Album Review: Soilwork – Övergivenheten

Album Review: Soilwork - Övergivenheten
Reviewed by Paul Hutchings

Written and recorded over three sessions between January and December 2021, the 12th album by Swedish melodeth legends Soilwork continues very much in the same vein as previous recent releases. The sound is organic and natural, the playing fluid and energetic. The overall result, magnificent.

‘Övergivenheten’ is translated as ‘The Abandonment’, which is the theme that runs through the album. It draws on the past few years, the personal issues within the band and the wider themes of simply feeling alone. Featuring 14 songs and a running time of 65 minutes, it is a majestic and at times breath taking piece of work. Soilwork write and perform music that stands as an exemplar of how to combine elements of extreme with the best components of melodic and hard rock. The result is an album that surely will feature in those pesky subjective end of year listings.

A strong opening instantly cements the interest. The title track and following song ‘Nous Sommes La Guerre’ capture the attention immediately, both full of thick riffs, the phenomenal vocals of Björn ‘Speed’ Strid, the duelling guitar work of David Andersson and Sylvain Coudret as well as the lush, layered synths of Sven Karlsson. The latter comes with ample atmosphere and emotion. ‘Electric Again’ provides the instant example of how Soilwork can incorporate heavier elements into their song writing. It’s a ferocious and fiery brute that takes few prisoners, but also incorporates the melodies for which this band is renowned. Anthemic, soaring high into the stratosphere, it’s a track that stirs emotions with its blend of styles, tempo, and balance.

Album Review: Soilwork – Övergivenheten

‘Övergivenheten’ is front loaded with potential classics. ‘Valleys of Gloam,’ ‘Is It in Your Darkness’ and ‘Vultures’ are all beautifully crafted, sonically beautiful and provide the listener with a massively enjoyable first half of the record. Bridging this with the second part is the gentle instrumental ‘Morgongåva / Stormfågel‘which provides the perfect interlude and pause to catch the breath.

If you are familiar with Soilwork, then you’ll know that they can create anthems at will. Spend five minutes with ‘Death, I hear you Calling’ and you’ll be jumping with arms aloft. This is going to be an instant live favourite, with its groove laden stomp, singalong chorus and overall epic feel. In comparison, the crushing beats of ‘This Godless Universe’ allow Drummer Bastian Thusgaard to demonstrate his power with a thunderous display that rages below Strid’s huge vocals. In similar fashion, ‘Golgota’ allows the band to flex their metal muscles with a thunderous cacophony, with Strid switching between his death roars and sublime cleans with ease.

With most tracks averaging around the four/five-minute mark, there must also be room for the band to be a bit more expansive. They do that early on with ‘Nous Sommes La Guerre’ and bring it again on the expansive finale of ‘On the Wings of a Goddess/Through Flaming Sheets of Rain’.

‘Övergivenheten’ is an album that I’ve had on repeat for the past few weeks. It’s simply that good. The songs are memorable, the musicianship top drawer and the overall experience fantastic. Regardless of your genre, this is well worth your time.

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