This 2016 album is a compilation of material stretching back as 2005, so in many ways is a bookend for drummer Dirk Verbeuren as he joined just prior to the beginning of this material and left afterwards as this is the last Soilwork to feature him. This isn’t a straightforward compilation featuring a ”best of”, but instead contains two new songs plus thirteen remastered versions of some which may not be easily obtainable to the fan. This includes the whole of the 2014 ‘Beyond The Infinite’ EP (which rather interestingly is here in exactly the same order as the original release, tracks 4-8), plus others which were released as bonus tracks (often in Japan) from the albums ‘Stabbing the Drama’ (2005), ‘Sworn to a Great Divide’ (2007), ‘The Panic Broadcast’ (2010) and ‘The Ride Majestic’ (2015). Something which is also interesting is that the compilation works in chronological order, so the new tracks are at the beginning, and then it works back in time, so it ends with the oldest. I’ve not seen a compilation put together like this, and it is really refreshing and normally everything is jumbled up, so the listener gets different styles, recording levels and quality all over the place – but here one is taken on a journey back into Soilwork’s past.
The sound is great throughout, and one can understand the desire to release this compilation as it is an incredibly solid album in its own right. It is also interesting to hear how in some ways the band has changed its approach since the early days, yet in others their musical path was already set by the time this collection starts (‘Stabbing The Drama’ was their sixth album after all) and they have continued down the same furrow ever since. Unlike some bands who have moved out of the melodic death genre into something quite unmentionable, and there are a few, Soilwork have doubled down and know what they are going to achieve under that name. If they want to do something different then they form a project instead of changing what this band is about, and the result is a consistency which many others would love to be able to achieve. In many ways this collection is for those who already have the other albums, but unlike many rarities compilations is also worth getting in its own right and fans will do far more than just play this once and put it back on the shelf. Given these were bonus cuts for the most part, so didn’t make it to the original album, that is some achievement.