Released: Aug 28, 2015
Genre: Melodic Death Metal, Progressive Metal
Label: Nuclear Blast
Number Of Tracks: 11
Seeking to capitalize on the success of their last album, Soilwork returns with a rough, rigid sound that gets increasingly melodic.
The Ride MajesticFeatured review by: UG Team, on september 08, 2015 3 of 5 people found this review helpful
Sound: Soilwork are a Swedish melodic death metal band that released its first album, "Steelbath Suicide," in 1998. Though the recent departure of bassist Ola Flink has left frontman Björn "Speed" Strid as the only original member of the band, Soilwork is going strong. They are poised to soar to new heights after their previous album released in 2013, "The Living Infinite," charted higher than any of their previous releases. Their success is all the more interesting given that longtime guitarist and songwriter Peter Wichers left the band in 2012.
The evolution of Soilwork's sound, or at least their guitar work, is exemplified at the outset by the contrast in their album titles over a career. Across Soilwork's ten studio albums, the progression is obvious. For example, their first two albums are titled "Steelbath Suicide" and "The Chainheart Machine," while their last two are titled "The Living Infinite" and "The Ride Majestic."
The guitar work of David Andersson and Sylvain Coudret is dynamic and tactful. To begin with, it is always clear that the band has two, separate, independent guitarists. There are few doubled guitar parts and when those occur, it is to add obvious emphasis. Most of the time, the guitars play tasteful, complementary parts that do a fine job eating up empty sonic space across the stereo spectrum. The melodic nature of the guitars is also emphasized by their speed, or rather their lack thereof. Most of the guitar parts are played at a normal or slow speed and it is only the continually blast beating drums that keep the songs in the realm of speed and death metal. The guitarists also do a good job of differentiating their parts across songs, knowing how and when to sound graceful or brutal as the situation calls for. Ola Flink, in his last album with Soilwork, does a fine job staying unheard, meaning his parts mesh well with the drums and bass to the point that Flink cannot be heard individually but the other instruments never sound thin.
However, a slight question mark arises with the drumming of Dirk Verbeure. He appears always to play fast and harshly with little regard to what he is playing over. This is offset by (and maybe even due to) the mixing, which silences the drums for the most part, making them sound far less punishing than they would live. Possibly Verbeure drummed the way he did to complement the vocals, which are similarly harsh in an attempt to contrast the guitars that are just as conversely soft as well as the centerpiece(s) of the album. The one undoubted truth is that Verbeure does not only plays blast beats because that is all he is capable of playing. There are moments when he plays with finesse, moments when he finds just the right couple of short, little phrases to suit the situation. Still, most of Verbeure's decision-making is questionable. It is understandable that something has to sustain the torrid pace at which the album was designed to run. But the manner in which Verbeure tackled that challenge leaves something wanting. Nevertheless, this criticism of the drumming should be taken lightly; it's not as if the drumming is the defining characteristic of the album, it is just what stops the album short of incredible. // 8
Lyrics: Speed Strid's vocals are the one constant that can always be expected of a Soilwork album. His death screams, as usual, are reminiscent of the American deathcore movement's, which is mostly striking because his style does not seem similar to that of singers in other Scandinavian death metal bands such as Insomnium. Going with this ever-developing theme of this album's drums to vocals duality, the drums are likewise mixed in the same (relatively) lo-fi manner that American death metal/deathcore drums are mixed. Strid also effectively uses the contrast between his scream and clean voices to striking effect, more so than I remember from Soilwork. The only time he seems out of place is when he sings a chorus, sort of, by growling "The Ride Majestic!" Strid promptly spoils the serenity of that phrase, but maybe that is the point. // 7
Overall Impression: Every time I turn this album on, it sounds good. It sounds like something I would want to listen to for hours on end. But something always seems to get in the way. I cannot pinpoint what it is. The guitars sound so inviting. The drums sound so punishing. And the vocals just sound like they fit so well.
And yet, something is holding this album back. There are a couple of memorable songs, but most of the album seems to pass easily along. Maybe it's because there is no riff that is especially catchy or a solo that is especially enchanting, but at the end of the day, this album has not had much staying power with me. As interesting as the album is, I feel like I have heard it all before. Still, this is probably Soilwork's best (or second best after "The Living Infinite") album to date and I happily await their next effort with the expectation that it will hopefully take the band where it has never been before, over the edge. // 7
The Ride Majestic
Metallichemical, on september 09, 2015 4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Sound: Swedish melodic death metal band Soilwork have been around for twenty years at this point. As with a plethora of bands, there have been many lineup and stylistic changes to occur throughout the course of their career. I can say nothing but positive things about Soilwork's evolution in the past five years. I am a huge fan of these guys and consider them a top five band. I enjoy every single album greatly, though they have had a couple minor slumps ("Sworn to a Great Divide," 2007) and their earliest work was essentially that of another band emulating the At The Gates sound ("Steelbath Suicide," "The Chainheart Machine").
