Soilwork have been around for a surprisingly long time, and my first encounter with them was via the sublime Stabbing The Drama back in 2005. This was far from their first release (that had been a decade earlier), and they’ve continued to grow and release original material since. They must be one of the founding fathers of what we now call “melodeath”, alongside the likes of Dark Tranquillity and Hypocrisy.
Now I could be wrong, but I don’t think Soilwork have released an EP since back in those early days, so it’s a bit of a surprise to see only five tracks coming out of Sweden this time around. Having said that, the opening salvo and title track weighs in at a whopping sixteen-and-a-half minutes in length which certainly eclipses anything else they’ve ever done. It’s a hell of an experiment and a track I’ve ended up treating as background music, but it’s… interesting. Imagine the band had decided to collaborate with Pink Floyd and you have an idea of where it’s coming from. Long, meandering, airy sequences hit up against heavier, chunkier ones; widdly guitar solos give way to trumpet-backed funk(!). It’s certainly different.
Alongside this behemoth of a lead track are four more of a more standard length, and of a more familiar style. “Feverish” has some lovely fast moments, especially once the song has gained momentum, but still manages to end on a more eerie note – this time it’s violins rather than trumpets that get added to the mix. “Desperado” is the pit-inducer on this EP, though, just a lovely wall of metallic noise which crashes over you from beginning to end.
“Death Diviner” will appeal to the Sabbath crowd with a nice, pounding rhythm and and great vocals coasting over the top of it. It also builds to a hell of a rousing chorus which sent shivers down my spine, and overall it’s my pick of the songs on here with “Desperado” snapping violently at its heels.
“The Nothingness and The Devil” (check it out below) straddles the ground covered by both previous songs by mixing the heavier stuff with the more melodic in a fairly even split, and rounds things off well.
There’s no denying that the band’s sound has changed a lot over twenty years or so. They’re not exactly unrecognisable compared to The Chainheart Machine, but we’re obviously at two very distant points in a long journey. A Whisp of the Atlantic is a great addition to an impressive catalogue of output and shows a level of maturity that was very much hinted at all those years ago. The title track is perhaps a little long and self-indulgent, but the four other songs would be welcome on any full length release.
A Whisp of the Atlantic is out on December 4th