The discovery of a new band is always exciting. Will it be something you’ve heard countless times? An experience that leaves a bad taste in your mouth? Or is it a treat from which you cannot stop consuming? I wanted to take a trip back in time to reminisce about bands/albums that not only introduced me to heavy music, but kept me coming back for more…
From The Archive: Soilwork – Natural Born Chaos
Around the time I was being introduced to melodic death metal (melo-death for all those hip to the lingo), all the usual suspects were accounted for; At The Gates, Dark Tranquillity, In Flames, Arch Enemy and so on. Now I could easily write up an article for each and every one of these bands, seeing as how they all played a part in my musical journey, but for this weeks installment, I’m going to discuss another well known melodic death metal band by the name of Soilwork and what I believe to be their best album, Natural Born Chaos.
My introduction to Soilwork began back in 2000 when my brother, two of his buddies and myself were making our way upstate to lavish in the festivities that was Hellfest 2000. His friend Dave decided to pop their latest album, The Chainheart Machine into the CD player and from there, that is when it all started. I remember digging the album, but it wasn’t until a year later that I actually purchased my first Soilwork album, their follow up, A Predator’s Portrait. Now I must have played the living hell out of this album, and when news of another album was announced, I eagerly awaited its arrival.
After receiving great commercial success from their last album, A Predator’s Portrait, Soilwork bring the goods right back to the table with Natural Born Chaos. While this time incorporating a slightly more melodic approach to the music, they still retained that classic Soilwork sound heard on earlier albums, so the payoff is a nice blend of heavy and melodic moments that gave each song a fuller feeling. Although Soilwork is nowhere near as harsh as some of the other bands that fall into their respected genre, they excel at what they do, basically creating catchy melodies, foot tapping rhythms and strong vocal transitions, and molding these basic elements into a sound of their own. This also provides a very accessible sound that fans of the genre are likely to gravitate to.
Take the opening track for example, “Follow The Hollow”. As one of the faster paced songs on the album, the aggressive riffs and clean solos from the guitars to the fast delivery of clean to harsh vocals by Bjorn provided that instant hook that will pull any listener in. And that’s exactly what it did for me, as I quickly forgot all about A Predator’s Portrait and found myself listening to Natural Born Chaos on repeat for weeks, hell even months since it came out.
Soilwork – “Follow The Hollow”
The vocal work from Bjorn is still my absolute favorite on this album. His aggressive vocals do wonders when the music is fast and heavy, and manages to switch right to cleans without a moments hesitation to match the overly catchy melodic elements of each song. Both Peter Wichers and Ola Frenning switch roles playing both lead and rhythm guitar providing plenty of killer riffs, licks and solos. The drumming from Henry Ranta is impressive on this album, as his style of drumming suits the music so well. Keyboardist Sven Karlsson wraps his keys around the guitars while giving the music a more melodic feel, and in doing so, adds that extra touch to the overall atmosphere. The only instrument to suffer on this album is the bass, being both low in the mix and overshadowed by everything else that is going on.
Now speaking of mixing/production, Heavy Blog favorite Devin Townsend took control of the boards on this album as well as providing guest vocals on “Black Star Deceiver”. Other than the issues that plagued the bass, Devin does a solid job of bringing most of the instruments to the limelight. I would say his contribution to the album paid off, as Natural Born Chaos is one of Soilwork’s catchiest albums, as well as it being their best album to date (opinion of course).
I still find myself re-visiting this album every now and then, more so than any of their other releases, and I would definitely recommend this album to anyone who is either; just getting into metal or is looking for something less harsh and more accessible to listen too without having their ears bleed. Unfortunately though, I feel Soilwork were at a high point with this album but sadly lost it all with the release of Figure Number Five and continued downhill with every new album that followed after. Not that I dislike any of their newer material, I just find myself not caring anymore when they have a new album coming out. It’s sort of how I feel with Children of Bodom and The Haunted, both great bands gone to rubbish. So if you’ve yet to check out Soilwork, do yourself a favor and check out Natural Born Chaos, and listen to the band at their best.
Soilwork – “Song of the Damned”