With At The Gates, Dark Tranquillity and Arch Enemy still releasing sterling albums, plus the upcoming box office bout between In Flames and The Halo Effect, Swedish melodic death metal has found itself at its most high profile for years. Naturally, you can’t approach the subgenre without mentioning Soilwork, who have been on their own run of evolution and form, as evidenced by their last full-length, 2019’s Verkligheten, and the excellent 2020 EP, A Whisp Of The Atlantic. As such, album 12 sees the Helsingborg collective brimming with confidence to push themselves while producing instantaneous songs in the process.
The opening title track is typical of the band’s recent output, with instantly relatable riffs leading into a chorus where Björn ‘Speed’ Strid shows off his finely tuned vocals. Even the more rugged Electric Again and Is It In Your Darkness can’t help but give into the palatable synths and clean vocals, with a surprisingly effective violin lead on the former. Given the enormous satisfaction Speed gets from The Night Flight Orchestra’s AOR worship, it’s not surprising to see the lines between the two bands continue to blur with great effect on the likes of Valleys Of Gloam.
It’s this melding of the two projects that really takes off halfway through proceedings when Death, I Hear You Calling and Dreams Of Nowhere rock up with unashamed swagger and mid-tempo stomp, while This Godless Universe and Golgata take flight off a wall of drums, synths, strings and shimmer. Finally, On The Wings Of A Goddess / Through Flaming Sheets Of Rain wraps most of Övergivenheten’s ideas into seven and a half minutes of duelling guitars, diverse textures and Speed’s soaring vocals, capping off a victorious album in style. Seemingly written off in their prime, Soilwork’s resurgence is one of the genre’s finest tales of triumph.