SOILWORK mine classic metal for the impossibleto-pronounce Verkligheten.
Verkligheten NUCLEAR BLAST Melodeath veterans draw inspiration from rock’s glory days
EvEr sincE thEir 1998 debut, Soilwork have gradually been building up their status as melodic death metal’s old reliable. In the 21 years between Steelbath Suicide and Verkligheten, Sweden’s hyper-harmonic heroes have unleashed a regular cavalcade of albums, with each landing somewhere on the spectrum between ‘good’ and ‘great’. Subtly, new hooks like metalcore-inspired vocals and hammering grooves have become more and more prominent, just enough to make each new release feel familiar, but still exciting.
Verkligheten continues this progression. However, instead of taking the usual one step forward, it feels like the quintet have long-jumped 15 feet. While other melodeath albums capture the sound of an extreme band attempting to appropriate certain NWOBHM hallmarks, Verkligheten is what would happen if Van Halen made death metal. A plethora of moments are 100% classic rock, like the AC/DC swagger of Bleeder Despoiler, the bluesy grit of Ageless Whisper’s opening and the not-so-subtle Thin Lizzy love letter, The Wolves Are Back In Town. Stålfågel is the midway apotheosis of Verkligheten’s old-school tendencies, dominated by synths and near-universally clean singing before concluding on a Rob Halford-esque wail.
Despite these adventures into far more vintage territory, diehard Soilwork loyalists shouldn’t be apprehensive. The energetic power and catchiness that many fans have fallen for remain and are, if anything, amplified by a newfound emphasis on operatic cleans, stomping drums and virtuoso guitars. By shifting tone while still maintaining their music’s same intrinsic pleasures, Soilwork have made a masterclass in how a metal band should adapt their sound. Yes, Verkligheten is rather different to any of their albums before it, but it’s far from a betrayal of their roots. If anything, it’s the dawn of a promising new chapter.
FOR FANS OF: Dark Tranquillity, Trivium, Saxon
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