I’ve been flat out disappointed by the last few Soilwork releases, which is why I never spoke of them here on The Metal Webzine. In fact, the last album by these Swedes I enjoyed all the way through was The Panic Broadcast (2010). However, I have to say that their newest effort, Verkligheten (English: Reality) is indeed, a nice snap back into reality for this band. Maybe they were just going through the motions for the sake of the label, but The Ride Majestic (2015) and The Living Infinite (2013), just seemed pretty bland and rushed. However, now that these guys are eleven albums into their career, it’s nice to see many shades of their earlier material returning to the fold, while they continue to keep their songs fresh and fun to listen to.
Verkligheten is drummer, Bastian Thusgaard’s debut with Soilwork. You can really feel the difference in his transitions and execution. The album begins with a nice clean intro that would be perfect for an older Western film soundtrack. It paints a picture of two gunslingers preparing to draw at a distance in the middle of a desert clearing. From there, it’s all blast beats, quick picked guitars and eerie synths to cue in the first full song, track 2, “Arrival”. I’ll include the video for that below, since it’s an awesome lyric video with a killer space theme. The chorus is clean sung with a very catchy chord progression, something we’ve come to expect from Soilwork by now, but I love the way the blast beats carry the hook of the song. It’s a great overall sound:
Another track I love off this one is called “When the Universe Spoke”. This song also has incredible blast beats throughout some catchy melodies. I also appreciate the lead guitar work in this one, along with the searing chorus melody on guitar. Vocally, Bjorn Strid has also gotten a lot more aggressive than he’s been on the past few releases. His clean singing hasn’t changed much, but his harsh vocals seem more honest and angry than on the last album. Strid is also using more harsh vocals to transition in and out of clean parts, which is something I immensely enjoy. Plus, his diction is still perfect, so you barely need to read the lyrics most of the time.
Now, here’s a controversial point of the album: Alissa White-Gluz is featured on a track called, “Stalfagel”. She’s hardly a poster child for metal right now, after leaving a trail of disappointed fans who were snubbed when they tried to meet her, AND being the frontwoman for the band now known for disrespecting photographers. However, when it comes to the video for this song, I have to say I’m impressed. As you can tell by the featured still frame below, it’s all animated and I have to say I love the concept. Check it out for yourself, if you dare to listen to some White-Gluz in the midst of it all. Or, you can just throw it on mute and watch a sick cartoon!!
The cheesiest moment on the album is a track called, “The Wolves Are Back in Town”. I mostly say that because of the lyrics. I can’t say it’s an album highlight for me, but this song is hardly a damning offense. It’s catchy, and newer, younger fans of the band will probably love it. As for me, I’m here for the riffs, the solos, the screams and the hooks, “naw mean?” Anything that reminds me of The Chainheart Machine (1999), I’m going to love. And believe, there are bits of both that album and A Predator’s Portrait (2000) all over Verkligheten. You just have to keep an open mind and listen through the newer vibes to get to those tasty bits of yesteryear.
“Needles and Kin”, featuring Tomi Joutsen (Amorphis) is absolutely crushing. This is a quick thrasher, with heavy no nonsense riffing and the brutal vocals of Amorphis’s stellar frontman, matching Strid’s melodies perfectly. This might be my favorite track. And, yes! There are more incredible fast blasts under those pretty clean vocals!
I normally don’t rate, but I’m going to close this out by saying it’s a solid 7/10. I can’t get behind the couple tracks that are just too “clean” and “poppy” for a band of dudes that still refer to themselves on all their web accounts as “melodic death metal”. Other than that, this was a fun listen. Thanks for reading!