Soilwork - A Whisp of the Atlantic (EP)
Nuclear Blast
Melodic Death, Progressive Metal
5 songs (36:42)
Release year: 2020
Soilwork, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Goat

For all that Swedish songsmiths Soilwork can be too comfortable in their proggy-melodic-kind-of-death-metal niche, they do show more of a willingness to push at their boundaries than others, indulging in a double album and even black metal influence here and there. And so after last year's more than solid Verkligheten we have the band's boundaries pushed further on this EP, featuring their longest song to date at over sixteen minutes. No-one would ever have pegged Soilwork as that adventurous of a band even with the greater progressive elements to their sound in the last ten years, and so this is quite the surprise move from them. Even Nuclear Blast seem a little taken aback, calling this "the most pretentious and progressive song" from the band!

And once you actually give the song (the title track here, boldly opening the EP) a chance without distracting yourself with such musings as what actually the fuck a 'whisp' is, it's pretty good. Beginning softly and building up with chuggy riffs, it doesn't initially do much outside of the band's usual hook-focused songwriting but around six minutes in takes more of a focus on the instrumentation, turning softer and more keyboard-focused, a little backing trumpet and piano adding much to the usual metallic groove as it flows through its various movements. Sure, it's probably closer to two or three songs stuck together than a genuinely single long composition, but kudos to the band (and especially guitarist David Andersson) for trying something new. And it's far from horrible if not especially memorable, suggesting an even greater progressive focus might work well for the band - managing to feel shorter than its running length, too.

The rest of the EP is far more typical for Soilwork, although of course that doesn't mean it is anything but solid. There's plenty of variety; The Nothingness and The Devil is your usual bouncy melodeath fare, intense but catchy and flying past despite being over five minutes long, with a surprisingly atmospheric melodic outro. Feverish has a little more of an 80s rock vibe initially following that, soon turning heavier and indulging itself with blastbeats and more of an intense blasting vibe even while it keeps the vocal hooks. And depending on your tastes, either Desperado's catchy melodic groove or the more groovy and clean-sung Death Diviner will be preferable; both show the band's strengths off very well, from Speed's clean singing to the guitar hooks, and both are good enough to be album material. Soilwork have had their ups and downs over the years but lately they've really hit a formula that works for them and allows plenty of room for manoeuvre to keep things fresh and enjoyable. Poppy, sure, but catchy and fun, and whether making sixteen minute prog epics or four minute bangers they remain hugely fun to listen to and one of modern metal's most vital acts.

Killing Songs :
A Whisp of the Atlantic, Feverish, Desperado
Goat quoted no quote
Other albums by Soilwork that we have reviewed:
Soilwork - Verkligheten reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Soilwork - Death Resonance reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Soilwork - The Ride Majestic reviewed by Goat and quoted 74 / 100
Soilwork - The Living Infinite reviewed by Goat and quoted 75 / 100
Soilwork - The Panic Broadcast reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
To see all 14 reviews click here
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