Review: Soilwork – The Ride Majestic

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Does The Ride Majestic elevate Soilwork to a higher status? Or will they be flushed in the living infinite?

As a whole, Melodic Death Metal could have reach higher levels of respect from the critics and fans because the dramatic and abstract lyrical themes and musical constructions on the first offerings in the genre. Instead, more and more bands jumped into the train with a simpler formula of predictable songs structures with ‘catchy’ choruses, trying to compete with the burgeoning Metalcore front on the American continent. What we have now with this style is a clone generator genre with some legendary bands that could find their own voice and a few newcomers that try to carry the torch. We can even say that the overall spirit of the genre is somewhat dead.

Right now, Soilwork is one of the few survivors of the Swedish Melodic scene, a decadent music scenario that crumbled on its own cement because the inner slaying of their ethos and the flirts with the mainstream promises. The swedes, formed in 1995, present to us a new album called The Ride Majestic, their 10th full length made with sweat, blood and their unique sound of modern and melodic influences. But, believe me, this new record can be the definite manifesto of the band, an offering to the melodic-driven metal created with a hearty sincerity.

Behind are the years of the Stabbing the Drama era, which marked the ‘alternative’ Metal sound, with those heavily electronic constructed melodies and almost metalcore sound. Since their last double-record, titled The Living Infinite, the band have been kicking stages around the world and increasing their skills with new rotations on their personnel. Vocalist Bjorn “Speed” Strid remains as the only original member and main composer since in 2012, his partner, Peter Wichers, dropped off the Soilwork wagon. Also, The Living Infinite was a challenging project that helped the band to find a new voice with a more solid songwriting, one that is more organic and refined.

The Ride Majestic could be defined as grandiose, melancholic and expressive. Using riffs and impressive guitar solos, along layers of keyboards, the band polished the style of their last album and condensed it into a tight package of eleven songs, with a good flow in the internal narrative structure.

The first song, entitled after the album name, starts with an aquatic toned guitar line that explodes into a burst of emotive riffing. The drumming carry the waves with ease, and ‘Speed’ growls find the spaces between the hard staccato verses that cuts suddenly into a multiple layered chorus that doesn’t break the momentum of the material. The simpler song of this record open the gates for a new microcosms created by Soilwork with all the experience they had recording it.

Leaving behind the straight-forward formula, “Alight in the Aftermath” is a puzzle, made with relentless blast beats, starts/stops and flamboyant percussive resources. Dirk Verbeuren thrash around every piece with outstanding precision and the guitars put it again in good shape to be later executed once again by the drumming assassination. Growls and screams put the mark into this scenario; the band, together, work into a song that is chaotic yet enchanting, at the same time. One of the best cuts of the record.

“Death in General” and “Enemies in Fidelity” unveils the Coudret and Andersson guitar combo phrasing, riffing and soloing with a memorable face, one that works with passion and viciousness between the songs pace, one that helps ‘Speed’ to show one of his most impressive vocals until the date. Heavy and melodic, these two songs are excellent outtakes of their anthem and sing-along nature, one that reminds the first era of the band, but with renovated forces.

The second half of the record doesn’t stop the march, and revisit the mid-period style to twist that paradigm with the progressive nature of The Living Infinite. For example, “Petrichor by Sulphur” have a swampy riff as platform for the verses, with catchy choruses wrote with the Soilwork trademark; and “The Phantom” employs a fast tremolo almost-black-metal-ish riff along the mechanic thrash rhythm, decorated by the keyboards palettes. On the other hand, the swirling style of the “Aspire Angelic” version of The Ride Majestic is evidence that the band served all their creativity and effort into the songwriting.

Meanwhile, “Whirl of Pain”, “All Along Echoing Paths” and “Shining Lights” distills personality with the guitar voicings; and the closing track, aptly titled “Father and Son, Watching the World Go Down”, shows the band committed to the reflective theme of how the end comes along and surprises us because the frailty of our human nature.

soilwork-press-2015-billboard-650

In my opinion, what was missing on the Soilwork style was that Scandinavian dynamic and distinct melodic flavor. In this record, they finally found it and they employ it as a tool to imprint more life to the metallic songs. The compositions breathe and shine with momentum breaks and scorching solos that make use of different scales and tempos to sweet or give decay when they need it. All of this is translated into a precise songwriting that is well executed in the chaotic-yet-cohesive progressive structures (and deconstructions). The Ride Majestic is a rollercoaster ride in which the landscape is destroyed and re-armed over and over; that is probably the better appeal of this record.

