Soilwork, "Stabbing the Drama"
I think I’m finally beyond the point where a new Soilwork album as bad as their last couple is really going to bum me out. In fact, like many of you, I’ve simply come to expect it from these once great Swedes. Still, I can’t help but wonder if the next disc will be something special, like their early work. And that’s pretty much the only reason why I gave band’s sixth full-length album, Stabbing the Drama, a shot at all.
On this disc, Soilwork push their newer sound ahead, for better or for worse. Speed’s poor clean vocals still abound, and the melodic Swedish death metal approach is still playing second fiddle to the band’s more rhythmic/keyboard focused (and sale friendly) style. The one main difference between this album and the last two, however, is that it’s a little more lively and at times even interesting.
Though I don’t know the details, Soilwork and long-time drummer Henry Ranta parted ways, leaving a hole in the band’s roster that has been filled for this recording by none other than Dirk Verbeuren, blast genius who’s nearly as busy in the scene as Thomas Lindberg. Though you’d be hard-pressed to recognize that the drumming is different on most tracks, the syncopated portions on “One With the Flies,” the subtle yet valuable extra double bass on “Weapon of Vanity” and the unrelenting blasting on “Blind Eye Halo” are definitely a welcome change. Other than these, though, it’s business as usual for the Soils, though I have to admit that a number of tracks feel a little fresher and a little bouncier due to snappy skinbashing.
Of course, there are still those horrible songs that focus way too much on the band’s largest weaknesses. “Nerve,” “Distance” and “Wherever Thorns May Grow” are the best examples, though, I have to say that there are fewer tracks like this on Stabbing the Drama than I expected. Focusing on the positive instead, “Stalemate” is probably their best song since “Follow the Hollow” and the title track and “One With the Flies” finally have the new Soilwork formula mostly right. “Blind Eye Halo” is a ravenous two-and-a-half-minute blast fest unlike anything the band has done in quite a while and “Fate in Motion” is also quite excellent, though unlike anything the group as done or attempted in the past.
Though I’m not going to say Stabbing the Drama is an excellent CD, there are a few great songs on it, and unlike Natural Born Chaos and Figure Number Five, I feel like there’s hope yet for Soilwork. Proceed with caution, but proceed if you’re curious, because the band finally has something to offer us again, even if it shows only a fraction of what they’re capable.