Masterful. That’s the one word description I’d use to describe the latest release from Sweden’s Soilwork. I get the vibe that these guys just don’t struggle musically, they get up like everyone else, but when they put on their pants one leg at a time they drop musical masterpieces.
SNL references aside the CD is a beautiful yet mournful journey laced with dark and solemn twists and turns, but still manages to let enough hope through you don’t feel drained…in fact you’ll find yourself feeling more pumped for life. Bjorn’s mother passed between this record and 2013’s “The Living Infinite” and you can feel him exploring the gamut of emotions that grief will bring.
Bjorn Strid (vocals), Sven Karlsson (keyboards), Dirk Verbeuren (drums), Sylvain Coudret (guitars), David Andersson (guitars), and newcomer Markus Wibon (bass) all deserve medals for their work on The Ride Majestic.
“The Ride Majestic”, the first single and song on the CD, is a brilliant opening track. It starts with a nice melodic guitar riff layered with beautiful sounds and then seamlessly kicks in to the full band hitting their stride – melodic metal with masterful playing. These guys cram riff after riff and change after change into this song but it never feels meandering, it’s just hook after hook. When Bjorn sings “when they call for me saying, “Son you’re heartless” I won’t believe it, the ride majestic” he just elevates the song to another beautiful level. In my opinion these guys are one of the best metal bands in the world.
“Alight in the Aftermath” starts heavy hitting, breaks to a more straight forward melodic part, and then drops a hook bomb at the 2:17 mark that left me texting a few friends, “YOU HAVE TO LISTEN TO THIS”. Two songs in and I’m sold. The lead work is incredible – great melody and the solos propel the songs forward. “Death in General” opens with two guitars playfully going back and forth until they bleed into some chug riffs with the lead guitar delivering hooks, then morphs into a clean passage with Bjorn delivering a heartfelt verse, telling a story with his lyrics and emotional delivery. As a perfect contrast the band launches into a hard hitting section building to the chorus and the song really comes alive. “Death in General” feels like a living, breathing beast. It has amazing dynamics throughout, phenomenal guitar playing, and just perfect vocals. It’s a pity that Bjorn had to suffer loss, but we’re gifted with amazing album as a result.
“Enemies in Fidelity” and “Petrichor by Sulphur” continue the hooks, great riffing and song writing, and just inspiring vocals. I think Bjorn is easily one of the best metal vocalists in the world. “The Phantom” was one of the first songs that I fell in love with on the 2nd pass of the CD – the thrash intro is just perfect and has that haunting melody reminiscent of The Walking Dead’s theme song.
“The Ride Majestic (Aspire Angelic)”, and “Whirl of Pain” put most other bands to shame just by existing. The songs weave in and out of melodic passages and heavy hitting metallic sections, accented by hook after hook. If bands are looking to step up their game without going pop – look no further than this CD. “All Along Echoing Paths” hits out of the gate with a blistering drum performance by Dirk Verbeuren and then shifts so seamlessly into a beautiful passage you barely have time to realize how they got to this point. Epic.
The Ride Majestic closes with one of the most emotional roller coaster songs – “Father and Son, Watching the World Go Down”. The song starts out with the haunting sounds of children, a crushed up piano, and then kicks into gear with riffing that almost sounds happy, which is almost misleading as at the 1:09 mark Bjorn and company open up another “write home to mom” moment, building to the saddest but happiest chorus at 1:39. Melody wise the chorus is uplifting but the lyrics give it a sad depth you hope to never feel yourself, “Into the night as our hands are entwined, Never let me go, We owned our time but here we drown, In tears we’ve collected, Slowly we rose for a glance at the skip, Never let go, Father and song, watching the world go down”. They paint a magnificent and colorful picture of the world ending and two people holding hands, smiling, but crying. You get the feeling that they’re happy how they spent their time but wished for more.
I bet many a tears were shed by band members as they worked on and listened to this. Bjorn wears his heart on his sleeve as the band delivers yet another inspired and magic CD. This is a must own for any fan of metal.