Sweden's Soilwork have been regulars on the US tour circuit the last two years. Still riding the release of 2005's Stabbing the Drama, the band have taken off on another venture through North America, and the second stop being The Chance in Poughkeepsie, New York on October 6th. Along with fellow Nuclear Blast labelmates Mnemic, Threat Signal, as well as up and coming metalcore band Darkest Hour, Soilwork and company put on an energetic show in front of a hungry crowd. Sea of Tranquility's Pete Pardo was on hand, and brings this full concert report!
This will be the third time I have seen Soilwork over the last year, as they have crossed the US opening for Fear Factory as well as doing a super bill with Dark Tranquility and Hypocrisy. For this tour, they are one again out on the road with Mnemic, and bringing along Canadian thrash/metalcore upstarts Threat Signal as well as Victory Records act Darkest Hour. Threat Signal went on first in front of a not quite yet filled venue, but thrilled the crowd with songs from their Nuclear Blast Debut Under Reprisal. The band has a solid frontman in Jon Howard, who throws in plenty of growls, screams, and clean vocals for a well rounded delivery, and the fact that the guitar players are not afraid to lay down intricate riffs and blazing solos is a real plus. Comparisons? Well, they have a bit in common with some of the more musical metalcore bands of the US like Killswitch Engage, All That Remains, and Dead to Fall, but if you like some of the Europea acts like Mnemic, Soilwork, Meshuggah, and In Flames, chances are you will like what you hear from this young band. Pick up a copy of Under Reprisal and check 'em out-chances are their next one is going to be a killer.
Mnemic came on next, kind of strange considering they are somewhat of a veteran band now and have been on numerous metal bills here in the US over the last few years. It mattered not though, as the audience were very happy to see them, and gave them an enthusiastic applause when they took the stage. With another new singer in tow, Guillaume Bideau, Mnemic played songs from their two previous releases, and even tossed out a teaser, "Shape Of The Formless", from their upcoming CD Passenger. Following their tour with Meshuggah last year, it's obvious that the Swedish heavywieghts have rubbed off on this Danish band, as their music has taken on a more technical and heavy style. While their set was roughly 45 minutes, they performed some of the fans favorites from The Audio Injected Soul, and new vocalist Bideau really worked hard to interact with the crowd, seemingly loving his first visit to the US.
There were a lot of younger folks in attendance at this show, and no doubt that the presence of Darkest Hour was the reason. This Victory Records band plays an upbeat form of metalcore that is heavy on the hardcore element with the "happy" feeling that comes along with emo. To put it midly, the kids loved it. The lead singer of this band never stopped telling the crowd how much they were loving being there, and the guitar players jumped and marched around like a couple of 13 year olds. Granted, they had the chops and were loud as hell, but somehow they just didn't fit on this bill, and their music in the end was very cliched and all too familiar. But again, the kids loved them...
Soilwork came on like the conquering heroes they are, as this Swedish ensemble have survived the loss of guitarist Peter Wichers earlier this year, who left to pursue other ventures, found a replacement, and are ready to rock. Vocalist Bjord "Speed"Strid (who is himself a busy man these days with projects like Terror 2000 and Coldseed) stated early on that they band were sick of playing the same set list for the last few years, and that they were going to mix it up this time around and play some older stuff. Well, many in the crowd seemed to like that idea, although you could tell that newer fans who are only familiar with Stabbing the Drama and Natural Born Chaos were probably thinking "oh no, I'm not going to hear any songs I know". Well, for someone who has seen the band a few times in recent memory, this decision was a good thing. Sure, you got some of the hottest tracks from the recent album, like "Distance", "Nerve", "Stalemate", "One With the Flies", and the blistering title track (no "Blind Eye Halo" on this night), but only the classic "Follow the Hollow" from Natural Born Chaos was represented. Instead we got older gems like "Light the Torch" from Figure Number Five, and a few strong cuts from Predators Portrait like "Neurotica Rampage", "Bastard Chain", plus a few others. Speed's vocals were in fine form, and the band was as tight as ever, even without the precense of Wichers. Most in the crowd appreciated the varied set list, as it was good to hear some of the older, less played gems dusted off for this tour.
All in all it was a great night of metal in front of a few hundred people. Hopefully Soilwork will now take some time off, start working on a new album, and come back with some fresh new material next time around. We will be waiting.