The band said in some interviews that the recording of the album was made in difficult times. Death of some of their relatives and the stress, the thoughts, the tears and perennial melancholy that those moments brings are tattooed in the ups and downs of the compositions. For the first time, Soilwork managed to encapsulate what the real Melodic Death Metal vibes means and shouted them to the wind with heartrending emotions all incorporated into their mix of modern and progressive sound; even when they aren’t the typical band of that genre. This record is not about the catchy hooks or flashy solos, it is about one band narrating the majestic ride that we call existence.

The Ride Majestic gets 4/5 flaming Toilets ov Hell.

TOILETSCALE_4_of_5


 

The Ride Majestic is out now via Nuclear Blast. You can order the record in CD, vinyl or digital here and here.

Photo: VIA

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  • Sounds like a pretty good album.

    I’d like to see them live again. My only time was at Ozzfest. Wish they weren’t part of the Rock and Shock Festival. Just not worth the $35.

    http://rockandshock.com/2012/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/0817rs-hatebreed8x11flyer.jpg

    • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

      Ouch.

    • Herr Schmitty

      I’d even pay $35 to see them play, I really would, if it weren’t for the whole ‘Drive 2 hours to Worcester after work and pay tolls and also pay $35 for tickets’ bit.

      • It probably won’t be a full set, judging by the way the poster is laid out.

        • Herr Schmitty

          Yup, that definitely factors in as well. They *might* get an hour. Maybe. Probably more like 35-40 minutes.

        • Since is the Hatebreed anniversary, Molenaar will be in the front asking songs to the band; making their set longer.

          • Herr Schmitty

            That dude WOULD drive 3,000 miles to be front row for the Hatebreed anniversary show. And hey, the dudes in Hatebreed are a bunch of trust fund kids from Connecticut, so this show in Worcester is damn near a home-show for them! They’ll probably play for 10 hours.

    • I think you will enjoy it, 365! If you check it, please tell me your opinion.

  • Tyree

    When I was in high school these guys were huge. That whole Melodic Death Metal scene with the death growls/clean vocal mix seemed to just erupt and then die off pretty quickly. Maybe it’s still around, but it seems like it isn’t as popular as it was at one time. It all seemed to be all really polished and clean sounding, it never appealed to me. I remember bands trying to sort of rip off the Meshuggah style to in some of the bands in this style. That period was a fucking weird time for metal (For me at least).

    • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

      Nailed it. That style got stale really quick. The early mid ’00s were weird. Production got slicker, triggers became prominent, etc. Can’t believe it still exists as a commodity. Oh well.

    • Hubert

      I’m pretty sure that the harsh verse/clean chorus vocals are just as popular as back then. Same for ripping off Meshuggah.

      • Tyree

        I’m sure it is, like I said though it does not seem to be as big as it once was though. It seemed to be the most popular kind of metal at one time. A lot of bands were doing that at one point, then it just sort of died off.

        • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

          It was a trend thing. Take Slaughter of the Soul with a splash of In Flames and make it even more watered down.

          • Tyree

            Good point. Off the top of my head I remember 2 other bands, Scar Symmetry and Mnemic. Mnemic were one of those Meshuggah/Melodic bands. By friend was huge into that shit. I just hated it.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            I’ve heard of Scar Symmetry. Never even heard of Mnemic.

          • Tyree

            Good for you, stay away from it. It’s awful, plus that shit did not age well.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            I had no intention anyway, haha.

          • Herr Schmitty

            Scar Symmetry >>>>>>>>

            Couldn’t really give a fuck about Mnemic or In Flames though. I mostly just liked Soilwork and Scar Symmetry out of all those Stockholm Melo-death groups.

          • Man, Mnemic is so sterile. I enjoyed a lot Scar Symmetry, but Mnemic was another thing.

          • Tyree

            Yeah, for sure. Fucking so terrible.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6mP1w2T5-4

          • GAH!

            Did you remember Raunchy? Jajajaja!!