"The Ride Majestic" is the tenth offering in Soilwork's grand opus of LP's. Before we get started off here, I will note the huge acclaim that came with their previous (double) album, 2013's "The Living Infinite." Many fans considered this to be a huge return to form of sorts (along with 2010's "The Panic Broadcast" to a lesser degree), and it was often cited as one of Soilwork's best albums, if not the best in their career. And for due reason. It accomplished what many double albums fail to do. At a whopping twenty songs lasting well over an hour, there was very little filler (maybe one song from my perspective).
Soilwork have done what eludes many of the greatest bands in the industry after such a lengthy career; churning out the best albums of their career thus far. Their evolution of style has definitely been for the better, as they have improved their songwriting in incredible leaps and bounds in the past few years (after what some would call a sort of mid-career slump, roughly 2003-2007). "The Ride Majestic" sees them continuing down the path of consistent, quality songwriting. Though comparable to the overall style of "The Living Infinite," this record expands on that, adding more unpredictable twists and turns, which works out very nicely for this record! It is also noticeably much darker in nature, which is explained more in depth if you watch the two part mini documentary released in connection with this album. Opening title track and first single "The Ride Majestic" is a decent way to sum up the sound of this album. The signature heavy, melodic, and catchy song structure with growls and clean vocals, as well as some clean guitar work. Catchy through and through, yet retaining a sense of urgency and brutality. Although the true gems here are found a bit deeper into the mix of things. Tracks such as "Death in General," "Enemies in Fidelity," "Whirl of Pain," and closing song (for the standard edition) "Father and Son, Watching the World Go Down" demonstrate Bjorn "Speed" Strid's vocal capabilities are better than ever, and have improved tremendously, most noticeably in the department of cleans.
Although the large majority of the album contains his trademark screams and growls, there are also the catchy melodic clean sections which he is well known for pulling off consistently, as well as a more diverse array of stylings to be found in his clean vocals. Some of the more "typical" style Soilwork songs included in this set include "The Ride Majestic," "Alight in the Aftermath," "Petrichor by Sulphur," and "The Ride Majestic (Aspire Angelic)." Many people took notice of "The Living Infinite"'s wide array of songs included upon it's release, including more of a foray into ballad territory with great success. This is the case with said album as well, notably the beautiful, grandiose, and epic "Whirl of Pain." This type of style is also displayed extremely well in the mid-paced epic closing number "Father and Son, Watching the World Go Down." As mentioned earlier on, this album has a much darker vibe than it's predecessor's. Some of the featured tracks hearken back to the speed and brutality found on Soilwork's earliest albums. These include "Alight in the Aftermath," "The Phantom," "All Along Echoing Paths," and "Shining Lights." The groove-driven number "All Along Echoing Paths" would not be stylistically out of place on an album like "A Predator's Portrait," although the production and delivery of the instrumentation is better here. // 9
Lyrics: The lyrics included on this offering are, along with the music, somewhat darker than past works. They fit very well with the music at hand. As usual, though, they are very beautiful, poetic, and other worldly, and deal with the struggles in life. Most of the lyrics are credited to Bjorn "Speed" Strid, with David Andersson getting a few credits, and even new bassist Markus Wibom getting credits for one of the bonus tracks, "Of Hollow Dreams." The tracks which Andersson are credited for in the lyrics department are "Alight in the Aftermath" and "Petrichor by Sulphur," with Strid and Andersson collaborating on lyrics for "The Ride Majestic (Aspire Angelic)" and "Whirl of Pain." // 8
Overall Impression: Production wise, this album stands alongside "The Living Infinite," "The Panic Broadcast," and "Natural Born Chaos" as the cream of the crop. Vocals standout, but aren't overpowering, the guitar tones are great, and the crunchy and clean contrast rather nicely, and the drums are powerful and tight as usual from Dirk Verbeuren. One thing to note here is the lack of bass presence. It is there, but unfortunately sort of buried in the mix, although this has been the case with Soilwork for the most part in the past. It is worth noting that cofounding bassist Ola Flink departed the band earlier this year. He was replaced by Markus Wibom, though Wibom did not perform bass duties on this album. Guitarists David Andersson and Sylvain Coudret were responsible for playing bass throughout "The Ride Majestic." Overall, David Castillo and Soilwork did a fairly good job of producing this effort.
All in all, if you have enjoyed Soilwork in the past, you will most definitely enjoy this incredible album. After giving this a few spins, I would even say this is their best album to date, along with "The Living Infinite" and "Natural Born Chaos," as it expands upon the style of "The Living Infinite" very well by spicing things up slightly, coupled with more speed and intensity, and an overall darker atmosphere. This record, I feel, would even be a very fitting introduction to the sound of Soilwork and may well gain them a few new listeners, even two decades into their career! The same cannot be said for most bands that have been around for so long. There are no bad songs whatsoever on this album, everything is top notch and worth listening to straight through. I would say some of my favorite tunes from this offering upon the first few listens are "Whirl of Pain," "Alight in the Aftermath," "The Phantom," "Enemies in Fidelity," and "The Ride Majestic (Aspire Angelic)." // 9