Review Summary: Soilwork come full circle and exceed all expectations - once again.
Back in 2003 when Soilwork released Figure Number Five
the band's fanbase split in two. The album marked a huge departure from the band's previous heavy, fast and thrashy sound towards mainstream, alternative metal meant to appeal to the masses. Then Stabbing the Drama
followed suit, still adhering to the same formula, only that time throwing the old fans a half-hearted bone in the form of the song "Blind Eye Halo". Who would have thought that ten years from that moment Soilwork would once again be playing blast beats in every song and using riffs reminescent of black metal? Who would have thought that the aforementioned song would in retrospect actually be a harbinger of what was to come and not just a sentimental rehash?
Well, hints of that we had already been receiving starting with 2010's The Panic Broadcast
- that album already marked in the eyes of many the beginning of an upward slope for the band after the lackluster phase. The double album that followed validated these predictions and then some. And here we are now - treated to a follow-up to an album many don't think can ever be topped. Well then - looks like we will seriously need to re-evaluate that position.
The Ride Majestic
isn't about "reconciling the new and the old Soilwork" anymore, like the band liked to describe their endeavors in recent years ("new" apparently meaning "FNF
"). This goes way beyond that. It's an entirely new Soilwork in its own right - one just as melodic as in the band's lightest phase, and just as heavy - if not even heavier - than their first two albums.
Yes - the first impression you will have about this album is that it is indeed heavy. And we're not talking not pretend-heavy or throw-the-old-fans-a-bone heavy, but sincerely, genuinely, bone-crushingly heavy. The intensity of Verbeuren's drumming reaches new peaks - due in part to the production which unlike on the band's previous outings doesn't muffle the drums, but gives them appropriate bite.
It's not only the drumming that makes this album great though - brand new riffing patterns putting to shame the band's earlier cookie-cutter works are explored, song structures are enriched almost to the point of progginess and there is once again quite a bit of experimentation with various embellishments and little tastes to make the songs better - and we all know it's the little, subtle things that separate the amazing from the merely good. One example of that is the unorthodox outro blast beat part in "Enemies in Fidelity". Every song on the album has something similarly engaging going on for it - and importantly - not only during the choruses. The songs are written with care and an idea all the way through - that effort put into every minute detail really wins the day here.
Strid's vocals also deserve a mention - he's been tirelessly working on his technique and his ultra-high belted melodic screams now sound fuller, richer and he even has enough liberty and finesse now to deliver entire passages of them with varying pitch. This vocal performance is probably his grandest so far - I can honestly say I enjoyed listening to his voice this time around, while even on the excellent The Living Infinite
there was something about it that felt lacking to me.
Things have indeed come full circle for Soilwork and they've climbed to new heights with The Ride Majestic
- as far as this band is concerned it is an album of unparalleled heaviness, melody and intricacy and is immensely pleasurable and rewarding to listen to. It only begs the question: can they go even higher from here next time?