Stabbing The Drama is Soilwork‘s third release since 2001’s breakthrough opus A Predator’s Portrait. Armed with 11 fresh stonking metal numbers, the Swedes’ resolve to fuse ferocious riffage with sweet soaring melodies is as strong as ever.
The opener and title track blasts in with a swirl of staccato beats and ringing chords as the signature Soilwork groove is once again torn into with much haste. Shredding verses courtesy of Peter Wichers’ guitar are juxtaposed in perfect unison with some arena-sized drums which set the stage for a decidedly upbeat, if a tad repetitive album.
There is no doubt that Soilwork have found their niche along with compatriots In Flames as heavy metallers with maximum sing-along-ability. With much more street cred than the aural tragedy that is The Rasmus, the hotly -tipped quintet still manage to create tunes bursting with dark melodies, memorable choruses and occasionally succeed in some phenomenal moments of musical prowess too.
That said, Soilwork certainly still have their fair share of “haters”. When it comes to metal, it would appear far too many fans are stuck on one side of dark-and-brutal or light-and-fluffy dividing line, with anyone who braves the no man’s land betwixt getting riddled with bullets from both sides. “They sold out when they started singing melodies,” or, “they scream too much, there’s no tune!” are both the type of comments that Soilwork have been on the receiving end of, and if they say you can’t please all of the people all of the time, most of those who are rarely happy seem more than content to wag their digits at groups like this.
I say fair play to ’em. Ok, so there’s always the occasional wince when the most vicious of verses melts into a soppy chorus, but the Soilwork boys do manage to keep such occurrences to a minimum, and still manage to come up smelling of roses. This is highlighted on One With The Flies, which breaks in with dark Fear Factory-esque aggression, builds to a an operatic bridge and then provides a chorus that must have cost Bjorn Stird a blood vessel. With arena sized drums and even a brilliant, but oh too brief solo, this is Soilwork in their element.
Weapons Of Vanity may be a little to deep for its own good but is a sure-fire hit, sending some bouncing thrash straight to your heart. Some well-layered vocal tracks fuse the mellow and more abrasive sides of Strid’s efforts dazzlingly. Nerve reads like a sped-up version of the previous number, while Stalemate sees us visiting Dark Tranquillity territory as Karlsson’s keys layer this tune up most agreeably.
If you crave revolutionary innovation, stick to Mastodon, but if you just wanna nod your head to some well-executed entertainment, Stabbing The Drama should be February’s tipple. This isn’t the future of heavy music (I hope!) but it is a pretty good summary of where melodic metal is at at the start of 2005.