Soilwork // The Living Infinite
Rating: 2.0/5.0 — The Infinite Meh
Label: Nuclear Blast [EU] | [US]
Websites: facebook/soilwork |
Release Date: EU: 2013.03.01 | US: 03.05.2013

Soilwork-The-Living-Infinite-e1355813777795In recent years, euro-thrash veterans Soilwork have reached near-Megadeth levels of member turnover and failure to live up to expectations. After bursting out of the gate with now-classic albums like The Chainheart Machine and Predator’s PortraitSoilwork softened with age, and produced a few albums of increasingly slick melodeath-by-numbers. Some fans have blamed the drop in quality on the departure of guitarist/songwriter Peter Wichers, and his return on 2011’s marginally improved The Panic Broadcast did support that theory. However, the reunion with Wichers was short-lived, and Soilwork has now taken the super-ballsy step of releasing a double album in his absence, The Living Infinite.

The album kicks off with “Spectrum of Eternity,” a blastbeat-fueled melodic thrasher that is a pretty good approximation of what Soilwork is supposed to sound like. Ditto for first single “This Momentary Bliss,” although this one is so polished and catchy, it’s kind of ridiculous. If there was a Rent-style musical about Soilwork, this is what it would sound like. New guitarist David Andersson (Night Flight Orchestra) makes his debut on this album, playing the more melodic counterpart to the shredding of guitarist Sylvain Coudret (ex-Scarve). There are quite a few blast-tastic tracks scattered about the album, and while it seems a little forced at times, the commitment to high energy is much appreciated (at least by me).

Elsewhere, things get a little questionable. Tracks like “The Windswept Mercy” and “Antidotes in Passing” are shamelessly commercial, and pretty much indefensible for all but the most diehard Soilwork fans (who I’m sure will crucify me in the comments section of this review) [Fanboy alert! Steel Druhm]. At best, these sound like a more progressive take on the band’s Stabbing the Drama-era. At worst, they practically crave your affection, like a 17-year-old girl with daddy issues. For a band that supposedly has something to prove, songs like these are pretty much the LAST thing that they should be putting out. Regardless, it’s pretty obvious that this is where the band’s collective head is at these days.

Soilwork 2013But Soilwork is guilty of a crime far worse than releasing songs that are overproduced and pandering, and that is releasing songs that are forgettable. The 90-minute duration of The Living Infinite does leave quite a few hooks that stick to the brain, but there are just as many songs that I’ll probably never remember or want to listen to again. This could be a byproduct of simply having too many goddamn songs, but it also underlines the fact that this style of metal has been done to death and beyond, both by Soilwork themselves and by the countless bands that followed in their wake. I can’t help the feeling that I’ve heard this all before, and whether I heard it on Steelbath SuicideSworn to a Great Divide, or a fucking Demon Hunter album is kind of irrelevant. Even some of the Panic Broadcast material, like “Enter Dog of Pavlov,” becomes oddly compelling in comparison to a lot of what’s going on here.

As science has repeatedly shown, double albums are usually about 50% useless, or at least severely lacking in cohesion. About half the songs on Infinite would make for a fairly slamming (if overproduced) old-school Soilwork album. The other half could be rounded up to form a very melodic record in the vein of their more recent work. This is exactly why things like iTunes were invented. Go get the tracks that sound like whatever version of Soilwork you dig, and skip the rest.

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  • Man you guys are on a serious tear slamming popular Feb releases. This definitely could’ve been an absolutely killer single album if they had cut the fat. But even so, a 2.0 is kind of harsh for what is easily their best since Natural Born Chaos and an obvious two steps up in quality relative to their last decade of god-awful albums. I’d say 3.0 feels more right, maybe an extra .5 for the effort.

    • Ha, well. Yeah, I think this fair because as a whole the thing is bloated and not great. The funny thing is that some of the most convincing Soilwork material in over a decade is on this record (see the embedded clip, I love that song). But yeah, man, I had trouble making it through the first disc in a single go.

      And the fact that the record is TWO 45 minute 10-song CDs tells you just how formulaic this writing really is.

    • Faustian Bargain

      Slamming where slamming is due is what makes this a more reliable place to go. I don’t like some of the stuff they give high marks on, but I can understand why they would (usually). Honesty and a notion for what is really good makes this a decent site to visit.

      • I don’t see how you can understand a high grade for something you don’t like. Most of the time I have no idea what’s going on in this place (Sabaton for ROTY being a prime example), I just know I’ll get some well informed recommendations or warnings in the process. Sometimes the recommendations are just disguised as warnings (–> RIITIIR). Can’t promise I won’t go mental if and when they give my favorite band a shitty review, though.

        • Att du inte tycker om Sabaton… Skäms ska du!

