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Soilwork - "The Panic Broadcast" (CD)

Soilwork - "The Panic Broadcast" CD cover image

"The Panic Broadcast" track listing:

1. Late for the Kill, Early for the Slaughter
2. Two Lives Worth of Reckoning
3. The Thrill
4. Deliverance Is Mine
5. Night Comes Clean
6. King of the Threshold
7. Let This River Flow
8. Epitome
9. The Akuma Afterglow
10. Enter Dog of Pavlov
11. Sweet Demise (Limited Edition Bonus Track)

Reviewed by on July 2, 2010

"'The Panic Broadcast' definitely feels more like a thrash release than melodic death metal at times, but it is a solid display of musicianship."

In recent years, the veterans of Swedish melodic death metal have lost their way what with In Flames trending towards alt-metal and Dark Tranquillity putting out three consecutive albums with very little difference between them. Even the recent At the Gates reunion did not yield any new music. Soilwork’s last album “Sworn to a Great Divide” was no exception as they eschewed their former sound for a more simple, thrash-oriented record. So with “The Panic Broadcast,” I was hoping for a return to Soilwork’s powerful brand of melodic death metal.

The album opens with one of it’s heaviest tracks, “Late for the Kill, Early for the Slaughter,” with blistering riffage reminiscent of the latest Dimension Zero work. The chorus for this song is probably also the most memorable on the album. They follow up with “Two Lives of Reckoning” that displays classic Soilwork clean vocals courtesy of Bjorn “Speed” Strid that harkens back to “Natural Born Chaos.”

Many of the main riffs have a Lamb of God vibe to them and aren’t exceptionally interesting but definitely heavy, paired with blistering double-bass drumming. The synthesizers seem to take a back seat in this album, possibly influenced by the return of guitarist Peter Wilchers to the studio. “Let This River Flow” starts with an acoustic intro and maintains an emotional vibe, thanks to Bjorn’s best singing on the disc. Those hoping for a return to classic melodeath will probably enjoy “The Akuma Afterglow” which has a solid main riff and the genre trademark twin-lead guitars. The album finishes on a strong note with “Enter Dog of Pavlov,” which represents some of the most experimental work of the band’s career and maintains an aggressive stance straight through to the end.

What sets this album apart from its predecessor is the lead guitar work, with the majority of the songs containing frantic, thrashy solos. These are often preceded by solid interludes that display some of the best musicianship on the album. It was a pleasure to listen to Wichers and Sylvain Coudret trade off solos throughout the album, much like the most recent releases from Annihilator and Megadeth.

Soilwork appears to be back on track after a lackluster previous release, but the main problem with this album is that it contains few memorable songs or choruses. Sure “20 More Miles” wasn’t a brilliant display of lyrical penmanship, but it did get stuck in my head. This album definitely feels more like a thrash release than melodic death metal at times, but it is a solid display of musicianship, just not quite on par with their greatest albums such as “The Chainheart Machine” and “Predator’s Portrait.” Soilwork doesn’t rise above more recent arrivals on the scene like Scar Symmetry with “The Panic Broadcast” but there are enough moments in this album to make it worth a listen.

Highs: Solo guitar work is some of the best from this band in years.

Lows: There are very few memorable melodies in this album.

Bottom line: A thrashy effort that is musically a step forward from their 2008 release "Sworn to a Great Divide."

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)