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Soilwork: Stabbing the Drama

Soilwork's seventh release sees the band continuing on with the melodic and accessible death metal sounds that the band introduced on 2001's A Predator's Portrait and really made their mark with on the follow-up Natural Born Chaos. On Stabbing the Drama, the band sounds a bit more aggressive and straightforward, utilizing some of the techniques of American bands like Killswitch Engage or Shadows Fall, rather than rely on the Swedish metal sounds that they have made famous along with bands like In Flames and Dark Tranquility. So while some of the death metal vocals do remain, mixed very effectively with catchy clean vocals, the overall music is faster and relies less on doomy death/black metal passages. The band also effectively uses keyboards once again, courtesy of Sven Karlsson, as a way to set a mood and add a futuristic element, rather than as a lead instrument.

The rampaging "One With the Flies" is a perfect example of this technique, as Karlsson's synths bubble with an almost Techno edge, while the twin guitars of Peter Wichers and Ola Frenning come crashing in with murderous riffs. Other songs like "The Crest Fallen" and the crushing title track offer little subtlety, instead beat you over the head with meaty guitar chords and aggressive vocal shouts. However, there are plenty of metal thumpers here that also have wonderful hooks, like the catchy 'Weapon of Vanity" and the symphonic nu-metal style of "Nerve", complete with tasty pinch-harmonic guitar squeals.

If you dig speedy and brutal thrash, then look no further than "Stalemate", a kick-ass number with lethal death vocals and clean passages during the chorus that complement each other quite nicely. One of the most accessible pieces, and one that might even have life on a medium like MTV's Headbanger's Ball, is the addicting "Observation Slave", a real melodic tune that features great vocals from Bjorn "Speed" Strid, futuristic keyboards, and a killer hook. Fans of Killswitch Engage, or even the more recent In Flames release, will eat this song up. Early fans of the band who yearn for them to return to the complex thrash/death metal of their first two albums will love the pulverizing yet brief "Blind Eye Halo", easily the heaviest song the band has done in years. In sharp contrast, the band gets in some progressive atmosphere with a gothic flavor on the dreamy "Wherever Thorns May Grow", featuring spacey vocals and lots of varied guitar sounds.

In summary, there's a little something for everyone here. Stabbing the Drama is certainly the heaviest album the band has recorded since 1999's The Chainheart Machine, but it's also their most straightforward sounding, with less technical or complex guitar parts in favor of simpler, heavier riffs. Keyboards figure more into the sound, which add a nice gothic/prog vibe to some of the tunes, and there's definitely an equal amount of catchy vocal parts to go along with the maniacal death shouts. If I have one complaint it's that many of the songs are fairly short, and none exceed five minutes. With a headline tour of the US set to kick off, Soilwork seemed poised to make their mark with the release of this one. Let's wish them luck!

Track Listing
1) Stabbing the Drama (4:35)
2) One With the Flies (4:02)
3) Weapon of Vanity (4:04)
4) The Crest Fallen (3:48)
5) Nerve (3:40)
6) Stalemate (3:30)
7) Distance (4:31)
8) Observation Slave (4:11)
9) Fate in Motion (3:32)
10) Blind Eye Halo (2:26)
11) Wherever Thorns May Grow (2:26)

Added: July 29th 2005
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Soilwork Website
Hits: 5025
Language: english

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Soilwork: Stabbing the Drama
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-07-29 06:08:00
My Score:

It seems as though Sweden's own Soilwork have achieved something special with the release of Stabbing The Drama. As the CD begins you are instantly kicked into a unique mix of metal and some heavy duty almost industrial riffs. The vocals are a combined clean and rough mix and this carries across the entire CD. As a whole this works very well and the end result is pretty much a kick you in the teeth metal CD that grows from similar bands like In Flames who pretty much kicked off the Gothenburg sound. The first tune which is also the title of the CD is unstoppable and it seems that I like it more and more on every listen. A true head banger in all senses of the word. Singer Speed mixes his styles and drummer Dirk Verbueren laying down among the smoothest drumming in metal that I have heard in some time. The guitar work of Peter Wichers also plays well along in the rhythm on this CD. I felt as though a strong emphasis was based on the bottom end of music first as there is so much groove on it that you either are raising a fist into the air, or jumping to the pit to bring it on. I was among the lucky ones to listen to this CD and interact with the label and a member of the group. The logic behind this record was to give fans a progression in their already existing work and generally just a heavy record. I feel they succeeded on all counts.

There are a number of standout tracks on the CD in addition to the title piece. Others that stood out for me were "One With The Flies" and then "Nerve". In "Nerve" there is just a section that makes the whole piece. I give this high marks and feel as though Soilwork have succeeded in creating their most mature and signature piece with to date. Stabbing The Drama is a CD that both old and new fans of the band can find enjoyable. Do not pass up one of Nuclear Blast Records finest bands.

Soilwork: Stabbing the Drama
Posted by Duncan Glenday, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-04-21 22:48:38
My Score:

Stabbing the Drama is an interesting blend of rhythmic complexity and harmony and melody. And at the same time it is as aggressive as any metalcore out there.

The music is driven by dual guitars playing heavy riff-based songs, and unlike many of their contemporaries, the band has no fear of breaking into solos and employing keyboards for textures. The vocals are predominantly atonal angst-ridden screams, but they're interlaced with very melodic 2 and 3 part clean vocal harmonies, and far more melody than you'd expect from an outfit with its unusual nu-metal meets thrash meets progressive death sound. Those choruses appear in most songs and are extremely melodic, and offset the heavy sections with a contrast that defines this music. Songs like "Nerve", "Stalemate" and "Observation Slave" showcase this nicely, while the title track pummels home a balls-to-the-world wall of sound. This music will be compared with death metal by many listeners, but there's none of that in here. The chord progressions, the imaginative riffs, the short but wild guitar solos, the overall upbeat attitude and those power-metal like choruses are the polar opposites of death metal. Only the growling qualifies.

The title may be somewhat questionable and the cover art is the dullest thing you've seen in the past decade, but there's no denying the class of this music. It is solid, straightforward, melodic, and ... heavy!

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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