Melodic atmospheric death metal executed at a world standard.
Swedish mellow-death pioneers Soilwork have just brought up the big 2 0 on their career, but as shown on their latest offering ‘The Ride Majestic’, the band has no intentions of slowing things down. Put simply, ‘The Ride Majestic’ is fast, furious, and a master class on the fusion of death metal and melody.
This is seen straight off the bat in the album opener. A soft, harmonious guitar intro breaks into a thrashing fury, with vocalist Bjorn 'Speed' Strid ripping out a bloodcurdling scream, in its own representing the triumphant yet assertive tone of the record. However, it is on the follow up song ‘Alight in the Aftermath’ that the pace really picks up, with skinsman Dirk Verbeuren displaying his incredible chops with a mixture of traditional and broken blasts, as well as executing the conventional thrash rhythms to the highest of standards. Keyboardist Sven Karlsson adds his own touch of haunting atmospherics over the top of the fury, creating a black metal like atmosphere, before breaking into a soaring chorus, giving us just a hint of the further vocal capabilities of Strid.
‘Death in General’ serves as an album stand out. Signifying the band's experiences of the loss of loved ones over the past 12 months, the song displays the more accessible side of Soilwork, with a catchy guitar lead winding down to a gentle yet ominous sounding verse. However, it is the chorus in which the full potential of the song is unleashed with the anthemic line, ‘How about driving souls apart// like death in general// it’s bound to shatter what you know// cause pain knows nothing.’ A key change leading into the solo further increases the excitement, before winding up in a final chorus. Sure to be a live favourite.
The dynamic awareness of Soilwork helps to set them apart from their contemporaries. ‘The Phantom’ presents itself as a blackened thrash piece of work, with its menacing, dark riffing contrasted by the gentle melodic build before the solo. Speaking of solos, the guitar work on this record is stellar. On the ‘alternative’ title track ‘The Ride Majestic (Aspire Angelic)’, axemen David Andersson and Sylvain Coudret combine to produce some of the band's most technical riffs to date, along with a fantastic extended solo section. The result is a futuristic song that sees the band push themselves impressively far with their instruments.
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The record though is not without its faults. ‘Whirl of Pain’ attempts to slow the pace and provide a sing-a-long moment for fans. However, it does not quite show the dynamic range, or build, to truly solidify itself as a memorable anthem. Rather, it jumps between dynamic extremes at a moment’s notice, resulting in a disjointed feeling. The sheer length of the songs also makes this a tough listen to digest the first few times. Soilwork know what works for them and tend not to stray far from it. Therefore, don’t expect too many radical changes between the songs on ‘The Ride Majestic.’
However, this is not to say that the band does not provide audiences with some unique moments throughout. ‘Petricor by Sulphur’ has an almost disco feel to the first verse, with the drums setting a bop-inspired groove that brings out the life of the guitars. The cut also serves to host, in the reviewer’s opinion, the best chorus on the record, gradually building to an epic zenith and soaring over the immense soundscape. The outro to ‘Enemies in Fidelity’ is also a surprise. Another classic example of Soilwork’s talent of fusing heaviness and melody, the outro is the unique combination of strings, slow piano and blast beats. The result is surprising; with the song feeling like it is gracefully floating away over the mountains, a beautiful ending.
‘The Ride Majestic’ is a large body of work that will give Soilwork fans all they want, and more. What makes Soilwork so interesting is their ability to appeal to fans of all subgenres. ’The Ride Majestic’ further exemplifies this, a release to challenge the traditional notions of genre that so often divide the metal community.
Another great offering from the Swedish sextet. The album will physically push the band live, and due to the sheer volume of music available here, will most surely stand the test of time.
1. The Ride Majestic
2. Alight In The Aftermath
3. Death In General
4. Enemies In Fidelity
5. Petrichor By Sulphur
6. The Phantom
7. The Ride Majestic (Aspire Angelic)
8. Whirl Of Pain
9. All Along Echoing Paths
10. Shining Lights
11. Father And Son, Watching The World Go Down