Album Review: Soilwork – “Verkligheten”

“Can’t Get It Out of My Head”

Soilwork’s tear through melodic death metal has been unprecedented over the last six years. The Swedes stunned with double album The Living Infinite in 2013, and followed up the brilliance with a more aggressive posture on 2015’s The Ride Majestic. Clearly, there’s no better time to be a Soilwork “messenger” than now. OK, most fans count the early aughts—starting with The Chainheart Machine—as the golden period, but few songs of old hold a candle to “Let the First Wave Rise,” “Parasite Blues” or “Alight in the Aftermath.”

On Verkligheten, Helsingborg’s native sons retool the formula slightly. All the Soilwork traits—aggression, melody, huge choruses—remain, but there’s a certain relaxed swagger on display. Almost as if the lounge suits, ’80s vector graphics and Boston-like refrains of the Night Flight Orchestra have influenced songwriters David Andersson, Sylvain Coudret and Björn “Speed” Strid. “Bleeder Despoiler,” “The Nurturing Glance,” “Stålfågel” and “You Aquiver” infuse a bit of AOR, which can come off as sunglasses-cool or mercilessly forced.

Then again, Soilwork aren’t totally caught in the gaze of Electric Light Orchestra on Verkligheten. “Arrival,” (hit single) “Full Moon Shoals,” “When the Universe Spoke” and “Needles and Kin” step up the tempo, aggro factors and death metal-isms. Really, these songs connect back to Soilwork’s best, but are slickly and meticulously arranged for the present day. New drummer Bastian Thusgaard picks up where Dirk Verbeuren left off, and it’s a delight to behold as he swings between a solid rock beat and the blasts of “Arrival” and “Needles and Kin.” The logical successor to The Ride Majestic, Verkligheten is smart, intense and fun as hell.