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After Soilwork's stylistic change on Natural Born Chaos, the band comes back and offers to the masses Figure Number Five. The song title meaning that this is their fifth full length album. Unfortunately, this melodic death band didn't realize that there was nothing wrong with change, but people will bitch when you go about change with simplicity. This band, based on the quality of this release, seems steadfast in purposely flushing its career and reputation down the toilet, much like fellow Swedes In Flames by jumping on the nu-metal bandwagon. But seeing how nu-metal is dying out, the bandwagon has already left town and it's a little too late to capitalize on such a bad trend like mallcore. But they've done just that here.
The Highlights: Very few to speak of, but I'll start off with the good anyway. The screamed-verse/sung-chorus combination seems to work slightly better than it did on the last album, but only on a couple songs. "Rejection Role" and "Overload" have somewhat enjoyable choruses, very much done in the style of the last album. There is also somewhat of a good guitar solo in "Rejection Role", but not played to the ability of the guitarist. And as a footnote, if you buy the two disc import or digipak, you get some Steelbath Suicide demos on the second disc. There you have it, the album highlights. That's it, because this album takes a major nosedive from this point forward.
The Lowlights: Most of this album, unfortunately. Almost all the good riffing and creative songwriting is now nothing but a memory. "Departure Plan" has a rhythm and guitar elements you would most likely find in today's nu-metal bands like Disturbed, sad to say. The title track's chorus has a vocal perfomance that you would expect to hear coming from Corey Taylor of Slipknot, not one Speed of the once-well-regarded Soilwork. The riffing found in "Light The Torch" and "Cranking The Sirens" are very weak, dumbed-down nu-metal fodder that you would more likely associate with a band like maybe Burning Red-era Machine Head. And are those industrial elements I hear at the beginning of "Downfall 24"? Other bad nu-metal tinged noise can be found in "Strangler", "The Mindmaker", and "Distortion Sleep". More dumbed down vocal performances and guitar work, and simplistic drum work is what you'll find there. So in other words, if you're expecting something in the vein of their last album, yes it's similar in sound to this one in some areas, but it comes in dumbed down form.
Who this album's for: Nu-metal fans who have just discovered In Flames' Reroute To Remain and their latest album, Soundtrack To Your Escape. Or perhaps people picking this up on import or the digipak, wanting the Steelbath Suicide demos on the bonus disc. But the latter people should be forewarned, the main disc is far from a quality album. Definitely not recommended for fans of old-school Gothenburg albums like Slaughter Of The Soul (At The Gates) or The Jester Race (the aforementioned In Flames).
The bottom line: This album shows the direction of the band, and unfortunately, it's a direction that a lot of metalheads aren't pleased with. Fans have gotten on other bands' asses for making moves like this, and unless Soilwork makes a major return for the better on the follow-up, fans (particularly melodeath fans) will be calling for their heads.