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Soilwork have always come off as tag-alongs in the Swedish melodeath scene, coming into the scene far too late to truly claim the level of originality possessed by the Gothenburg trio or any other Swedish band to come about in the early 90s, and generally coming off as dangerously close to pure In Flames emulation when at their best. Considering how drastically similar their latter day sound has tended to be to not only the post-melodeath In Flames sound of "Reroute To Remain" and beyond, but also the prominent American metalcore scene espoused by Trivium, Killswitch Engage and several others, any level of intrigue that the band possesses would only come about through a more refined version of standard practices. Unfortunately, "Sworn To A Great Divide" struggles to impress, coming off more as a tired rehash of an already contrived formula that saw its peak during the 2002-2004 period.
In a nutshell, this album comes off as a slightly more technically intricate answer to "Soundtrack To Your Escape", though with a bit less keyboard gimmickry and a slightly better vocal display. Stylistically, Björn Strid listens like a perfect clone of Anders Friden, but proves to be a bit more competent at harsh screaming and a bit more like an American metalcore whiner when doing purely clean vocals. There are times on more laid back numbers such as "Sick Her River" where amid the annoyingly stagnant guitar lines is a vocal display that wanders dangerously close to Matt Heafy territory. The guitar work during the solo sections tends to be a bit more competent that the notorious American metalcore sound and there is definitely more of an industrial tinge in the mode of recent In Flames that keeps things a bit more varied, but at times it literally sounds like Soilwork borrowed some material from "Ascendany", arguably the most annoying album to come out in 2005.
This album isn't completely bereft of a decent song, but it gets a bit difficult to differentiate the good from the mediocre given that the songwriting formula is extremely limited and formulaic. The closing song "20 More Miles" actually manages to pump out a decent chorus and proves to be among the better mid-tempo numbers to come out in this style of late, and the lone 2 high octane thrashers "The Pittsburg Syndrome" and "As The Sleeper Awakes" manage to throw out a few animated riffs that breath life into a largely tired and shallow collection of mid-tempo chugging. But for the most part, this album seems to try and balance a grooving approach with a mechanized atmospheric backdrop that functions decently for a song or two, but turns into a sleep-inducing borefest when dealing with this album as a whole. Most of the other songs on here literally run together so utterly that it's impossible to keep track of where in the album one actually is at any given moment.
Much like the lion's share of In Flames' mid and late 2000s material, this album is just another drop in an ever growin ocean of redundant, cookie-cutter modern metal that will hopefully fizzle out sooner rather than later given that it is literally approaching zero scarcity territory. People that truly eat up this sort of music would be better served by checking out Soilwork's latest album "The Living Infinity", which does a better job of mixing things up and stays relatively energetic. And those looking for a decent melodic death metal album are encouraged to check out this band's first 2 albums, which definitely avoid a lot of the annoying, modern pitfalls that is currently dominating much of the post-melodeath Gothenburg scene.