Soilwork, "The Chainheart Machine"
Soilwork?who? They are one of Sweden's better-kept secrets whose debut, Steelbath Suicide, was probably the best album of 1998. The band's ultra-dynamic, aggressive twist on the melodic Swedish sound was flawlessly executed and the result was an album topped only by At the Gates' best efforts. Just one year after the debut, these masters of melody and mayhem are back with their sophomore opus, The Chainheart Machine.
So does the band live up to the reputation they made for themselves with their debut? Hell yes! The Chainheart Machine is on par with the quality of Steelbath Suicide, though very different. Where the debut incorporated instrumental tracks and numerous bridges with soaring solos and slowed drums, The Chainheart Machine focuses more on speed and bludgeoning riffs. The godlike leads and ingenious tempo changes have not been eliminated, just used in moderation, giving the album a very pompous sense of exactness and control.
Tracks like "Machinegun Majesty," "Possessing the Angels" and especially the soulful "Spirits of the Future Sun" contain bridges with the incredible guitar work, while "Millionflame" demonstrates that the band could even play softer, more melodic stuff if so inclined. The title track, "Bulletbeast" and "Generation Speedkill (Nice day for a Public Suicide)" show how the band is branching out in new directions. All three are thick, violent cuts just as diabolical as the names suggest, though each contains melody lines that are "almost beautiful" and solos that demand respect and praise.
So, with all that said, The Chainheart Machine gets my vote for best of 1999, hands down. If you are lucky enough to have Steelbath Suicide, you knew from the first listen that Soilwork was capable of doing it all over again, and they did!
All of them!