Soilwork - The Living Infinite
Nuclear Blast
Melodic Death Metal
Disc 1: 10 songs (39:59) Disc 2: 10 songs (44:01)
Release year: 2013
Soilwork, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

Might as well face up to it, guys - we're never going to get pre-Natural Born Chaos Soilwork back again, and the furious, galloping likes of A Predator's Portrait are lost to time. That's not to denigrate everything that came after, of course (I still think Stabbing The Drama is a damn good album...) and 2010's The Panic Broadcast was and is excellent. Yet the departure of chief songwriter Peter Wichers last year clearly led to Strid wanting to prove the band could function effectively without him, pushing himself and the band arguably too far by making The Living Infinite into a double album. I raised an eyebrow at first hearing the news (I love Soilwork, but one hour and twenty minutes of the same song structure, as someone pointed out on the forum, does not a good record make) and that eyebrow hasn't come down upon actually hearing the final result; chiefly because they've very nearly succeeded. Nearly. Although the song structures are, admittedly, nothing that will cause any ruction in the jazzy tech-death community, there's a good effort to mix things up and be unpredictable, keeping the album sounding fresh and your ears peeled. There's more than just bells and whistles atop mediocre songwriting - on the contrary, there are a lot of excellent songs here. Opener Spectrum of Eternity starts with a classy cello and goes on to rip furiously into a melodeath stomper that initially hearkens back to A Predator's Portrait in speed and viciousness, although the epic clean-vocalled chorus is quite clearly modern Soilwork, as is the ensuing grooving breakdown. Yet you can't really fault it, from the pitch-perfect chorus to the melodic soloing; if all Soilwork was out to do on this album is prove that they can operate without Wichers, then on this evidence alone the job is done.

The band keep impressing, however, never content to just throw catchy songs at you. Emotionally-charged anthems like Memories Confined and Whispers and Lights will please fans of the band's recent years, atmospherically perfect, modern and commercial without neglecting the metal side, which is always catered to wonderfully by the guitars. New man David Andersson joins Sylvain Coudret in cranking out the riffs, always worth hearing in their own merit without Strid's epic, memorable choruses. And yes, often it can seem that songs are built around these choruses, but godamnit, it works - the likes of This Momentary Bliss are perfect pop for people who like underground metal, not least because they refuse to cater to the lowest common denominator, and throw in solos and drum frills not to mention blastbeats. The lovely progressive meander thrown into the triumphant Tongue is a highlight, as is the noteworthy speed of the rampaging Let the First Wave Rise (Terror 2000 fans, hello), Vesta's introductory spaghetti-western strings, and the prog-infused thrash of Realms of the Wasted.

And it's then you realise you have another disc full of songs to listen to, and that that isn't a frightening thought. Au contraire, if they're as solid as the first CD, then it's very welcome. And although in reality it's far less solid (Entering Aeons is a filler-y intro that could easily have been dropped, Antidotes in Passing didn't do much for me) there's still lots of excellence. Stomping anthem Long Live the Misanthrope and the blastbeat-fuelled thrashy Leech have some of Strid's best vocal work atop everything else. Instrumental Loyal Shadow actually works quite well, moving a step towards embracing the technical side of the band's sound (something Soilwork often seem to toy with but never choose over catchiness) and the title tracks (parts I and II, on different CDs) are especially interesting, both fusing acoustic strum with tech-metal straight from 2002 in different ways - digitalised and cold at first, then warm and human in the second part. Finale Owls Predict, Oracles Stand Guard is sadly not as out-there as its name, being a slightly metalcore-y mid-paced pounder that doesn't quite work as it should. All in all, the first CD is definitely the best, and there's enough worth listening to on the second to make the whole thing worth buying, but if you at all suspected that Soilwork were stretching themselves thin with this project, then you will definitely find evidence of that here. Even the cover art is suspect - clean and stylish in a dry way, sure, but it does rather make the album look like a best-of collection. And who listens to best-of collections, or even double-albums, in a single sitting? I didn't review this in one sitting, and I haven't listened to it all in a single sitting. We're in the year 2013, for heaven's sake, it's quite possible to make a long album without falling into double-album tedium. Sometimes, too much is just too much, and although The Living Infinite contains an excellent Soilwork album, there's enough filler to make it a less-than-amazing Soilwork release when all is said and done. So recommending this is hard, unless you want too much Soilwork...

Killing Songs :
Spectrum of Eternity, This Momentary Bliss, Tongue, Let the First Wave Rise, Long Live the Misanthrope, Leech, Parasite Blues
Goat quoted 75 / 100
Other albums by Soilwork that we have reviewed:
Soilwork - A Whisp of the Atlantic (EP) reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
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 Panic Broadcast reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
To see all 14 reviews click here
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