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Soilwork: The Ride Majestic

Melo-death veterans form a layer of cheese

Twenty-one years after forming Soilwork, vocalist Björn ‘Speed’ Strid remains the band’s only constant amid a band membership with more lineup changes than an international friendly.

Not short on ambition, Speed’s response to the 2012 departure of guitarist/songwriter Peter Wichers was The Living Infinite – an utterly bludgeoning double-album melo-death odyssey awash in breakneck tempos, proggy time signatures and melodies so grandiose as to border on genre parody.

This time around, Soilwork have pared down their efforts to a far more manageable single album that, like its predecessor, seismically reconfirms their commitment to the Gothenburg sound.

Coming off of a double album, the obvious risk would be to overcompensate by unnecessarily complicating things, and thankfully they don’t. The Ride Majestic delivers a polished and balanced clutch of melo-death bruisers with much-needed depth on tracks like the downtempo Death In General, the hardcore-infused Enemies In Fidelity, or the majestic, paint-stripping riffage of Shining Lights. Occasionally the material drifts into AOR realms with cheesy atmospherics and overly polished vocals that dilute the potency of the album’s overarching aggression. Still, the siege of megalithic riffs and brawny, shout-out choruses compensate neatly for the occasional inconsistencies. Like pizza, even when it’s not all working, it’s still pretty darn good.