Soilwork – Övergivenheten
Released: August 19th 2022
Björn “Speed” Strid // Vocals
Sven Karlsson // Keyboards
Sylvain Coudret // Guitars
David Andersson // Guitars
Bastian Thusgaard // Drums
Rasmus Ehrnborn // Bass
Clearly, the northern hemisphere’s summer time is when all the Swedish heavy music acts come out of their hibernation. With Amon Amarth, Arch Enemy and The Halo Effect all dropping albums this month, their countrymen Soilwork are also on the cusp of releasing their newest release, Övergivenheten. One of the most important bands of the melodic death metal movement, the Gothenburg six-piece have been toiling their trade since the mid-90s. With eleven full-lengths to their names, you could forgive the Swedes for going through the motions with their twelfth effort, Övergivenheten. Instead, Soilwork have put in the work and crafted an LP worthy of its immense legacy.
The opening title track is a solid starter – albeit a little by the numbers – but a good way to kick off the record. Following tune ‘Nous Sommes La Guerre’ is a mellow detour, and at nearly seven minutes long it does drag a tad. Business picks up with the heavier passage that crops up at around the four-minute mark though, which takes the song to the next level, especially with the final chorus section. Whilst not amongst the band’s finest material ever, the melodic hooks are so deeply ingrained and well-written that the opening duo is immediately grabbing from the very first listen.
The quality dips after a decent beginning, but Övergivenheten – which translates to The Abandonment – really gets into gear two-thirds of the way through. The back-to-back excellence of the thumping ‘Is It In Your Darkness’ and the massive ‘Vultures’ create the LP’s high water marks – especially with the latter’s absolutely brilliant bridge passage. These are the sort of highly melodic, yet far from cheesy, metal anthems that have made Soilwork one of the best bands flying the flag for their home city’s token musical genre. ‘Dreams of Nowhere’ and ‘Death, I Hear You Calling’ are other big songs, with frontman Bjorn ‘Speed’ Strid hitting some huge high notes. It’s hard to describe the vocalist without falling into hyperbole, with the group’s remaining founding member being one of the finest examples of a frontman who can go from the fiercest of extreme vocals to powerful clean singing. Guitarist David Andersson, who is a member of the excellent Night Flight Orchestra with Strid, has really cemented himself into the group as an integral part of the songwriting team – it feels like a long distant memory when Soilwork parted ways with Peter Wichers in 2012, who was seen by many as the musical backbone of the band.
Övergivenheten is definitely at the melodic end of melodic death metal, with the tracks not really veering too deeply into the world of extreme metal, except when the occasional blast beat pops up – see the intro to ‘This Godless Universe’ and the aforementioned ‘Vultures’. Despite its positives, Övergivenheten is not a perfect release. Due to its nearly year-long gestation period, it’s a lengthy and somewhat overweighted album at 12 tunes and over an hour in running time – not including the two brief instrumental pieces – and both the start and back end flies by. Fortunately, the final number brings the proceedings home in a strong fashion, with the epic ‘On The Wings Of A Goddess / Through Flaming Sheets Of Rain’ an excellent way to round off Övergivenheten.
Since the mid-1990’s Soilwork have worked exceptionally hard to become one of the most consistent bands to arise from the famous Gothenburg metal scene. While a lot of their contemporaries fell apart or drifted far away from the sound, for the most part Soilwork have stayed the course, with Övergivenheten being as melodic as the band gets. The record’s weak spot is definitely its length; certainly a bit of fat could have been trimmed to become a more concise package. Still, Övergivenheten is a very solid album from one of the melodic death metal scene’s biggest and most important acts.
Soilwork – Övergivenheten tracklisting:
2. Nous Somme La Guerre
3. Electric Again
4. Valleys Of Gloam
5. Is It In Your Darkness
7. Morgongåva / Stormfågel
8. Death, I Hear You Calling
9. This Godless Universe
10. Dreams Of Nowhere
11. The Everlasting Flame
13. Harvest Spine
14. On The Wings Of A Goddess / Through Flaming Sheets Of Rain
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