Soilwork – The Chainheart Machine

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Reviewed: February 2000
Released: 2000, Century Media
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Nathan Robinson

After Soilwork’s debut album “Steel Bath Suicide”, I waited in great anticipation for this album. Well, I am totally blown away! On “The Chainheart Machine” Soilwork have found their place among the Swedish death metal elite. You may recall the many similarities between these guys and Arch Enemy on the debut album. That likeness has been slightly pushed aside as the band has gone for a more brutal attack! The music is still melodic as hell, with loads of brilliant, memorable, and soulful lead guitar work. But the approach to song structures and overall style has shifted towards speed. I would say this album is a cross between Arch Enemy and The Haunted, but with plenty of elements that define Soilwork’s own style. These guys bust out some very innovative riffs! And with such precision and speed! Sometimes I cannot help but wonder how in the hell these guys thought of such music. The guitar tandem that is Peter Wichers and Ola Frenning is fabulous, showcasing some great talent and technical ability. Ola replaces former shredder Ludvig Svartz and has contributed his writing skills to several of the tracks. And drummer Jimmy Persson has been replaced by Henry Ranta, who does nothing short of a superb job. His playing is also rather technical at times, which adds a little cayenne pepper to the music, especially with his tasteful use of cymbals. Blast beats are limited to the title track, which is the opening song, and definitely the highlight of the album, at least for me. The lightning harmony guitars and keyboards during these blasts are just so damn awesome! I only wish this band did more blasts. Vocalist Bjorn Strid, although quite similar to former At The Gates vocalist Tomas Lindberg, has outdone himself this time as he screams his ass off better than ever! Even though his style may not be original, he out-screams most of the other Swedish deathmeisters. Keyboards are present throughout the album and really add to the atmosphere. They are sort of laid back…maybe even buried in the mix a little. But their effect on the music is very positive and it is hard to imagine the band without them. The only thing missing from this album is an instrumental. The two instrumentals on “Steel Bath Suicide” made me want to run down my street screaming “metaaaaaaaaaalllllll!!!!” So I was hoping for the same on the new album. Alas, none are present. But that is no reason not to run down the street screaming anyway!

If you love aggressive, brutal, melodic, and technical death metal, then get this CD! It looks as though Century Media has picked up the band and will be releasing “The Chainheart Machine” shortly. It’s about time someone has finally taken notice of this killer band!

And for you diehards, the Japanese version contains a bonus track. It is an original Soilwork recording called “Shadow Child”. Once again, experimentation has been left to the song that goes unheard. You may recall that on Soilwork’s cover of Deep Purple’s “Burn”, found on the Japanese version of “Steel Bath Suicide”, the band employed blast beats and female vocals. Both of these elements were not administered on the rest of that album. But they worked very well in that song. This time, we get some clean vocals out of Bjorn in the chorus of “Shadow Child”. Once again Soilwork’s experimentation has proved successful, and it would not surprise me if clean vocals make their way onto the next album.


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