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5X1wrIjQr0E

          • Tyree
          • I knew you would like it 🙂

          • Tyree

            I’m so transparent Link.

          • The Anus That Ate Manhattan

            Haha yep! I got a promo of their self titled CD way back when and quickly tossed it.

        • Herr Schmitty

          It basically still is; it’s just Djent now (a little more Meshuggah, a little less In Flames) and instead of most of the bands being from Sweden, they’re from the US. That’s the new trend, but Djent and Melo-death have a lot in common. Both ape Meshuggah riffs/tunings at times, both use keyboards pretty often, both have that mixture of clean/harsh vocals….

    • That’s somewhat the point I wanted to make in the beginning of the review (don’t know if I nailed it).

      The ethos of early Swedish and Finnish MDM wasn’t about the sound, but the atmosphere and the melancholy.

      Dissection, for example, was rooted in the black metal, and was a huge influence for the whole movement because the chilling atmosphere they bring not for the metal, but the acoustics interludes and the minor key swedish riffing.

      The bastardization of the genre started heavily after Slaughter of the Soul; and even when I still enjoy some ‘modern’ bands of the genre, I must say that the early bands had a richer texture and songwriting approach.

      Of course, the metalcore mainstream thing really killed it with the mix of Slaughter of the Soul+Reroute to Remain worship.

      • Vote for Jeb

        I think metalcore is really what killed it. For a while, you really couldn’t tell the difference between American metalcore and Swedish melodic death metal.

        • Oh, yeah. The swedish even forgot how to acoustic merol 🙁

        • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

          The American’s raped it and left it for dead. So bad.

          • Vote for Jeb

            Sadly, oversaturation happens. I think it’s becoming harder and harder for bands to distinguish themselves.

          • I need JAG here for talking about how growling vocalists are the same! 😛

          • Growling vocalists are (mostly) the same.

            …that’ll have to do for now because I risk overstating the obvious.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            Wait, what exactly are you getting at?

          • Extreme vocals are overdone and it’s exceedingly difficult to differentiate between most of them.

            Also: doesn’t sound “evil” to me at all. King Diamond sounded evil. In fact the most hair-raising vocals I ever heard in my entire life was Robert Plant singing “Glory, glory, is to my sweet Satan” on that passage from Stairway to Heaven played backwards.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            Should I get off your lawn, sir?

          • Nope. I’ve no problem with those who disagree or listen to music I find boring and repetitive.

            It’s just music and, at the end of the day, I can drink a beer with a Disturbed (or insert any other maligned-in-the-metalsphere band) fan because for me it’s nothing to be a dick about.

          • Herr Schmitty

            Don’t drink with a Disturbed fan; you’ll go to jail for buying alcohol for a minor. We need to keep that record clean, JAG!

            (I kid, I just couldn’t help but reach for this!) http://viewpoints.kalypso.com/uploads/banner_images/child-fruit-picking.jpg

          • I’m guessing a lot of dedicated Disturbed fans are in their thirties these days. Just because they were popular when many of you (*cough* disloyal metal-trend-hoppers *cough*) were minors doesn’t mean that only minors are ever going to listen to them.

            Some people still own their shit and go “hey, if I liked it then why would I just hate the fuck out of it now?” Adults who get caught up in peer pressure are sad.

          • Herr Schmitty

            I loved The Sickness , no fucks given; I liked their ‘evil industrial’ kind of sound (no surprise, I also dig KMFDM and Static-X). They got away from that thereafter with more… rock-oriented albums and I lost interest.

          • The Anus That Ate Manhattan

            KMFDM/Slick Idiot >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

          • The Anus That Ate Manhattan

            Then again, both of us like industrial, where almost every vocalist sounds like Cobra Commander.

          • Eh, I listen to a lot less of it now though. Especially the stuff with Cobra Commander on vox.

          • Missed you, beibi.

          • Good article, Link <3

            I haven't gotten around to listening to this yet. Soilwork never really clicked for me but I'm gonna check it out anyway 🙂

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            Trends becomes trends for reason. Every genre deals with this.

          • Tyree

            Post Black Metal is one.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            Post everything is just laughable. Try hard at being ethereal and “artistic”, etc.

          • Tyree

            True, add post to any kind of metal and it’s a guarantee bust for me.