          RIITIIR was big, bloated and boring. History will judge it poorly. But you keep coming back, so hey, we must be doing something right. :)

          • Titellåten på Carolus Rex är riktigt bra, det kan jag ge dig. ^^ Hittade Weather Systems och God is an Automaton genom sidan, sedan dess var jag fast!

  • I’m pretty sure I’ll completely disagree with this review once I get the album… I LOVE the 4 songs they’ve released so far and I prefer their newer music to the older anyway. The Panic Broadcast is one of my favorites.

    • Well, if you love their new shit you’ll probably dig this. I just think it’s bloated as hell. And a disappointment.

      • Realize this is OT, but out of curiosity, what do you think of the direction In Flames has gone? I started listening to both bands back in 2002, and while I love new Soilwork, I just can’t get into In Flames’s new stuff.

        • I think In Flames is terrible now. Really, really bad.

          • I second that. In Flames went from great to simply grating.

          • And yet that album got the same score as this one… doesn’t really add up.

          • We rate albums. This _album_ is “disappointing.” I actually was too nice to In Flames, I’ll give you that.

          • Junior

            In Flames, after Clayman, is totally disappointing.

        • Eryops

          In Flames has taken Trivium everywhere with them for the last few years. That should tell you everything you need to know about the direction they’re going.

          • Dude, the last two Trivium albums (Shogun, especially) blow the last two In Flames albums away. And In Flames were my favourite band for years.

  • MetalMartin

    Thanks! You just saved me $$! I just cancelled my iTunes pre-order.

    • Faustian Bargain

      why would you pre-order digital? It won’t sell out. I never understood that notion.

    • Why would you cancel based on 1 persons opinion?

    • Fisting_Andrew_Golota

      Sure thing, buddy.

    • MetalMartin

      Well, I’m amazed by all the comments so far. Due to all of that, I have changed my decision and will check out this double album. I know at least some songs are very good, and I like a lot melo-death, especially if it’s well executed. I’m convinced Soilwork’s musicians are very capable with their instruments.

  • At first I want to say that I’m indeed a big Soilwork fan.
    Said that, I must say that this review is a bit harsh. Ofcourse, the whole Soilwork sound has become commercial and catchy, but, although Wichers has left again, the typical Soilwork atmosphere has not left. Actually I find it done a bit better than on The Panic BC. The combination of good vibe, tight riffage and vicious drumming, makes it a good follow-up to The Panic BC. Even the guitar solos are still exciting. As said by Donald Moenning; at least a 3.0 would be much more fitting.

    Just my opinion, As your review was yours :)

    • Fisting_Andrew_Golota

      I hear ya, man. But according to AMG’s grading system, 3.0 means “good,” and I didn’t feel like this album reached that level. It was disappointing.

  • Meh, I’ve been spinning this one for a bit, and I don’t detest this album as much as in the review. You know, it’s Soilwork, they’ve been doing the same trick over and over again, and no one should be waiting for another Steelbath Suicide, because they’re not going to make one. That said, this album was a little above my baseline of expectations; I think overall none of the 20 songs have become all too shamelessly forgettable, which is quite an achievement for a formula-driven band.

    I know that terms like ‘commercial’ and ‘formula’ result in an automatic – 1.0 points, and that’s pretty much what happened here I guess. I mean, no one – including the Soilwork fanboys – were expecting a genius breakthrough from Soilwork, but an entertaining and catchy album. Which is exactly what they delivered.

    I’m just thankful that bands like Soilwork and In Flames (which you guys seem to hate an awful lot) exist to get the yougsters into metal with their catchy yet heavy tunes; it’s exactly what happened to me 10 years ago, and what helps metal staying alive and kicking as a genre.

  • By the way, I want to point out that I think this record is a genuinely interesting album with so much bloat that the record itself is unlistenable. There are some awesome moments here, which would have earned it a high score, but there’s tons of bloat and formula. That’s why I think that FtAG’s score was actually perfectly fair and reasonable. The record itself isn’t that great, even if there are moments.

    As he says: iTunes was created for records like this.

  • ZacP

    Oh Soilwork, you used to be so special :(

  • redrohX

    Wow haha… after Enslaved another favorite album of mine get’s a low score on this site. I can’t really agree with the review. I think this has been their best album since Natural Born Chaos. 20 songs is a lot, but there are quite a lot that seem to stick with me and that takes some effort. Especially since I didn’t like most of their output since NBC. About the slower songs, well it’s only a couple of songs out of 20 and I personally like them, they also add dynamics to the album.

  • Totally disagree about the note…the song I listened brainwashed me… Its a new different Soilwork for better…like In Flames they’re an unpredictable band…

  • L Roy

    “About half the songs on Infinite would make for a fairly slamming (if overproduced) old-school Soilwork album. The other half could be rounded up to form a very melodic record in the vein of their more recent work.”

