We don’t really need to introduce Soilwork, do we? Their newest release, The Ride Majestic, comes out today via Nuclear Blast records, on the heels of the critically acclaimed, The Living Infinite, and limited 2014 release, Beyond the Infinite. It has a playtime just shy of 50 minutes.
And, holy shit, the melodeath veterans are on one hell of a winning streak! This comes despite yet another lineup change and the daunting challenge of topping their recent efforts. How did the band address that latter issue, you may be wondering?
They chose to make it sound almost nothing like the previous full length.
In atmosphere, the sort of detached spaciness and more progressive songwriting that was present in much of The Living Infinite has been dialed back in favor of a significantly more straightforward, aggressive style, invoking a younger Soilwork… Well, at least for the most part. It even sounds less artificial during the album’s most syrupy vocal harmonies (which have a much more soulful presence this time around). Melodies feature a far more prominent blues influence. Guitar leads don’t sound quite so Nintendo. Tremolo riffs have returned in sparing quantities. There are just more metal moments on this one. Make no mistake, The Ride Majestic is its own beast.
Anyone who was fortunate to snag a copy of last year’s Beyond the Infinite may be a little less shocked with the transition.
That’s not to say that this isn’t an extremely polished or ambitious record. On the contrary, the production is amazing, but it selectively hits harder. The vocal harmonies have a grandeur to them that truthfully has never been there before (see “Death in General” or “All Along Echoing Paths”). Strid’s voice has simply never been better. The guitar work is absolutely stellar. The drumming is more prominent in the mix, and have a heightened vigor on this release. The overall effect is one of an increased heaviness, and a more emotional presentation. Where The Living Infinite felt rather cerebral and took a few listens to buy into for many, The Ride Majestic strikes out with far more confidence, and tries to grab the listener almost immediately. It is a far more moving experience. The Ride Majestic is easy to listen to from beginning to end, while still not feeling gimmicky or overly poppy (well… for Soilwork).
Aptly named, The Ride Majestic stands on its own as an outstanding release from a veteran six piece that just seems to keep moving in the right direction. Heavier, catchier, and more powerful than ever, Soilwork have truly blown me away once again.
For fans of: Scar Symmetry, Mercenary, melodic prog and melodeath in general…
Standouts: “The Ride Majestic”, “The Phantom”, “Father and Son, Watching the World Go Down”
Björn “Speed” Strid – vocals
Sven Karlsson – keyboards
Dirk Verbeuren – drums
Sylvain Coudret – guitars
David Andersson – guitars
Markus Wibom – bass