Since the previous album, 2015’s ‘The Ride Majestic’, the band have not only released a collection of rarities in 2016’s ‘Death Resonance’ but have also managed to misplace their rhythm section. Given just how important that backbone has been to the band, and with drummer Dirk Verbeuren having been the incumbent for so many years, it was always going to be a hard job in finding the right replacements, but drummer Bastian Thusgaard and bassist Taylor Nordberg sound as if they are right at home. Part of the reason is that Soilwork are Soilwork, they don’t try to be anything different to what they have been for most of their twenty years, so it is a case of slotting in and finding ways to hone and polish that little bit more.
That polish really comes through on tracks like “Full Moon Shoals” which is a great example of the whole album as there are times when it is complex and incredibly heavy, times when it is rough, and then there are almost poptastic vocals over the top with harmonies which never sound as if they are coming from a band who are happiest in front of a stack of Marshalls prowling the stage. Is that “Ooohs” I hear Strid crooning? Surely not. There are some introductions which make one think that possibly they have morphed into symphonic hard rock, especially with the piano playing such a key part, right up to the point when someone flicks a switch and all hell breaks loose. This band have long since stopped trying to please critics and instead are consistently providing the gigs. “The Nurturing Glance” is an absolute show stopper, and when Thusgaard gets the double bass drums pedals going and locks in with Nordberg while Sylvain Coudret and David Andersson blasting it out, there is a very small gap for keyboard player Sven Karlsson to make his presence felt and it is left for Björn “Speed” Strid to rise above it all. The combination of musicality, metal, hooks and stunning vocals are what make Soilwork what they are, one of the very finest bands to ever come out of Sweden.
“Verkligheten” is the Swedish word for reality, and the band state this album is their attempt to try and go somewhere else, to express all those things that are born in between hypnagogic states and frenzies of hyperrealism. I’m not too sure of the last bit, but I do know that the guys are back with a bang and another amazing album.