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Soilwork
Figure Number Five
April 2003
Released: 2003, Nuclear Blast Records
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: EvilG

Sweden’s Soilwork are back with their follow-up to the critically acclaimed album NATURAL BORN CHAOS from 2002. In my opinion, Soilwork have yet to topple their groundbreaking album A PREDATOR'S PORTRAIT that I rated as a 5/5 here in Metal Rules back in 2001. To me, FIGURE NUMBER FIVE is not as good as STEELBATH SUICIDE or THE CHAINHEART MACHINE and is a slight step down from NATURAL BORN CHAOS. If you are a die-hard fan of all of Soilwork's material, and you really, really liked the direction they took on NATURAL BORN CHAOS then this is another step in that direction. Unfortunately that direction is a step down and away from the greatness of A PREDATOR'S PORTRAIT. One complaint I have here is that the band is using less in the way of lead guitar. All the guitars are again down-tuned treading close to some territory in places that reminded me of the last letdown by In Flames. However, the mixture of melody and aggression is still there, especially in the vocal department with Bjorn Strid stretching his vocals to new heights.



FIGURE NUMBER FIVE opens with "Rejection Role" which could of easily come from the previous album. The track “Overload” starts like it could be a song by Pain with the Atari sounding keyboard beeping away here and there in the background. Although "Figure Number Five" is the albums title track, it is my least favorite. It has its moments but overall is a tad noisy for my tastes. "Strangler" features a nice chorus as usual. Even the less interesting of the Soilwork songs often has a catchy chorus. "Light The Torch" begins with a weird robotic effect on the vocals, thank Satan that is turned off quickly. "Departure Plan" has a techno-ish drum pattern at the beginning that is horrible but at least it's short lived. When the song begins it's almost gothic sounding for a bit reminding me a tiny bit of Moonspell. This is as melodic or as mellow I've heard Soilwork making for what I'd call a ballad on Soilwork terms. Despite what might be a turn off to some, I thoroughly liked the song and it's a new step for the band. As long as they keep the aggression, I welcome a couple mellower songs like this on their future albums. Even though this album was not recorded with the helping hands of Devin Townsend, his influence on the vocals can still be heard in certain places such as on the chorus to "Brickwalker". One thing is clear to me regarding the album as a whole - the album needs more shredding! Some songs don't even have what I'd call a solo. Considering how fucking awesome Ola Frenning and Peter Wichers are as soloists, they should of ripped it up more!!



Soilwork continues to be at the head of the pack of the Gothenburg melodic death metal bands. I know I was hoping for A PREDATOR'S PORTRAIT Part II, and I probably always will. As long as the band stays metal and don’t go for any of those “nu” sounds, I’ll count myself a fan. FIGURE NUMBER FIVE comes out later this month on April 21st in Europe and May 6th in North America.
Track Listing

1. Rejection Role
2. Overload
3. Figure Number Five
4. Strangler
5. Light The Torch
6. Departure Plan
7. Cranking The Sirens
8. Brickwalker
9. The Mindmaker
10. Distortion Sleep
11. Downfall24

Lineup

Ola Frenning - Lead & Rhythm Guitars
Peter Wichers - Lead & Rhythm Guitars
Sven Karlsson - Keyboards
Ola Flink - Bass Guitar
Bjorn Strid - vocals
Henry Ranta – Drums


Next review: » Soilwork - Figure Number Five
Previous review: » Soilwork - A Predator`s Portrait

Soilwork
Figure Number Five
April 2003
Released: 2003, Nuclear Blast
Rating: 1.0/5
Reviewer: Night of the Realm

Soilwork’s change of direction on FIGURE NUMBER FIVE should be no surprise to anyone who has been following the band’s progression (regression?) over the past few years. With their fifth studio album in six years, Soilwork has cast the tattered and ragged shroud of metal they once wore to the side, plunging full-on into the realms of mallcore and commercial, radio-friendly extreme rock. This comes neither as a shock, nor as any great loss, as NATURAL BORN CHAOS was a shitty album, straddling the gap of mallcore and metal, and A PREDATOR’S PORTRAIT set the slide into motion before that.



What does FIGURE NUMBER FIVE have for the listener? Not a whole hell of a lot. The riffs, once the defining characteristic of Soilwork are hidden behind silly electronic beats and effects, and those that do pop through are sloppy and uninspired. Speed Strid has abandoned trying to sing or even growl, now content merely to scream inanely over the half-assed guitars. The overall sound of the album is club-friendly, predictable, and derivative. Listen to the pop influences on tracks like “Distortion Sleep,” “Light the Torch,” and “Brickwalker.” In addition, there are the “We wish we were the band Disturbed” tracks such as “The Strangler,” and the title track (is that rapping I hear on this track?). The opener, “Rejection Role,” is really the only track on the album I enjoy. It is representative of the structure (if not the quality) of the rest of the album, with it’s “where did the riff go?” whispered parts, silly, bad techno electronics, and a melodic, though simplistic and viral chorus. Even this song quickly wanes towards the last minute or two with shitty whiny clean passages. If you’re looking for an exceptionally rancid and sickly song, then I dare you to make it through the torture of “Departure Plan.” I thought there were laws against cruel and unusual punishment.



When the album is over, I find that I cannot recall one memorable riff, hook, solo, or chorus. The excessive downtuned, lazy riffs, robotic and scream-core vocals, and mallcorish keyboard effects and sampling really put me off of any other tracks that may have been salvagable. As bad as NATURAL BORN CHAOS was, Soilwork have really bottomed out with FNF. Relatively speaking, FIGURE NUMBER FIVE is so abyssmally awful that it makes NBC look like fucking Dark Angel’s DARKNESS DESCENDS. With any luck, this blatant attempt at commercial radio will explode in Soilwork’s face and they will abandon any future endeavors. After all, “Speed” Strid doesn’t have half the poster-boy appeal as Alexi Laihlo.
Track Listing

01.Rejection Role
02.Overload
03.Figure Number Five
04.Strangler
05.Light the Torch
06.Departure Plan
07.Cranking the Sirens
08.Brickwalker
09.The Mindmaker
10.Distortion Sleep
11.Downfall 24 (Bonus)

Lineup

Bjorn "Speed" Strid - Vocals
Peter Wichers - Guitars
Ola Frenning - Guitars
Henry Ranta - Drums
Sven Karlsson - Keyboards
Ola Fink - Bass


Next review: » Soilwork - Natural Born Chaos
Previous review: » Soilwork - A Predator`s Portrait





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