Soilwork - "The Ride Majestic" (CD)
"The Ride Majestic" track listing:
1. The Ride Majestic (4:09)
2. Alight in the Aftermath (3:47)
3. Death in General (4:59)
4. Enemies in Fidelity (4:16)
5. Petrichor by Sulphur (5:11)
6. The Phantom (3:57)
7. The Ride Majestic (Aspire Angelic) (4:46)
8. Whirl of Pain (5:01)
9. All Along Echoing Paths (4:21)
10. Shining Lights (3:43)
11. Father and Son, Watching the World Go Down (5:40)
Reviewed by xFiruath on September 21, 2015
Soilwork's previous output – lengthy double album “The Living Infinite” (reviewed here) - was a highlight release of 2013, so this long running Swedish melodic metal band set expectations high for the follow-up two years later with “The Ride Majestic.” Based on the advance release of the title track alone, I was expecting simply more of the same: a rehash that rode the wave of “The Living Infinite” but offered nothing new. That expectation gets dashed to pieces by the second track, as this album isn't afraid to go all over the place for inspiration and change the formula repeatedly.
Following the opening title track, “Alight In The Aftermath” goes for a more extreme sound than Soilwork is known for, including some harsher vocals and blasting black metal drum beats, while still meshing in the energetic and clean sounds for a very interesting combination. Across the album, these opposing styles come together as Soilwork moves between melodic death, a dash of tech, some metalcore for the groove, and loads of clean singing balancing out the harsh vocals.
On individual standout tracks, there's a fantastic opening to “Death General” with the guitars going a completely different direction than you'd expect based on the previous two songs, as well as offering a totally different tone to the clean vocals. “Enemies in Fidelity” then heads back into standard melodic death metal territory, but with a crooning clean singing juxtaposed against blasting drums. For a very different change of pace, “Petrichor By Sulphur” throws in some melodic vocals halfway through that strongly bring to mind Ihsahn's solo work.
Learning not to lean on expectations as this album progresses, it seemed like seventh track “The Ride Majestic (Aspire Angelic)” would be a remix or acoustic rendition of the first song. Nope - it's a completely different beast mixing in a solid bevy of soft/melodic and harsh/extreme. Follow-up track “Whirl Of Pain” is a little slow moving considering what the title would suggest, but the organs in the background totally change the soundscape for those paying attention, giving off a slight “Watershed” era Opeth vibe amid all the booming drums and harsh vocals. Out of nowhere a bizarre, horror movie type intro appears on ending track “Father and Son Watching” before slamming into a more prog-oriented guitar section that wouldn't be out of place on an Amorphis album.
“The Ride Majestic” tweaks the vibe just enough between each song so the album doesn't get stale. The tone and tempo are completely different for instance from the ending of “All Along Echoing Paths” to the start of “Shining Lights,” making for a more exciting listen even when the standard melodic death or metalcore elements are present.
I came into this album looking for reasons to not like it as much as the last one, but frankly I can't find any. “The Ride Majestic” has everything that made the previous double album great, but condensed down into a single more manageable disc that exhibits a wider range of sounds. That's exactly what a band should do with new releases – the core sound didn't get completely ditched, but Soilwork didn't just copy/paste from previous efforts either. It's a tough balance to get right, but the Swedish maestros did it.
Highs: Everything that made the last album great is there, along with more experimentation
Lows: Not too many - the title track is pretty similar to the last album, and not everyone will like the amount of softer melodic material.
Bottom line: Soilwork knocks it out of the park by keeping true to the sound of the last album while still experimenting in new directions.
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