A Gift to Soilwork’s Fans
Death Resonance, the newest release from Sweden’s Soilwork, is a compilation including two new tracks recorded just for the album and 13 rarities, previously either included in limited editions of past releases, or unavailable entirely. A little over half of the album’s tracks, the middle portion of which is comprised of an EP titled Beyond the Infinite, had previously only been released in Asia. These newly-compiled songs span sessions from their last proper release, 2015’s The Ride Majestic, back to 2005’s Stabbing the Drama, meaning that just a little over the more recent half of their tenure as a band is represented on the album. They’re presented in reverse chronological order, taking the listener through an inverted version of the development of the band’s sound.
Soilwork’s songs follow a template utilized by many of their Nuclear Blast label mates, juxtaposing melodic major key choruses against brutal metal riffing and occasional noodly guitar leads. It’s well-trodden territory, and at their best, Soilwork is aware of this fact, their strongest choruses having the triumphant intensity of some of Foo Fighters’ more upbeat songs (as is the case with the opening track of the Beyond the Infinite EP portion of the album, “My Nerves, Your Everyday Tool”), while some of their weaker choruses sound like little more than bland radio rock. Fortunately, the heavy parts are performed adeptly, sounding either satisfyingly gut-punching, or in many cases, taking a left-field approach to death metal tropes. About halfway through “Forever Lost in Vain,” for example, a phaser-heavy low-end guitar riff that sounds like an alternate djent reality version of a piece on a Spaghetti Western soundtrack kicks in, which is a memorable moment in a song that alternates between creative musical ideas and sections that sound like could have been written on auto-pilot.
Since the album wasn’t created as a cohesive unit but compiled from what are essentially odds and ends, most of these tracks hinge on experimental moments more so than tight songwriting. On their own, these songs were essentially gifts to die hard fans at various points in their career, which is itself characteristic of the entire album. By 2005, from when the album’s oldest material was taken, Soilwork was already a veteran band, having existed for 10 years, meaning all the material is well-executed. However, without the through-line of a traditional record, the album is far more listenable as a collection of songs that will likely be more interesting to Soilwork fans, who are far more attuned to the band’s inner workings, than a starting point for anyone unfamiliar with their past material.
On a purely practical level, it’s generous of the band to not only have given fans easy access to tracks that were previously difficult to find, but to also have recorded two new songs, which are two of the strongest on the album. This is an essential listen for diehards for that reason. Fans of other Nuclear Blast melodic death metal bands like In Flames or Devildriver will probably love Soilwork too, and though this may not be the ideal entry point into Soilwork’s catalog, it’s nonetheless an album that has many high points that any metal listener can appreciate.