The Living Infinite

Written by: MN on 16/07/2013 03:04:43

When it comes to the most recent release of Swedish Soilwork, the discussion has generally revolved around the effort being a double-album, and how it's the first double-album in the melodic death metal genre. So to start of with, let's clear all remaining thoughts of the execution of a double album, seeing as frankly, I'm sick and tired of hearing how a double album may be over-ambitious, or how it may be inconsistent with only a few stand out tracks. I chose to see Soilwork's gargantuan work of 20 tracks to be the fruits of hard work by a band, that is driven and motivated to create music, if not for the fans then at least for themselves. Of course, skepticism reigned before I had let the tones grace my ears, but from the first millisecond of "The Living Infinite", all the initial skepticism rapidly disintegrated into thin air. On a whole, this album is a revelation, a tasteful synthesis of Soilwork's varied and textual metal that picks at different periods of their existence. In a weird way, this is like a greatest hits album of songs not yet released, the variation in this album is astounding, and it represents everything about Soilwork that works, at least for me. Some may grumble at the lack of the unrefined sound that had Soilwork hit the charts in the first place, but I must conclude that "The Living Infinite" is a buffet of different Soilwork expressions, so fans of the earlier sound will also find the material that kindles towards their taste. The success of this albums lies in the variation, both in heaviness, tempo and the use of ambiance.

The first track "Spectrum Of Eternity" starts off sounding a little reminiscent of HBO's Game of Thrones introduction but quickly morphs into a supersonic power-metal driven face-melter with stupidly fast blast beats and falsetto howling from the ever versatile Björn "Speed" Strid. Tempo is reduced slightly in the follow-up song "Memories Confined" which has elements of groove metal. One of the earlier highlights is "This Momentary Bliss" which has some great guitar work soaring above characteristic melodic death metal drumming. It also has a very catchy chorus. Same goes for "Tongue" which is another hard-hitter but with a very melodic disposition, something Soilwork are masters at. The title tracks "The Living Infinite I" and "The Living Infinite II" are both very ambitious pieces that both start off acoustically, eventually allowing the band to take over, the build up in both songs being a sign of good, original song structuring. Part one also contains some of the best lyrics by Soilwork in a long time as "Speed" convincingly growls "I will be one with the abyss, it will bring me to life, Return all the memories, be reborn through the night. A motherly farewell, a tear leaves the eye. I tremble with emotion as I bid goodbye". The radio friendly "The Windswept Mercy" sees Soilwork accommodate their hit-potential skills. Now there is no doubt that this is a strong song because of the very memorable chorus, but it doesn't do much for me. I do however predict that this song will reach same status as "Stabbing The Drama" as a sing-a-long at Soilwork gigs.

It really is difficult picking out any weak songs, seeing as the album is one of the most consistent efforts I have heard in a long time, especially considering it spans almost 85 minutes, but if I were to nitpick, then the instrumental "Loyal Shadow" remains the least memorable track, despite it's progressive tone and melody. Same goes for the thrashy "Rise Above The Sentiment" which again has impressive technicalities but still receives poor marks in comparison to brilliant songs like "Leech", which is astoundingly heavy yet melodic. One of my personal favourites is the finale. "Owls Predict, Oracles Stand Guard" is a lot more eerie, menacing and drone-like than any other track. It is a nice tantalizing finish to a great double album.

It seems as the power-metal "melody reigns" kind of Soilwork characterizes the first 10 tracks, while the more thrashy "old-school" melodic death is more apparent in the second half of the double album. This album should somehow cater to both older and newer fans. I initially thought it would be hard to top albums like "Stabbing The Drama" and "Natural Born Chaos", but it seems that Soilwork has outdone themselves, time will tell if "The Living Infinite" will have the same timelessness as "Stabbing The Drama". Most people will probably find something to complain about, but I find it befitting to commend Soilwork for daring to release a double album, and a successful one at that. In my opinion, Soilwork are prime example of a band that continuously breathe life into the Gothenburg-style melodic death metal, as if it's a living thing that should be allowed to evolve into whatever expression may secure it's continued existence. "The Living Infinite" is 20 tracks with virtually no filler tracks, refreshing diversity and a top-notch production, what more could you ask for?


Download: Tongue, Spectrum of Eternity, This Momentary Bliss
For The Fans Of: In Flames, Killswitch Engage, Scar Symmetry

Release Date 27.02.2013
Nuclear Blast

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