Reviewed: April 2003
Released: 2003, Nuclear Blast Records
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.
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