By Nick French
Many bands who reach double digits in albums produced approach their music from a slightly cynical base – whether it be following new trends to attract a new audience; going through the motions because that’s all they know; or perhaps staying where the dollars are to be made. Swedish legends Soilwork are certainly doing none of those things – and it shows.
Energetic frontman Björn “Speed” Strid discussed the band’s milestone tenth album The Living Infinite in comparison to their earlier work, proudly exclaiming, “I think the [latest] material is way more playful. It’s not like we’re forcing it to be like ‘let’s now throw in the chorus there, let’s have something else’. We don’t really talk like that. It’s naturally playful, and I think it’s really interesting, there’s a lot of twists and turns on the album as well, and I’m really pleased with it.”
He continues, “In the mid-90’s, we had pretty simple song structures. Don’t get me wrong, I love Figure Number Five and Stabbing The Drama and all that, but after a while, I think we sort of got stuck there a little bit, you knew what to expect from us. I think once David [Andersson, guitars] and Sylvain [Coudret, guitars] came into the band, they brought something new as well – they challenged me as a singer to step outside my comfort zone and kind of threw me some material that… challenged me to develop as a singer as well.”
The singer faced challenges from other sources too, managing to channel them into something positive. He explains, “While the recording was going on, we had several deaths within our families. My 94 year-old grandma passed away during the recording – she lived a very long and good life, but she was one of my absolute best friends, so I actually had to leave in the middle of recording to go home and grab her hand for the last time, look her in eye and say goodbye, which was really rough, then go back to the studio. That was right before I started recording the vocals. I think it also affected me with the approach to recording. Even before that, we had the vision of [a] ‘letting in the darkness feel’ to it, that’s what we wanted to do, and make it even more melancholic in a sense.”
On the style of the new album, Speed elaborates. “It’s definitely picking up where we left with The Living Infinite, but I think it’s slightly darker. The extreme parts are more extreme, and the softer parts are almost a little bit softer, but it creates a really nice dynamic I would say, and it’s pretty melancholic overall. It feels a little bit like a new era of Soilwork musically.”
It’s a new era for Soilwork on a personnel front also – it was announced in June this year that bassist Ola Flink, who had been with the band since their debut album Steelbath Suicide, had left, to be replaced by ex-Hearts Alive bassist Markus Wibom. Strid says of the transition, “He [Flink] basically came to a road in his life where he just felt like needed to step down, because we’ve see him being pretty frustrated like in three or four years being on tour. He’s been either on fire on stage, or just standing in a corner just looking really depressed. I’m gonna be honest, it [his departure] was really rough, and I couldn’t really picture anybody at the time being able to replace Ola, because he’s such a character and anybody who’s seen him live when he’s on fire – you know what I’m talking about. I think he brought something, so much intensity to the performance. Markus is an old friend – we gave him two months to rehearse and then we did three shows in Scandinavia with him and he absolutely nailed it. We were really, really happy to see that because… on a personal level he’s a kick-ass guy, and I think he’s also going to bring something interesting to the band.”
For Soilwork, interesting times indeed lie ahead.
Ride The Majestic is out now via Nuclear Blast.
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