A fresh new year is upon us and it’s no secret that there are promising albums awaiting to be unleashed upon listening ears. Soilwork began teasing their new album towards the end of 2018 and it has finally arrived. Verkligheten was released on January 11th through Nuclear Blast Records. This brilliant composition of melodic songs features some of the most diverse and evolved material from Soilwork up to date.
My first impression of this album was surprise. I was expecting a package full of heavy melodic riffs, energy, blast beats, and powerful vocals that will pierce your soul. That’s exactly what it was, but it Verkligheten is much more than that. The energy is slightly pulled back, but it’s done with purpose. Soilwork has tried this in the past and it didn’t quite hit the mark, but it’s different this time. We are ready for this change. They introduce a more conservative approach to songwriting but don’t confuse that with what you’d expect from these melodic metal veterans. This album has everything you want and more.
The guitar work is slightly different in that it blends several different styles they’ve used in the past. Black metal tremolo picking can be found throughout this record, as well as bluesy groove riffs that were used heavily in The Living Infinite. The vocals offer some of the catchiest melodies in the Soilwork catalog.
They have released a string of music videos for several of their best tracks on the album. Songs like “Full Moon Shoals” and “Stalfagel” offer some of the catchiest riffs and vocals, but it’s weird because these are two of the songs that are different from formulas of the past. The music video for “Full Moon Shoals” even showcases them holding back, but that’s until a thrash beat kicks into overdrive, which is something they haven’t attempted in a long time.
The production is absolutely incredible. The musicianship is spot on. The songwriting breathes new life into a band that has been around for nearly 25 years. There are bands from their era that have ditched their roots and have changed beyond recognition, but Soilwork has retained and evolved their image and sound. They have managed to stay relevant and this album proves they are willing to stick with what makes them great, but also tastefully experiment and implement new ideas.
Do I think that this is their greatest effort? No, but I do think it’s the right direction for the band. The Living Infinite set the bar pretty high, and I think the reason is that the previous album The Panic Broadcast was a return to form, but it didn’t quite reach its full potential. The Living Infinite followed and I’m confident in saying that they pushed it to be one of the best endeavors of their career. Where does Verkligheten fit in this mixture? I believe it’s to diversify their songwriting. Melodic death metal isn’t in the greatest place right now, so it only makes sense to branch out and try to fit in a space that exists outside of genre specifications.
In conclusion, Verkligheten is wonderfully crafted and presents some of the most diverse songs from Soilwork’s career. The energy is slightly held back to let the little details shine through like a radiant light in a dark room. The production is superb and the musicianship blends in nicely with the mix of different styles and song structures that Soilwork has utilized in the past. This is definitely a highlight of the year and I believe it will remain a strong contender for best albums towards the end of this fresh new year.