lacks cohesion, yet demonstrates a consistency of quality and variation of sounds that makes for surprisingly entertaining experience. My opinion of this album on first listen wasn’t particularly high, but it’s easy to see why it’s grown on me so much.
The Panic Broadcast

The Panic Broadcast served largely as the band’s first real “return-to-form” album, combining the best elements of the band’s sound with possibly the most outstanding performances to date by each individual member of the band. Guitarists Peter Wichers and Sylvain Coudret display their impeccable songwriting abilities on nuggets such as “Enter Dog of Pavlov” and “Night Comes Clean,” and vocalist Björn “Speed” Strid delivers an incredible performance throughout (Most notably on the ballad “Let This River Flow”), combining his Pantera-like screams and brutal growls with his trademark melodious clean vocals. Drummer Dirk Verbeuren also holds nothing back here, blasting his way through every song and holding back just enough to let the album be beautiful.
The Ride Majestic

Combining the bands past musical experience with their invigorated emotions, The Ride Majestic adds a more celestial touch to the sonic formula established on their two previous albums. Classic Soilwork tracks such as “Petrichor by Sulphur” and “Alight in the Aftermath” are in plenty of abundance here, but more subversive tracks such as the potent ballad “Death in General” and the menacing, Dark Tranquillity-esque closing track “Father and Son, Watching The World Go Down” serve to bring a little of something more to the table. There really isn’t too much to say for this one. Go give it a listen; it’ll speak for itself.
Natural Born Chaos

Arguably the band’s breakthrough, Soilwork’s landmark fourth album Natural Born Chaos served to further progress the band’s already evolved sound through the use of more straightforward songwriting and more elaborate key passages by keyboard maestro Sven Karlsson. Highlights such as the anthemic “As We Speak,” the groovy “No More Angels” and title track, the epic “Mercury Shadow,” and the emotive closing track “Song of the Damned” make Natural Born Chaos a must listen. Let’s also not forget the fantastic production by Strapping Young Lad leader and masterful producer Devin Townsend.
A Predator's Portrait

After staying consistently heavy with a tinge of melody on their first two albums, Soilwork decided to expand upon their penchant for melody while retaining their dark overtones for their third album, A Predator’s Portrait. The crushing heaviness of the`band’s first two releases is still noticeably present on tracks such as “Bastard Chain” and “Grand Failure Anthem,” but the melodic tendencies present throughout make for plenty of masterpieces such as “The Analyst” and “Structure Divine.” One cool little easter egg on this album is the appearance of Opeth vocalist Mikael Åkerfeldt on the album’s title track which does little for the album sonically, but is a nice touch that adds a cherry on top of the delicious hot fudge sundae of heavy goodness that is this album.
The Living Infinite

2013’s The Living Infinite was truly a miracle of an album in that despite the band YET AGAIN losing guitarist/songwriter Peter Wichers and attempting the infamous format of a double album, Soilwork was able to create their crowning achievement. Equal parts melodeath, groove metal, prog, and metalcore, this album is easily the most complete album in the Soilwork discography, featuring classic jams such as “Parasite Blues” and both title tracks (yes, there are two, conveniently labeled I and II) alongside more daring tracks such as the vocal-centric “Memories Confined” and the incredibly dynamic “Antidotes in Passing”. Specific opinions about this album may vary, but I’m sure most Soilwork fans will agree on one thing: The Living Infinite is a quality musical work in every sense of the word.
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