Sound — 7
Soilwork is a Swedish melodic death metal band that released its first album in 1998. Each of the band members have had varying years of service in the band; vocalist Björn "Speed" Strid is the only founding member. The "Beyond the Infinite" EP follows the release of their album "The Living Infinite" in 2013.
Now that the introduction if out of the way, I can honestly say that I had never heard of Soilwork before I was given this EP. The first thing that immediately struck me was to read that Soilwork is considered a melodic death metal band. While my depth of experience with that genre is not immense, I could quickly tell that Soilwork was not exclusively death metal.
What I hear on this album is more of a melodic hardcore type of band. The riffs could definitely fall into the death metal category. The guitar solos are pretty tame; there is a little bit of DragonForce shredding on "When Sound Collides" but that's all. The punishing double kick drum that I have come to expect from death metal bands is there, but not punishing. It is mixed in such a way that the listener knows it's there, but is at the same time not getting punched in the gut every sixteenth note.
The best part of the sound is the chord progressions. The riffs are not altogether novel, though the bass riff at the 2:22 mark of "Forever Lost in Vain" is an amazing exception; it had my skin jumping the entire time. The guitar solos, while not annoying, are not creative. I feel like I've heard the exact phrases that David Andersson and Sylvain Coudret play before from many other bands. At some point in I would think any listener's time, those Eddie Van Halen tapping phrases and the simple minor scale arpeggios get boring. Being new to Soilwork, I am not sure how much presence keyboards have had on their previous albums, but on this EP they are almost non-existent. It seems that more prevalent use of the keyboards could balance out the EP's rough side and make a more complete sound.
Lyrics — 6
The vocals are what put this album into the hardcore genre. There are contrasting scream and clean vocals, but there are no guttural growls, nothing that would the average musician would find unintelligible. The lyrics aren't violent either. There are death metal bands who sing about relatively normal (compared to Cannibal Corpse or Dying Fetus) topics, but the way that Björn Strid sings, he seems to be in the hardcore, -core, or maybe even emo category.
Of course, categorizing music or musicians is not what really matters; it matters how good they are. In Strid's case, at least with this EP, I think he is a little below average. The lyrics are fine but his delivery has no staying power. Even on a five song EP, it is easy to get bored with his voice, even though his voice is fairly good to begin with.
Overall Impression — 7
Overall, this EP plays like an album teaser. Every couple of sections, there is a glimpse of the talent Soilwork possesses, but this level of musicianship is rarely sustained. The album sounds good, it is easy to mosh to, it isn't overly annoying, but at the same time, it is not unique in the slightest. This facet is what, unfortunately, will confine the EP to the realm of obscurity.