          • Pagliacci is Kvlt
          • Tyree

            Enjoy your Post. Be sure to add an extra cup of post to it BRO!

          • KJM
          • Tyree
          • KJM
          • Tyree

            He looks like he wants to party.

          • KJM

            bigtime.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain
          • Tyree
          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            You son of a bitch. God damn her, bro. So cunting cute.

          • Lacertilian

            that paddock was full of peyote before he turned up.

          • The Anus That Ate Manhattan

            Honey roasted…………. IN HELL!!!!!!!!!

          • Pagliacci is Kvlt
          • Vote for Jeb

            I’d say most types of black metal are oversaturated.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            You could say that about every genre. The death metal boom of 90s is a classic example.

          • Vote for Jeb

            Yup yup.

          • The Anus That Ate Manhattan

            PBM hasn’t really become a fad yet. So far as I know, Derpheaven is the only one that’s had any sort of success.

          • Tyree
          • The Anus That Ate Manhattan

            Oooooooooooooh yeah, forgot about her (thankfully).

          • Sir Tapir The Based :]

            That’s one of their strongest skills.

          • They need to learn how to stab and stop raping.

          • Herr Schmitty
          • The Anus That Ate Manhattan

            But, if it weren’t for Obituary, we wouldn’t be stabbing articles and upvotes here on the toilet.

          • CyberneticOrganism

            See also: Krampus

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            When you’re good at something, why change it?

      • My point can be described with this comparation:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pC1R2oHL-Zk

        With this:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4Kl7okGr3E

      • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

        Excellent points Link.

        • I still think that the genre could have made it better, but most of the bands really fell down the hole of trying to broad their audience to a more juvenile segment. Then marketing came and we’re in 2015 wondering how MDM could be a dark, tenebrous weep factory and not genre stigmatized as ‘teenagercore’.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            Pretty much. What started very evil and chilling (Dissection), turned into total shit. Of course you put it more eloquently.

          • Tyree

            Plus the production.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            Yup, slick as KY jelly.

          • Tyree

            Oh baby yeah. Lube that shit up BRO!

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            Bro, I’m gonna lube that bro shit, so bro hard. God damn, bro. Bro.

          • CyberneticOrganism

            BRO! #bro

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            Bro for brolife. Hashtag Brocirclejerksuicide.

          • Tyree
          • CyberneticOrganism

            BROLO, BRO LOWE!

          • Tyree
          • The Anus That Ate Manhattan

            When did Ray Liota start doing heroin?!? ^^^^^^

          • The Anus That Ate Manhattan
          • The Anus That Ate Manhattan

            Lol, I used to play ‘Storm Of the Light’s Bane’ at the bar I used to frequent. Definitely made for some interesting responses, considering most of the clientele played dusties and Michael Jackson on the jukebox most of the time.

          • This Dissection tagging put me in icy mood.

            I am finally in the mood for this:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFCGyucLses

          • Tyree

            Fuck yes! Enjoy the riffs duder. Fuck, just enjoy it. That album is perfection.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            A total masterpiece.

          • The Anus That Ate Manhattan

            There was a very very Dissection influenced band you showed me a while back, but I forget their name. I loved it, though.

          • Thulcandra?

          • The Anus That Ate Manhattan

            That’s the one! Gracias, tomador!

      • I couldn’t/cannot stand all SOTS clones. Things got terribly oversaturated when so many bands tried to copy At The Gates.

      • Tyree

        Fucking Reinkaos. Terrible.

        http://i.giphy.com/brjQAYiFPBpWE.gif

        • The Anus That Ate Manhattan

          Oddly enough, the singer killed himself because (according to his note) he was at the top of his game. Getting released from prison for a pointless murder and releasing that bubbling turd of a CD isn’t exactly a life zenith.

  • Herr Schmitty

    Soilwork legit nailed this album, it pushes many of the right buttons for me. ‘Petrichor by Sulphur,’ ‘Whirl of Pain’ and ‘Father and Son…’ are really great tracks that I keep coming back to. I picked up the new Nile the same day as I grabbed this and I really dig both albums, but this one resonates a little bit more strongly with me than Nile’s does.

    Great review Link!

  • These guys sound like every metalcore band that I turn off within thirty seconds of pressing play only I was able to make it through “The Ride Majestic”. Soilwork sounds to me what a lot of modern metalcore is trying to be but has no business even trying.

