Live In The Heart Of Helsinki
Review by Alexander Sievers
Listening to a live CD without the visuals is like listening to porn without the on-screen visuals – there are easier alternatives, like just watching turning on the screen and to quit beating around the bush (that pun was accidental, I swear).
The problem I have with live CD releases is that if you cannot capture the atmosphere and excitement of the crowd or the band at said show then why the fuck should I even bother with it? Sadly, Live In The Heart Of Helsinki, the double live CD doesn’t enthrall me; it just bores me. See, I could just as well watch the live DVD part of this release or I could just look at images of Soilwork online and imagine they were moving on their own. Or you know, just listen through the actual records and end up with the same result. On top of all that, even without a live CD release, it’s almost guaranteed that you can find live footage of a band somewhere out on the Interwebs (check the bottom of this review to see what I found in five fucking minutes). It is 2015, after all, and Soilwork are not a small, unknown band by any means.
Apart from the pre and post song cheers and whenever singer Björn ‘Speed’ Strid asks the crowd to “Make some fucking noise”, there’s not really much engagement for the listener, unless you were already familiar with the songs. If you’ve been to enough metal shows, maybe you can imagine the crowd jumping up and down and raising those “beautiful horns” for the Swedish veterans. Now I suppose that’s my main issue with this release; I am constantly reminded that there were a fuck ton of people having a much better experience than me while experiencing this as it was supposed to be experienced – in the flesh, in that venue, on that night, with the band performing right in front of me.
Sadly, I wasn’t in Helsinki when this went down, and I doubt a lot of people who hear it would have been.
Now with a massive 23 song set list, the band do cover a fair amount of their discography and I’m going to assume that the die-fans will lap that shit up like it’s going out of style. Distortion Sleep, Spectrum of Eternity, This Momentary Bliss, Nerve, and Long Live The Misanthrope, and are some of the better songs the band performs. The metal veterans do bring some of their peers out throughout the set. Let This River Flow features Nightwish’s Floor Jansen and for Black Star Deceiver Sonic Syndicate singer Nathan J. Biggs comes out to lend a hand (or voice, or lung, or voice box, whatever). Oh and yes, the group closes the show out with Stabbing The Drama and it’s still one ripper of a tune, even ten years on, feel old yet?
Much like In Flames, these melodic Swedish metallers have had their riffs imitated and outright stolen countless times from Western metalcore bands over the years like there was some kind of store wide clearance going on as the band ordered to many riffs and swirling solos from the factory. The solos are still as buttery smooth, as on point and as sweet as they ever were. This positive brings me to a negative that I didn’t think I’d actually say. The release has been captured and mixed quite well, in fact so well that I might as well have just listened through their discography for how close it sounds to the original released product. So now I am just adding that to the list of ‘Reasons why I shouldn’t listen to this again’.
Now obviously the band wouldn’t have gotten this far if they weren’t a great band with some great tracks, so don’t misinterpret this as me bashing the bands ability, cause that’s not what I’m getting at here, as one listens through the set, it only confirms the band’s musical talent. Good on you Soilwork for still playing so damn well after all these years.
Look, if you’ve never seen the band live then you would probably get a kick out of this. If you have seen the band in the flesh then maybe you’ll get some blissful nostalgia out of it. Hell, if you were at the show itself then this is basically a bit of history for you and the band. Otherwise, just watch the live DVD section of this release and keep this as a mere memento that takes up time, space and dust like those ‘10 things we learnt at Soundwave’ lists that pop up like a bad batch of Black Death in medieval Europe every March.