Published Jul 25, 2010It's not until the chorus of "Two Lives Worth of Reckoning," the second song on Soilwork's eighth album, that listeners' ears are going to perk up. Until then it's just the band doing the razor sharp, Gothendeath-lite they helped pioneer, morph and run into the ground. But when said chorus kicks in and those melodic vocals and, more importantly, the insanely catchy vocal hook do their insanely catchy thing, it's tough not to bask in the glory of the Soilwork's best songwriting to date. With the help of line-up changes (original guitarist Peter Wichers is back, there's only one dude named Ola now, etc.), the band have honed their songwriting chops to an almost absurd degree. It's the extreme metal equivalent of those Desmond Child-penned KISS hits of the '80s or, even stranger, the new wave pop of the same decade. The band still bring the intensity, as the riffing on numbers like "King of the Threshold" proves. But those moments end up forgettable compared to the moody '80s rock-meets-Swedish death of tracks like the excellent "Epitome" and "The Akuma Afterglow." Nothing will ever replicate the sucker punch of when Soilwork first became Gothenrock heroes on 2002's Natural Born Chaos, but this, after the same old same old of their last couple discs, comes close.
The album has energy and enthusiasm that your last couple were lacking. Do you agree?
Drummer Dirk Verbeuren: Absolutely. We accomplished a lot during the Stabbing the Drama/Sworn to a Great Divide era, but, looking back, there were too many captains steering the ship. As a band, we're in a much better place now. There's tons of positive energy, which translates into some of our best songs ever.
I also hear a lot of non-metal influence in some of the guitar work and melodies. Sometimes it reminds me of '80s new wave and pop.
Our tastes are super-eclectic ― '80s pop is definitely on our list. Melody has always been an essential part of our sound. This being said, to me, The Panic Broadcast is the heaviest and most technical Soilwork record since [2001's] A Predator's Portrait.
What do you guys do to make your music exciting and different in a scene filled with myriad bands with the same sound?
There are some incredible songwriters in this band and we're not desperately trying to be different. Having been around for a while, our standards are pretty high, especially with this new line-up, which we know are capable of playing just about anything. (Nuclear Blast)