Soilwork The Ride Majestic 01“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” – Conventional wisdom or Will Rogers, no clear date. “We play melodic death metal with metalcore elements and tons of hooky choruses!” – Soilwork via Stabbing the Drama, 2005. Combining these two quotes explains the position from which I’ll tackle Soilwork’s tenth full-length The Ride Majestic. Yes, I’ve heard their “classic” albums, and yes, I think they’re good. Much like looking at your chubby uncle’s JV football pictures on the mantle though, that isn’t the Soilwork I really know. I don’t feel betrayed by their modern direction, because that’s how I “met” the band and got into their material in the first place. With that, I’m done with delaying what we’re all here for: determining whether or not The Ride Majestic is any good.

We’d be naïve to expect a return to the Soilwork style of old, and as assumed, it doesn’t happen here. Stabbing the Drama saw the band Americanize their Swedish sound with elements of metalcore (which itself borrowed heavily from the Swedish melo-death sound) and appropriate these influences in their own naturally Swedish style; think of it like translating Swedish to English to Swedish again via an online translator, but not as incoherent. They smoothed out the wrinkles of this sound on The Panic Broadcast and brought back some relative aggression via the increased presence of Dirk Verbeuren’s blast beats, but naturally they’ve kept the pristine melodic hooks intact and up front. What we’ve ended up with from 2010 onwards is accessible and hook-centric melodic metal that’s eased up on the metalcore but not quite abandoned it, and The Ride Majestic follows this path resolutely.

Furthering the theme of business as usual are Soilwork’s strengths on The Ride Majestic. Opening strong with the title track, they begin on a lead that brings Opeth to mind and this predictably segues into the band’s usual “what modern In Flames should be doing”-core. This is great, as it has their usual friendly aggression vibe and Bjorn Strid’s crooning and shouting is as catchy as ever. “The Ride Majestic (Aspire Angelic)” is a riff on the theme of the opener with another earworm chorus that’s been stuck in my head since I first heard it, and I don’t mind a bit; it has that almost bluesy feel of “The Thrill” and it really works here. I don’t much care for Soilwork’s slower songs, but “Whirl of Pain” managed to impress me in a big way with its great hooks and solid performances by every band member. While it’s certainly on the poppy side, “Death in General” is an enjoyable ditty that utilizes all of the gizmos in Soilwork’s tool belt to a satisfying degree and drove me to hit play repeatedly to hear those sweet, sugary hooks again.

Soilwork The Ride Majestic 02

The Ride Majestic falters both when it moves away from what the band does well and when their modern formula produces comparatively lesser results. “Alight in the Aftermath” isn’t exactly bursting with energy or replay value and its verse sounds like Soilwork trying to appropriate lighter black metal a la Watain, but they throw in a hooky clean-sung chorus as if Sweden made them subject to some strange musical bylaw requiring them to do just that. “Phantom” sees the band trying to incorporate even more black metal elements (it’s main riff sounds like a poppier “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas”), but it’s a series of forced contrasts instead of a song that evolves naturally, and even with aggressive performances by Strid and Verbeuren, it’s no surprise when the crooning and typical melodeath leads rear their polished heads. When it comes to Soilwork being legitimately heavy or extreme, we know the emperor has no clothes; the striptease is unnecessary. “Petrichor by Sulphur” is too long for its own good, and about three and a half minutes in Soilwork throws out an unimpressive and awkward impression of Ihsahn’s lighter solo material apropos of nothing. “Shining Lights” and “Enemies in Fidelity” are Soilwork-by-numbers that aren’t as catchy or worthwhile as their counterparts here, making them largely skippable tracks.

Soilwork haven’t thrown any curveballs on The Ride Majestic, but it’s overall a weaker offering than The Panic Broadcast and The Living Infinite, albeit not by a huge margin. The production is once again handled by Jens Borgen and sounds clean, crisp, and virtually identical to The Living Infinite, nicely showcasing the talents of every member. I’ll be keeping a few of these songs on a playlist because Soilwork still knows how to write some great tunes, but I’m left wishing more of those were included on The Ride Majestic.


Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Websites: soilwork.org | facebook.com/soilwork
Releases Worldwide: August 28, 2015

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  • Lasse Momme

    More than anything this is just a supremely dull and boring record to me. nothing stands out to me and I’m still left frustrated every single god damn time the chorus turns to clean vocals. zero variation, zero innovation, zero ambition too it would seem.

    yawn/5

  • AndySynn

    Similar thoughts to my own it seems, though with some variations in song preference (largely identified the same “filler” tracks though).

    Funnily enough you’re not the first person I’ve seen make mention of the Black Metal-lite elements, though I completely zoned out on them in my own write-up… it certainly doesn’t help that they’re in some of the worst songs on the album.

    I would have given it higher I suppose, if we applied numerical ratings, but I think that’s just because I liked a higher number of songs than you did, rather than down to any deep philosophical differences!

    • Give. Me. My. Camels!

      • AndySynn

        Give. Me. Head.

        • This marriage is just not working for me.

          • AndySynn

            You knew what you were getting into.

          • Do you guys need counseling?

          • “Do you guys need counseling already?”

            Fixed.

          • Dr. Scorpion

            They need a nice whipping.Hehehehe (evil load ,uh,i mean lagh).

          • sir_c

            must say, it is one throbbing community here

          • It makes me quiver with excitement.

          • Dr. Scorpion

            We’ve gotten a real Tom(b), Dick & Harry situation on hand over here.

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            This is a weird thread to stumble into…

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        All this confusion started when you got offered camels and you thought of the actual animals instead of cigarrettes.

  • Kevin Dillon

    Yeah idk, I used to like them — they still have a special place for me as they were one of the bands that introduced me into heavier stuff. But recently the writing has been boring and generic. Living Infinite was like 20 songs that all sound exactly the same. They play it way too safe, especially given the talent they have in the band (I like Bjorn’s vocals, I love Dirk’s drumming, and Sylvain obviously had talent in Scarve) but they never seem to move out of their comfort zone in Soilwork. Meh

  • Hammersmith

    I liked Chainheart Machine and to a lesser extent Natural Born Chaos, but they lost me after Figure Number Five. Sounds like I’m not missing much.

  • Oh c’mon now! You’re just pissed off that this wasn’t a triple album. Admit it.

    • omfg. my head will explode.

    • brutal_sushi

      no… but the new Swallow the Sun album will be :)

    • Martin Knap

      triple album… I would soil myself.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      In my defense, I actually wanted TLI Squared, the quadruple album sequel.

  • dduuurrrr dddduuuurrrr

    Has anyone really done anything interesting with the Gothenburg sound in the last 10 years?

    • DIMENSIONAL BLEEDTHROUGH

      I listened to Clayman while cleaning my room the other day!

    • Vice-President of Hell

      At the Gates, for example

      • The question stands.

        • Vice-President of Hell

          So, maybe any Black Dahlia Murder album?
          trollface.jpg

    • Here’s Johnny

      I’m sure you as an elitist will tell us, no.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      I think it may be at the “just write good songs, dammit!” point in its evolution.

  • replica

    Soilwork falls into that same comfort zone as Motorhead and Fear Factory. It it were a dish, it would be like the powdered macaroni and cheese that grandma used to make; it wasn’t great, but sometimes I crave a bowl.

    • Here’s Johnny

      Motorhead isn’t great? Wrong site mate. Lemmy is fucking god. Every day is a Motorhead day.

      • replica

        I ain’t mad about Motorhead. Just that most albums are the same. I liked Aftershock.

  • Handy Donut Hole

    I tried my damnedest to get into this but its not happening not one fucking bit.

  • gustman17

    The released songs sounded good to me, right on the path traced by its two predecessors. I found that “Enemies in Fidelity” had enough details and flourishes not to be considered a filler, and at least shows how Soilwork’s songwriting is miles ahead from In Flames and the thousand Gothenburg wannabees. (And yeah, I’m pretty much a fanboy).

    I don’t quite get the metalcore comparisons though… for FN5 through the horrid sounding “Sworn…” I get it, but for their latest two I can only think of Speed’s “Tom Araya on steroids” vocals and maybe the harsh/clean trope (which Soilwork plays around a lot more than many other modern gothenburg bands… even Amorphis choruses tend to be more predictable).

  • Doomdeathrosh

    This is stylistically closer to the current In Flames than any other ex-Gotherburg band out there.
    On a tangent, I wanna know how Dirk Verbeuren feels after leaving Aborted to be here.

