The Swedish melodic death metal band Soilwork has been around since 1995. After releasing “The Panic Broadcast” in 2010, Soilwork have come back at breakneck speed with their two-disc album, “The Living Infinite.”
For the first few seconds of the first song, which is titled “The Spectrum of Infinity,” a quiet string section plays. Then you are immediately pummeled by blast-beat drumming, tremolo picking from the guitar, and an ear-piercing scream. As the song progresses, it turns into the perfect introductory song for an album. This song has everything that any metal fan would enjoy, including breakdowns, guitar solos, and catchy, clean singing in the chorus in addition to the abrasive screaming vocals.
The second song, “Memories Confined,” is a bit slower than “The Spectrum of Infinity” to give the listener some breathing room after enduring the onslaught of the first song, but this breathing room is short-lived as the album progresses into much more energetic territory.
The variation in the different types of musical styles Soilwork utilizes throughout the album is interesting. The fifth song, the title track, opens up with acoustic guitars and keyboard melodies. “Vesta,” the seventh track, opens up with a steel-stringed instrument that gives off a Middle Eastern feel; the listener is then hit with power chords and a catchy guitar riff. “Antidotes in Passing” is the softest song, as it is focused mostly on clean vocals and melody. “Loyal Shadow” has a djent feel to it, similar to bands like Periphery and Meshuggah, and is the only instrumental on the album. This type of versatility in their sound adds interesting elements to their songwriting. For a “melodic” death metal band, they seem to focus more on the heavy aspect of their sound on this album, but you can still hear the melodic elements in the powerful, cleanly sung choruses throughout the album.
Another noteworthy aspect of this album is the length. Even in its 84 minutes of playtime, it definitely does not overstay its welcome. Usually a long album can be a chore to sit through, as you get bored towards the end of the album because of multiple underdeveloped filler songs. The quality songwriting, however, makes you want to keep listening, and boring moments are few and far between on this album.
The production on this album is clean and pristine, which adds power to the instruments and vocals and also helps create the uplifting atmosphere that Soilwork has crafted on this album. While it is clean, it does not sound overproduced, which is a plus. The songs are well mixed and every instrument is able to shine in the chaos.
Soilwork have managed to create an album surrounded with a heavy atmosphere mixed with some experimentation. Every song sounds massive with the help of the bombastic production. With its 84 minute length, it is well worth multiple listens and definitely worth purchasing. Most Soilwork fans will consider this to be their best album to date, and any metal fan should give this album a spin. Though this album was released only in February, it is a strong contender for metal album of the year, and maybe even for album of the year.