“Övergivenheten” is quite a powerful word, most of us can relate to being abandoned but also the fear of abandoning something or someone! You can see it in many different ways, there’s a lot of stuff going on right now in the world such as war…”
For the past 34 years I have done metal press/journalism and throughout that time I have reviewed countless albums but more importantly I have interviewed many folks from bands that I admire, revere and love. As a fan I feel honoured to chat to these people that influence not only my life but yours, the listener getting a small glimpse into their world of artistic brilliance that has made a massive impact on our lives. Many of those bands I have followed and listened to for the entirety of their creative lives and one of those bands is Sweden’s Soilwork.
Born out of the initial early “Gothenburg” melodeath renaissance which saw birth of Meshuggah, At The Gates, In Flames and Dark Tranquility to name a mere few, Soilwork were (and continue to be) a force majeure in the early infancy of stellar melodeath and maintain both its and their relevance of the genre still to this day thanks to 27 or so years of music with a catalogue of 13 albums. That in itself says something of Soilwork’s commitment and relevance to a genre and the metal world as a whole.
Minimising my fan-boying when talking to vocalist and only original member left in the band, Björn “Speed” Strid was difficult, as can be heard early on in the interview and for that I make no apologies!
Being the only original founding member of Soilwork left in the band, first off I asked “Speed” about what was his original intention behind the bands motivations and where he is at now compared to where he wanted to be back at Soilwork’s inception as a young man in 1995 when they were initially called “Inferior Breed”. “We were just a bunch of friends that were really into metal and we wanted to create our own little beast. It was very innocent but quite ambitious! There were a lot of bands that we liked at that time; Carcass with “Heartwork” was a key album, In Flames came out with “Jester Race”, At The Gates – “Slaughter Of The Soul” and even Strapping Young Lad with “City” that was something special! And also Devin Townsend’s solo stuff…I was inspired by his singing as well! From the get go we wanted to create, as much as we were into that scene we wanted to do something on our own. Something special, something that was gonna stick out and not just another band in “Gothenburg” scene. I think we managed even though it took some time before we found our identity, it took us some albums!”
Having time off due to covid, Björn confesses to being able to fully reflect on Soilwork’s contribution and creation of his band; “…looking back, I mean, some of the stuff that we released was really ahead of its time especially an album like “Natural Born Chaos” and it’s only now that I fully realise how much of an impact they had and I guess still do. There are still people and young bands name dropping those (early) albums and it’s a very special feeling!”
Soilwork’s 13th album “Övergivenheten” is released this Friday and I asked Björn about the interpretation of the title being “The Abandonment” and its relevance to covid but also the translation of the accompanying video? “…“Övergivenheten” is quite a powerful word, most of us can relate to being abandoned but also the fear of abandoning something or someone! You can see it in many different ways, there’s a lot of stuff going on right now in the world such as war you know.” Björn elaborates in reference to the video creation; “we only gave some key words to what the title actually means to us and we wanted to give the video director his own interpretation of it and I think he did really well. It’s a very powerful video with a lot of emotion running through it especially with what’s going on in the world right now and it’s definitely one of the best videos we’ve put out there!”
Following on from this, Björn then continues to reflect about the recent past of both himself and his position as frontman for Soilwork. “Having this break now for the first time in pretty much twenty years, the latest years hasn’t always been easy to be in this band, to be on tour. There’s (been) many times where I feel that I need to quit but there is always something in the last second pulling me in and every time I feel ready to quit I’m like “Can I abandon this?” I can’t because it means too much. It’s an interesting relationship and it keeps on giving. It is a very special band and there is no better way to express your feelings than creating music”.
Soilwork stated that the intent behind “Övergivenheten” was that they specifically wanted it to sound organic, which was a concept that both excited and intrigued me, so I asked Björn to explain this concept behind the new album’s creation and did they successfully achieve it? “I would say that it’s a tough balance for us. I would say it needs to sound like a band playing you know and not this compressed storm coming towards you which we hear a lot today in the music scene. Everything is extremely compressed and the dynamics are getting lost, which I think is another key word – “dynamics”, so you can actually feel that. So when we were taking things down in the songs, you need to feel it you know. That’s where it becomes organic to me that it is like all the instruments sounds organic and it sounds like a real band playing as if they would be in your living room. But, that being said, it also really needs to hit you, to have a really powerful sound to it!…I think if you as a band have a mutual vision in what it is you do and that you’re well rehearsed and you’re used to playing live you shouldn’t have to cover it up too much or try to improve it by compressing things or making things hit harder than they actually do in real life, what I mean like with all these triggers!” Finishing up Björn states matter of factly that, “I think there’s a balance there as well, this is as close as we feel we can get where finding the balance in being completely organic but also very hard hitting but really staying true to reality.”
Listening to the full interview Björn and I delve into varying topics such as the impact that Soilwork have had on some of metals finest and most revered bands, his decade long musical compansionship with guitarist David Andersson and their lyrical writing / interpretation and much more plus playing some of Soilwork’s finest songs both past and present.
Soilwork’s – “Övergivenheten” is out this Friday 19th August via Nuclear Blast Records and they are touring Australia this coming November at the following venues:
Soilwork – 2022 Australian Tour Dates
Tickets on sale now via Hardline Media
11/1 Perth, AUS – Magnet House
11/2 Adelaide, AUS – Lion Arts Factory
11/3 Sydney, AUS – Manning Bar
11/4 Melbourne, AUS – Croxton
11/5 Brisbane, AUS – The Zoo