    So you’re telling me that if this were released as 2 distinct flavours, each half may have garnered a positive review? Cos that’s essentially what you did with Wintersun’s Time 1; we had to wait seven years for that, and we still have to wait for Time 2 to get any of the shred or Japanese melody that Jari had been alluding to for most of those seven years…
    … yet that record got a 3 0_0

    • Not sure that your point is really valid. The Japanese melody and stuff on Time I was definitely there, imo.

      • L Roy

        Perhaps worded poorly… what I’m trying to work out is this (and I’ll freely admit I haven’t heard Infinite yet):

        Wintersun was originally a double album that after being overhyped was split into 2 separate releases for fear of not living up to the hype, not that that changed the songwriting or anything. Part 1 gets a solid but not so spectacular 3.0 on AMG. Furthermore, Wintersun now goes back into the studio to remix Time 2 – a record that otherwise would have been reviewed – so as to avoid the criticism the first half got (ie. we technically got half of an unfinished record).

        Soilwork rolls around with two albums worth of material that comprise (according to Golota) “a fairly slamming old school Soilwork album” and “a very melodic record in the vein of more recent work”. Yet with such a glowing statement about the material present on Infinite, it gets a 2.0 seemingly because you didn’t receive the material on two separate discs marked ‘brutal’ and ‘radio friendly’.

        Doesn’t make sense to me that an ‘unfinished’ record would rate higher just because you didn’t have to listen to it for as long… If the 2 discs on Infinite had been separated ala Opeth’s Deliverance/Damnation, what would Golota have scored each disc?

        • No, the material isn’t brutal on one disc and radiofriendly on the other disc. It’s intertwined. And the problem is that we rate discs, not the “good” part of discs and the “bad” part of discs but the whole fucking album we are given. This record is disappointing because it has good stuff on the one hand and bad stuff on the other.

          Deliverance and Damnation were not the same disc. They were separate albums with separate goals.

          • L Roy

            Seems you may have missed the point re Deliverance/Damnation…

            … however, water under the bridge, good sir. I’ve come back to state that I’ve since bought The Living Infinite and, after a week of listening, I completely endorse this score. It really does just waffle along. One disc could have been a 4, but the rest of the ‘bloat’ would not have reached the lofty heights of 2.5. Although the argument amongst fans will no doubt be which songs would comprise the single disc.

          • Fisting_Andrew_Golota

            Science has proven repeatedly that ALL double albums, ever, have a single album’s worth of good material (at best). If Soilwork had chosen the best songs, cut the fat, and made a single album, I’d probably give that at least a 3.

            And the idea of them doing one raging disc/one poppy disc is actually pretty interesting, given the divide of Soilwork’s fanbase. I’d have been curious to see how that worked out.

  • itsmydamnation

    i just have to post as someone with no emotional attachment to soilwolk. I find all the rage pretty funny, FAG said there was good stuff on the album. Then people get into a rage over the score. After reading this review I think I will check out this album, thats because of what was written not some score. Maybe AMG needs to start giving rating scores as a

    Differential equation thus containing all the different aspects for the total score :)

  • slamming popular bands and releases seems like the thing to do on this site. this album is a return to form for them. nile/soilwork/saxon the list is endless. maybe im not true/kult enough for this site.

    • We call ’em like we see ’em, and let’s be frank, none of us are trve or kvlt.

    • This statement does not make sense. Just because a band is popular, it doesn’t mean it’s good. Personally, I hate flattering reviews, just like I hate complaining, whining fanboys. AMG bashed personal favourites of mine, like RIITIIR, made AOTY the Sabaton record, a decision still baffling me to the utmost, but has my unrelentless respect and support. Guess why? He and his colleagues always review a record for what it is, not for the name on the cover, nor for the glee of the fans. It’s the kind of attitude that deserves only admiration and respect, regardless of personal preferences

  • MetalMartin

    Got the album today. Did a couple of spins and frankly, it’s better than I thought it would be. I like the diversity among songs. No grounds have been broken, but still I’m getting entertained a lot. It deserves a 3.0 in my opinion.

  • John Stewart

    Review misses the mark, if you like Soilwork, this is your jam…

  • Detroit

    Thing is, you know what your getting, you know its going to be poppy, trendy or whatnot, in spots. I like it. Something to jam in the car with my girlfriend, who wont bitch, bc, eyehategod or buzzoven are to misanthrope for her…

  • Junior

    I love A Predators Portrait and Natural Born Chaos. But after that, all Soilwork albums seem to loose the complex and atmospheric sound that made the band so damn good. The Panic Broadcast had some good songs, but still are far from the quality of this two albums. The Living Infinite gave me hope, is this the great return i expected? Sadly, Angry Metal Guy review is right. The answer is NO.

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  • Raven

    sorry fans but i hate this but… i hate all nwoahm related core music…