  • Hubert

    Soilwork know how to write great songs, but they should really be a bit pickier with what gets on their albums. Especially The Living Infinite had just too much stuff on it. Only album by them that I really dig as an album is Natural Born Chaos, just 40 minutes of super catchy melodic metal.

    • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

      Never got NBC, always one of their most boring albums to me. StD did the same sound but better. Though I, by far, prefer their newer albums.

    • From what I’ve heard this is their most concise. I liked some tunes of NBC, but songs like Black Star Deceivers are mostly skip for me.

      I still think is a good album, but this new one have more merits to me in the songwriting. The second part is more over-the-place, tho. I think they sometimes have problems with the tracklisting, citing you “they should really be a bit pickier with what gets on their albums”; I concur with you in that statement.

      • Hubert

        I’ll give this one a listen Link. I really didn’t like The Living Infinite because of the length, I like stuff like this short.

        I’m not that familiar with Soilworks Discogragphy, Natural Born Chaos was the album that really stuck with me as a teenager.

        • I think this one follows the natural course since TLI, but the new guitar player had some riffing and soloing more inspired by Gothenburg melodic approach meanwhile having that proggy inspired twists in their last record. Hope you dig it, fellow goat!

  • Paddlin’ Rites ov Beargod

    Digging this. There’s a scent of AOR and prog, even trad metal at times. Maybe digging this even more than The Living Infinite, with what it’s more compact and all.

  • Janitor Jim Duggan

    I enjoyed this album very much.

  • J.R.™

    Only malandros give this album less than 5/5 score units.

  • Scrimm

    I made it to the first chorus.

    • You’re still number 1 for me <3

      • Scrimm

        Great job on the review though. I used to like this kind of stuff but I really can’t take it anymore. Super picky about melodies these days. unless it sounds dark and eerie it loses me pretty quick.

  • The Anus That Ate Manhattan

    The title track definitely sounds like they’re trying to flirt with the mainstream, and sounds almost exactly like every other In Flames single out there. ‘Enemies Of Fidelity’ is a bit better, especially the clean parts. Soilwork’s a band I’d have to revisit. I remember getting a promo of ‘Stabbing The Drama’ ages and ages ago, and absolutely hating it. I quickly forgot about them soon after. Also gotten a promo of their double disc CD, which I also quickly forgot about.

    • Herr Schmitty

      Mmmm, Stabbing the Drama is probably their 2nd-worst album (still better than Sworn to a Great Divid) but I still really liked about half the songs on it.

      The double album is pretty good though, as is this!

      • The Anus That Ate Manhattan

        I’ll give them another thorough listen one of these days. Swedish Melodic Death Metal/Gothenburg Sound/Etc. has some really really awesome bands, but as Link pointed out, it’s definitely got it’s share of clones, and bands that swing it more towards nu metal than anything. When it’s good though, it’s a supernova rather than merely a diamond in the rough.

    • Those two songs are the most regular songs, KJU. If you have the album, check Alight in the Aftermath, The Phantom or The Ride Majestic (Aspire Angelic), way different.

  • KJM
  • JJM

    wonderful review, Link! this is one of those albums which ON PAPER i should not enjoy… but i end up enjoying. i think that’s testament to the band’s talents

    • Sir Tapir The Based :]

      You only enjoy it because I don’t.

    • Dagon

      That’s true for me as well. I’m listening to the first embed now and there’s nothing for me to dislike. Such a pretty guitar tone.

  • Waynecro

    Great write-up, Link! I absolutely love good melodeath, but good melodeath is getting harder and harder to find. Remember Unmoored? Goddamn, they were awesome.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7dLKyrjpM3Y

  • CT-12

    Great, great writing Link; I honestly see it as your personal best. You captivated me with your words and got me thoroughly interested in actually checking this album out. Your passion and hard work really paid off on this one, my compliments and thanks.

    • Lacertilian

      He really makes you wanna check the album out eh?
      Such a descriptive style.

    • I spent one week writing this, taquito!!! I’m glad the effort worth it. Thanks you very very much. I love your writing, this means a lot to me.

  • xengineofdeathx

    Excited to check this out, I’m always down for some good MDM.