When it was announced that Soilwork would be unleashing a double album as their new studio album, the metal world rejoiced. After all, one disc is already a cause for celebration, but two? The Swedish melodic metal master’s ninth studio album The Living Infinite has been one of the most anticipated releases of 2013 by many, even landing on my own list.
One of the things that gave me some trepidation was the loss of guitarist Peter Wichers, who was replaced by David Andersson, who toured with the band in 2006. Also, after the stellar The Panic Broadcast, this album has a great deal to live up to. So now we ask the hard question: does it or have Soilwork fallen short? Find out below!
The album opens with “Spectrum Of Eternity”, which begins with strings, hinting at the melodic, classical nature of the album. Further on, “Tongue” mixes a driving, fast verse with a near-theatrical (think Broadway) chorus while “Let The First Wave Rise” is a blistering thrash attack.
“Whispers And Lights” closes the first disc by mixing all of the dynamic elements that we love about Soilwork, from softer passages and prog-esque riffs to soaring choruses and crushing drums, courtesy of Dirk Verbeuren.
“Entering Aeons” begins disc two on a more sinister note, with howling winds and dissonant guitar riffs. “Drowning In Silence” has a brilliant chorus and a slamming verse. “Rise Above The Sentiment” is a mid-paced head banger with a fantastic chorus. “Antidotes In Passing” uses acoustics and is one of the slower tracks on the album. Listening to it, I thought that it very could well be a heavier Porcupine Tree song, especially with the keys.
“Owls Predict Oracles Stand Guard”, which closes the second disc, features a plodding, almost marching pace towards the beginning but speeds up in the middle. The ending simply fades out, which is rather disappointing, especially after how The Panic Broadcast ended with “Enter Dog Of Pavlov”, a track that was beyond in-your-face and which ended the album with a punch to the gut. “Owls Predict Oracles Stand Guard” ends The Living Infinite on a soft, gentle note.
The production is, as per usual, extremely solid. Each instrument shines and the mix is watertight. Throughout the album, vocalist Bjorn “Speed” Strid constantly reminds that he is one of the greatest vocalists in metal. From ferocious growls to lofty cleans and some brilliant harmonies, he never disappoints.
At the end of the day, a double album may have been a very ambitious goal. I feel like Soilwork might’ve been better off had they done what Opeth did with Deliverance and Damnation and split The Living Infinite into two distinct albums, one with the faster, heavier songs and one with the more melodic, gentler (relatively, of course) offerings.
The Final Word: While The Living Infinite features some truly fantastic songs, the album as a whole is not as engaging nor as exciting as The Panic Broadcast. Still, Soilwork have released an album that will stand very proudly in their history.