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The Living Infinite

Nuclear Blast (2013)
Rating: 9/10

After a confusing couple of albums in Sworn To A Great Divide (2007) and The Panic Broadcast (2010), Soilwork return with The Living Infinite. Suffering a second loss of guitarist Peter Wichers, the band sounds like they have had enough of indecision and are ready to take Soilwork into their own, apparently very capable, hands. The album is a double-disc dose of, huge, melodic, aggressive, pure Swedish metal.

What everyone wonders most is, of course, can the guitarists handle the task? Sworn To A Great Divide couldn’t rise to the occasion, it’s true. This time around though, everyone plays like their career depends on it.

Take for instance, the massive melodies, yet total heaviness of ‘This Momentary Bliss’. It sounds huge and just sounds like pure Soilwork; grunting vocals coupled with soaring melodic choruses and tremendously intricate guitar work that could likely keep your attention all on their own.

‘Spectrum Of Eternity’ and ‘Long Live The Misanthrope’ are similar in sound, offering that inspiring edge Soilwork have always been good at without sacrificing the aggression that makes it metal music.

The band aren’t afraid to get down and dirty either though. ‘Let The First Wave Rise’ is a fast-paced headbanger that reminds me of the band’s early work with its dark, ugly aggressiveness. ‘Parasite Blues’ isn’t super-fast paced but the bottom end is heavy as hell and it’s neo-industrial guitar work and filtered vocal make for an interesting clank.

‘Owls Predict, Oracles Stand Guard’ features doomy guitars and rhythms with a dissonant vocal that makes for a great combination. A lot more creative than your average Soilwork song, this is one of the moments where the band really steps up and tries to offer something new. Some fans will predictably “hate it” but I love hearing the band trying to go to new places.

‘The Living Infinite I’ and ‘The Living Infinite II’ (one on each disc), are the highlights among highlights here though. ‘I’ kicks off with an acoustic intro before launching into a Gothenburg sound with a rock ’n’ roll guitar twist. It reminds me a great deal of the band’s early work sans all the macho bravado of the times. ‘II’ has a bigger melodic edge to it but is an obvious continuation, something I didn’t expect. It would have been interesting to hear this as a ten-minute epic instead of split up. The guitar solo alone in ‘II’ will be enough to win you over, even if you don’t like all the melody.

I have to admit that while I love Soilwork, not much they have done in recent years compares to Natural Born Chaos (2002) and The Chainheart Machine (2000). There was just something really special about that time and how it was one of the moments where everything sounded so new and fresh. The Living Infinite has that same spark. It just feels like the band is firing on all cylinders, like they can’t be stopped.

This will certainly restore your faith in the band if you found yourself losing it. If you have never heard Soilwork before, this is a great place to start, especially with two discs worth of material.

Mark Fisher

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