Soilwork Set List
Wings Of Domain
One With The Flies
Spirits of the Future Sun
Light The Torch
Song of the Damned
As We Speak
Stabbing the Drama
Follow the Hollow
Ken Pierce sent in this review of Soilwork's show at New York City's BB Kings:
There seems to be no stop in the touring when it comes to the bands I was planning to see this evening and this is never a bad thing when you consider that we are talking about Mnemic and the mighty Soilwork from Sweden. The groups made some incredible touring memories for the Metal fans of New York over the past year as not only did they perform a killer headlining set with Dark Tranquillity and Hypocrisy but also they returned later in the year to support Industrial Metal veterans Fear Factory. Joining them on tour would be Darkest Hour and Threat Signal. The club would be shaking to its foundation with all this Metal to enjoy that's for sure. Here are some of my thoughts on to the way everything transpired.
Threat Signal: Sadly, I totally missed them outright and that bummed me out as I had been hearing some good things about this Nuclear Blast Records artist. They are among the rising Metalcore bands and have a new release on the label entitled "Under Reprisal". Friends who saw them at some other shows had commented on their standout performance and that they stand best against bands like All That Remains and the others who choose to blend a more technical side to the thrashing.
Mnemic: Tonight would be my fourth time seeing Mnemic in concert, and oddly, this would be the third different singer I have seen in the band. When Soilwork had them on the bill, they had Michael, who was pretty much on the melodic side vocally. The bands style reflected this aspect musically. When Michael left, Tony Jelencovich replaced him, and the band immediately jumped on tour with the one and only Meshuggah for a very short US tour. As a vocalist, Jelencovich was brutal and his vocals dark, angry and aggressive. He was the perfect onstage catalyst to the guitar and bass work of Rune, Obeast and Murcia. However, Tony would not remain in the lineup and it came down to the vocalist of Scarve (Guillame Bideau) to take his place. Bideau seems to be a great choice for the group, as the sound has remained heavy and now instead of one vocal extreme against the other, there is a blending of the styles and it seems to work. Music from their "Audio Injected Soul" release was performed as well as a track from their forthcoming album "Passenger". Mnemic on the stage is a great experience, as they all seem to love being there and feed off the energy of their fans. The always seem to be well received by whatever headliners crowd they face and the pit often begins as a result to their unique brand of Industrial Metal. Guilliame did a great job and proved very early in the set that he knew how to generate fan response, he also seemed to love being able to play in the US for the very first time. Mnemic, for those that are unaware, means Mainly Neurotic Energy Modifying Instant Creation.
Darkest Hour: I did not know what to expect when Darkest Hour hit the stage but when they did, I felt in fear of my safety because not only was the crowd wild, but the band themselves were all over the place. Running from the backstage to the front and flipping the instruments around. It was a rare instance where I felt that I might be safer out in the crowd for my few moments of photography, but I braved it and raised the horns up as they made sure to give everyone a great time. The group is signed to Victory records, and I can only say that it seems likely that a major picks them up with this kind of vibe hitting the audience. While they are also in the Metalcore genre for the most part, this group really focuses on the Hardcore aspect of music and shows just how well that side works with Heavy Metal music. Watch out for these guys, especially if you are up close.
Soilwork: So now we are here at the headlining moment and Soilwork would hit the stage like a group of returning royalty. This was to be expected as they are veterans in the scene and have long been an inspiration to groups from their area and beyond. Some changes in the lineup had happened not too recently with guitarist Peter Wichers departing from the band. For the touring they needed to do they would use the talents of Andreas Holma of Hypocrisy and Daniel Antonssen to press forward. Daniel would be the guitarist for the NYC show and apparently handling this US leg entirely. The band has not yet found a permanent replacement for Wichers and to my knowledge no decision has been made on who would continue the role in the group. Lead singer Bjorn "Speed" Strid is great onstage and had mentioned in some interviews that it was time to changeup the set list that they would play. This much was a pleasant surprise because while I loved the music I had seen done over the past few times, one does not want a consistent repeat when the band has so much other great material to offer you. As a result, there would be the presentation of material that we have not seen done in some time and it was clear the audience enjoyed the changeup. The band was as intense as ever and the touring guitar work done by Antonssen was spot on, he hit all the leads as far as I am concerned. I think this was easy on the band to sound this tight thanks to the efforts of drummer Dirk Verbeuren who is literally a machine on the drums. Complex syncopation along with deft power makes him a very exciting drummer to have holding this together.
If I could comment on one thing that depressed me tonight it would be the overall attendance that we would see in the venue. So many bands have come through these gates at B.B. King Blues Club and to find the place at just over half capacity for so many killer bands was a little bit of a disappointment. Granted this was a Sunday night performance and Halloween activities had just transpired early the previous week so perhaps that was part of it or perhaps people felt they had seen the roster all too much in too short a time. I am looking forward to the next Soilwork recording, which I am hoping becomes their focus going forward as well as the announcement of a new member in the band on guitar. Above it all, Soilwork is a band that continually delivers and I was glad I was there.