Nuclear Blast Records/Universal Music Australia
Reviewed By Simon Crawley
Amidst the Swedish melodic death metal veterans’ ongoing tour to support their 2015 studio album, The Ride Majestic, fans are treated to over an hour’s worth of music consisting of two brand new songs and 13 rarely released tracks. But before anyone gets too excited, Death Resonance only traces as far back as 2005’s Stabbing the Drama with “’Wherever Thorns May Grow” (from the limited box set edition) and “Killed by Ignition” (Japanese bonus track from the album not released outside of Asia). Soilwork were formed ten years earlier with monumental contributions to the genre from albums like The Chainheart Machine (1999) and Natural Born Chaos (2001).
A potential detraction from the impact of this release is the very recent news of drummer Dirk Verbeuren departing the band after twelve years to join Megadeth. Touring skin-man Bastian Thusgaard steps in so long to join Björn “Speed” Strid (vocals), Sylvain Coudret (guitars), David Andersson (guitars), Markus Wibom (bass), and Sven Karlsson (keys).
The two new songs open Death Resonance, with “Helsinki’’ and the title track showcasing all that one’s come to expect from Soilwork: plenty of melody floated amidst hook-laden riffs and a balance between clean and screaming vocals. A third of Death Resonance consists of the five-track EP, Beyond the Infinite, which was released in 2014 exclusive to Asia. This of course has close ties to 2013’s The Living Infinite, the double album that came after founding member, guitarist, and key songwriter Peter Wichers departed the band for the second and final time. “Resisting the Current” has a progressive rock feel to it outside of the chorus with some nifty and creative work on guitar. This song could almost stand on its own, stripped of bridging chorus and vocals. The rapid-firing “Sadistic Lullabye 2010” is the sort of aggressive and energetic song some may wish they heard more of from Soilwork. This is a bonus track from 2010’s The Panic Broadcast which saw the return of Wichers and hosted the debut for new guitarist Sylvain Coudret.
Sworn to a Great Divide (2007) was an interesting release with an emphasis less on groove and more on a frenetic thrash sound. There are two tracks from a limited edition seven-inch and a bonus track from the album in “Sovereign” which definitely reveals that gritty, thrashy tempo mixed with the heavy doses of melodic keys and vocals. Death Resonance ends with two tracks stretching back the furthest, to 2005 when Soilwork broke new ground with Stabbing the Drama. The arrival of drummer Dirk Verbeuren brought a great deal of technicality, but the band morphed its sound into more of a metalcore-orientated one. The dazzle of guitar leads was replaced with heavier-hitting riffs; staggered in tempo and written around breakdowns.
This sort of release is for diehard fans. Limited edition album tracks and others exclusive to certain parts of the globe market themselves to those passionate enough about the band and its journey to date. Soilwork is a massive name in melodic death metal, but Death Resonance won’t exactly spring to mind when looking back on 2016.