After nearly twenty years of being pioneers in the melodic death metal scene, Soilwork are still galloping swiftly with great strength in 2015. The Ride Majestic is a similar beast to 2013’s The Living Infinite, but touts a more streamlined form, taking many of the ideas that made The Living Infinite a modern staple in the scene and trimming the fat away to leave a lean machine of pure fury.
It’s strange to think, with only one original member left in the band (Björn “Speed” Strid on vocals), that Soilwork are regrouping once again into the influential group they became with Steelbath Suicide way back in 1998. In fact, The Ride Majestic is undoubtedly their most cohesive work in years—perhaps since Natural Born Chaos. There was a distinct lull in quality after their 2003 effort, a great deal of turmoil within the band’s ranks being the cause. The Living Infinite came as something special after so much tumult, but suffered from being too long with many standout tracks bogged down by far less exciting songs as unnecessary buffers. “Double Album Syndrome” isn’t necessarily a standard musical medical term applied to long-playing records, but has been noted to exist by enthusiasts for years. Albums can be mortally lengthy, detracting from the punch they’re meant to deliver. The Living Infinite, in all its goodness, did get dragged down as a whole by tracks that were merely “okay” when every track on the album should have been on the same level as “This Momentary Bliss,” “Parasite Blues,” “Tongue,” and other notable tracks.
The Ride Majestic, in contrast to its most recent predecessor, is an incredibly tight effort at nearly half the length and more standout tracks. In fact, every song is considerable single material—a feat very few albums have achieved in our listening lifetimes. Nearly every track, save for “Enemies in Fidelity” or “Whirl of Pain,” comes at you like a desperate, starved beast, their frenzied eyes accompanied by bared teeth and a maniacal tongue lolling out of their hungry mouth. The Ride Majestic goes straight for the throat from beginning to end. Even the slower-paced songs still have persuasive hooks that keep you coming back for more helpings. The violent riffings, the soaring melodies—both vocal and instrumental—all culminating into these perfect ebbs and crescendos of wonderful melodic death metal.
There is literally not a bad song on this album. The title track opens up the album in a furious manner, only to lead into the equally strong “Alight in the Aftermath.” “Death in General” is filled with grooves that make your head bob and your eyes shut just a little tighter as the main melodies hit home. Things slow down ever so slightly with “Enemies in Fidelity” only to pick right back up with “Petrichor by Sulphur” and its flashy harmonized lead riffs by guitarists Andersson and Coudret. The staccato riffings of “The Phantom” are a perfect lead-in to the reprise of the title track in “The Ride Majestic (Aspire Angelic)” only for things to slow down once more with “Whirl of Pain.” Things pick back up with “All Along Echoing Paths” in a similar fashion to “The Phantom” and continue with the well-known strength through “Shining Lights” and the absolutely monumental “Father And Son, Watching the World Go Down.”
There’s something special about the album’s closer, featuring guest vocals from Sonic Syndicate‘s Nathan James Biggs. Perhaps it’s the melodies or the arrangements. Maybe the clever vocal trade-offs between Speed and Biggs. Perhaps all these pieces working together, but this song manages to rise above several of the others on the album to some truly exceptional heights.
Soilwork was one of those bands that faltered in a big way just when their career was reaching its peak. Part of you hoped they might stay down after showing they couldn’t keep the pace going, but longtime fans quietly wished they would rise up from ground stronger than ever. The Living Infinite showed all of us that it wasn’t possible to keep Soilwork down for long, despite the unrest among the band for years. The Ride Majestic, however, exemplifies that all obstacles can be overcome, going so far as to make magnificent and glorious strides to be admired by all.
Soilwork’s The Ride Majestic gets…