    • Kevin Dillon

      He was never in aborted. He just did session work for them. He does session work for tons of bands and honestly he probably feels pretty decent about Soilwork. He supports himself entirely on drumming and I’m sure Soilwork brings in a larger paycheck then most other bands. That being said, I believe he is overly talented for the music Soilwork puts out.

      • Doomdeathrosh

        The point I was trying to make is Soilwork just seems too easy for Dirk after Aborted.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Well, what they should be doing. Modern In Flames was an absolute joke on their last record and the one before, it made me a bit sad.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Bad week for new releases; great week for comments.

  • Oscar Albretsen

    About what I had expected. I kinda liked a couple of their albums from the early 2000s, but not thatt much. There newer stuff has been pretty ho-hum, and until I saw this review, I didn’t even know they were releasing this. Oh well.

  • sir_c

    The vocalist does a much more enjoyable job in The Night Flight Orchestra. But I guess we already determined that fact here at AMG.

  • Luke_22

    Yeah mostly disappointing effort following the (bloated) return to form of the Living Infinite, which was the first Soilwork album in a long haul that I actually enjoyed. Good write-up.

  • sickbroski

    Oh, metal doesn’t have to have shitty production? Who knew…

    So if I like the video, I should like the album?

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Depends on what you like about Soilwork. If you like the feel and structure of that song, you’ll be pretty underwhelmed by a good chunk of it.

  • JL

    Yea not a very good band; even their earlier material is a poor man’s melodeath.. I’m not surprised they got a low score. Nice review.

    • Narune

      Gonna have to strongly disagree with you on that. I’m currently loving every bit of this new album. To each their own.

  • Greg Hasbrouck

    “Soilwork haven’t thrown any curveballs on The Ride Majestic…”

    Your review seems to be at odds with your summation. Opeth, Watain, Mayhem and Ihsahn aren’t points of reference in any Soilwork review I recall.

    “… but it’s overall a weaker offering than The Living Infinite, albeit not by a huge margin.”

    If that’s true, than a 2.0 seems a bit unfair. Although Soilwork lost me after Natural Born Chaos, I would have rated The Living Infinite a 4.5. So if this release is only a bit weaker, I’ll probably enjoy it a good deal.

    • Geno816

      Agreed. Living Infinite was actually really good.

    • Fandorin

      For me too this work deserves a better score.

  • CarvedInStone

    I’m looking forward to this. I enjoyed their last two albums a lot and judging by the preview songs it’s going in the same direction so I’m okay with it.

  • Fredrik

    Most reviews I have read hail it as one of the best metal albums of the year, and some even one of the best Soilwork albums. But would not expect someone who hasn’t liked the previous albums very much to give any better to this one. Funny how some reviews like the twist with “heavier and darker” parts of some songs, while others call them dull or blant tho

  • boiledburgers

    You failed to mention Dirk Verbueren’s awe-inspiring peformance. But i agree that when he finally slows down on Whirl of Pain we get some of the album’s best guitar hooks when they have some room to breathe.

  • Ben Schepers

    I hate this “It’s not AS good as Living, so it sucks” overreacting of people. Try to look objectively at how you qualify here.

    From the 10 spins I gave it, I give the Ride a easy 4.0/5.0. It may become higher as it grows. I love the album. It has some more extreme metal (Scarvy) influences and different melodic vibes than other albums, very well executed. From predictably poppy cheesy chorusses, to very technical, extremely intense parts. I fucking love it. A darker vibe, yet still very colorful album.

    Soilwork has come with just enough new vibes to keep it interesting, yet still have a very recognisable sound. Not many bands can do that. My opinion. I will listen to this one for at least another 6 weeks, probably.

  • Djinnenjous

    I’d rather slam my hand in a car door than be the guy who publicly slaps this album with anything less than a 4/5. Jesus Christ, is 2/5 ever off the mark!

  • Reese Burns

    I know this comment is late, but for me, this is my favourite Soilwork album. Every song sounds so heroic, and these guys know how to make themselves sound important. It’s catchy, fun, memorable, all I could really want from them. To each their own though!

  • tomlikeabomb

    I’m really surprised at the rating for this one o_O. I could see 3.5 stars if you didn’t love it but 2? This album is fantastic in my opinion. Usually I agree with the reviews here.