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Shoddy SOILWORKmanship - 40%

doomknocker, December 5th, 2008

It's a depressing thing to watch a band you admire more than your fair share go down in flames. And while I'm not against bands changing their sound, there's a difference between "musical evolution" and "musical apathy", wherein the sound degenerates to a hollow shell of a band's former brilliance, either catering to generally two-dimensional masses or just shrugging and releasing such an album without even caring. I'm not sure what compelled SOILWORK to devolve so horridly, but I can honestly say I don't like it. This new metalcore kick of theirs is leaving a sour taste in my mouth, and it all started here...

Almost all notions or the clear production, visceral heaviness, twin guitar rollercoaster rides and percussive chaos are tossed aside like so much shedded snake skin, leaving only the skin and bones of what SOILWORK are all about. Honestly, this is a more bitter pill to swallow than "Figure Number Five", the first step on their slow descent into monotony. Creative Swedish death metal riffing, flowing guitar dynamics and nihilistic screams are replaced with simple harmonic leads, chugga-chugga stop-start guitar work, non-existent bass and hardcore shouts belting prototypical hard/metalcore internal struggle/societal issues tripe that mean nothing in the real world (doing something to fix things is one thing, bitching about things only makes it worse). The production also isn't as clear as it could be and comes off as blurry and more artificial than it should be, almost as cardboard as the song-writing. Then again, for every work of dullness like "One with the Flies", "Stabbing the Drama" and most of "The Crestfallen", there are still some tasty melodies and songwriting with the likes of "Nerve", "Weapon of Vanity" and "Distance". Now if only the entire album were like the good tracks without all the clutter...

So at the end of the day this album is better suited for SOILWORK completists and metalcore fans. Other than that, we're better off with every album up to "Figure...".