Friday, December 30, 2011

Soilwork - Sworn to a Great Divide

It seems that Soilwork’s music is getting better and better with each release. Now they’re at the point to where the past two albums they’ve released have earned a perfect score from me. Although interesting enough, even though this is my favorite Soilwork album, the members of Soilwork see this album as a deception in their creativity and musical quality. The album previous to Sworn to a Great Divide still remains their most famous and best-selling album, which has reached abnormally high places on the mainstream rock/metal sales charts in several countries around the world (including America, where I reside). After the release of this album, Soilwork received the honor to get a high position on the legendary Wacken Open Air festival band roster which only further expanded their seemingly infinite fan base. Even though I discovered Soilwork in 2008 by finding a copy of Natural Born Chaos; I never truly got into them until the winter of 2009 when I got their entire discography and heard the title track from Stabbing the Drama.

I have since been slowly paying my dues to them by seeing them in concert in the summer of 2010 where I bought a shirt, by buying The Panic Broadcast, Sworn to a Great Divide, and A Predator’s Portrait on CD. I do plan on seeing them perform live again as soon as they come to Seattle again. Just in case you feel like calling me a pirate, send me a message on Spirit of Metal and I’ll tell you my system of how I support the bands I listen to. One thing that you may notice about the more modern bands is that they end up lasting longer than most the bands from the 60s and 70s. This is mainly because the laws on drugs are stricter now than they were then as well as us knowing more about the negative effects of mind-altering substances now. Although it is still an issue, more people did drugs (especially the hard ones) back in the 70s (the hippie days) because we just didn’t know how many negative effects they have on us and how serious. So there were bands that didn’t last more than 10 years like Led Zeppelin, Cream, and The Jimi Hendrix Experience. But there are bands today that aren’t having anywhere near as much success as those guys but have been around since the late 80s/early 90s!

Soilwork was doing a pretty good job at keeping the same general sound for their first couple of albums. When they started releasing albums under Nuclear Blast, the first being A Predator’s Portrait, they really started experimenting with other different genres and started taking in more and more inspiration from artists from a wide range of genres. It seemed that Stabbing the Drama was the best they could possibly get and it couldn’t get any better than that. And then came along Sworn to a Great Divide to prove us wrong; that Soilwork has no such thing as limits. After people were astonished by this perfect record, along came The Panic Broadcast to yet again prove to us that the statement “the best that they can do” doesn’t and can’t apply to Soilwork.

Although as an album, this isn’t Soilwork’s heaviest record, but it contains some of their heaviest material. Speed takes off some of the roughness from his yells to give his vocals more of a thrash metal sound. The guitars have a really interesting sound that is unlike the high-pitched crunchy sound that is on all of their other albums except for Stabbing the Drama and The Panic Broadcast. The sound of the guitars is very narrow; it has next to no crunch to it, it has absolutely no reverb, and sometimes has a metallic sound when a chord that has a lot of notes is being played. The album does lack a little bit in the bass section, but that is easily fixed by turning up the subs to give it that punch us bass junkies enjoy.

After slowing things down for a couple of albums like Figure Number Five and Stabbing the Drama; the group of Swedes wanted to bring back old memories to the fans but with a new twist. Throughout the entire record they weave in unexpected genres like jazz, smooth progressive rock, and new age as well as fusing other metal genres like thrash metal, technical death, metalcore, and even some sounds that some may recognize as originating from the music of Opeth. Speed’s singing to this day remains top-notch with a crisp, perfectly in-tune voice.

My favorite song on the record is also the heaviest one, The Pittsburgh Syndrome. This is one of the best examples of the large amounts of thrash metal they have fused with their signature sound in this album. There is also a strong metalcore sound in many parts of this song (although there’s more in the Stabbing the Drama album). But otherwise, the song is so fast-paced and chaotic that it seems that the track ends almost seconds after you start it!

I’ve been listening to almost four years now and have grown to become extremely familiar with their music and some of their history. This album has been my favorite by them ever since I first heard it; although The Panic Broadcast came very close to beating this one. I would recommend this to anyone and everyone, period. This gets 20/20.