Swedish Melodic Death Metal veterans Soilwork have returned with their 12th studio album Övergivenheten; roughly translated as The Abandonment. There are not many bands currently in circulation who can maintain the level of consistency that Soilwork can. A solid pillar in the Swedish Melodic Death Metal scene, the band have gradually improved with each release since their formation in 1996 but continued to hone the core sound we can hear today.

The band have said “Musically, Övergivenheten is the continuation of the Soilwork legacy of the last years. The approach is to make the album sound as organic as possible. Therefore, among other things, acoustic elements have been incorporated into the songs, which help to make the sound experience as close and genuine as possible. The album is intended to give the feeling of being in the middle of creating the energy and feeling the atmosphere.”

The opening title track starts off as atmospheric as intended. With a melancholy folk-inspired guitar melody on the backdrop of an ethereal choir, it gradually builds momentum creating an evocative feel before launching straight in to blistering, melodic riffs, thunderous drumming and Björn “Speed” Strid‘s instantly recognisable vocal range. Add a chant-worthy chorus in to the mix, this track is a strong opener. ‘Nous Sommes la Guerre‘ is a mid-tempo, emotional centered around the theme of stripping yourself back, rebuilding and reaching out for help in the process. The guitar solo two-thirds of the way in to the track is soaring and intense which provides a stark contrast to subtly softer pace of the track. ‘Electric Again‘ kicks it up a notch or two with fast shredding and blistering blast-beats accompanying Strid’s ferocious screams and contrasting cleans during the chorus. A real stand-out moment during this track is the violin section, briefly softening the intensity. ‘Valleys of Gloam‘ is the latest track to be released from the record and is predominantly clean vocally with consistent, melodic tones and an anthemic pace. ‘Is It In Your Darkness‘ is unexpectantly fast and ferocious with another catchy, chant-worthy chorus complimenting the blast-beats and epic shredding.

Vultures‘ continues in the same vein with Strid’s demonic opening screams and melodic, soaring cleans. Musically, it’s powerful, switching between both frantic shredding and epic melodic riffage which slowly fades out with a piano-led conclusion. The same piano then blends in to ‘Morgongåva/Stormfågel‘ a short instrumental interlude accompanied by a flowing guitar solo. ‘Death, I Hear You Calling‘ is another stomping, mid-tempo march whereas ‘This Godless Universe‘ lulls you in with a soft piano melody before descending in to yet another demonic growl and insane blast-beats. The violin can be heard in the background of the chaos which brings a refreshing tone to the record. ‘Dreams of Nowhere‘ incorporates a catchy beat, alternating between more guttural and clean vocals carried by more melodic shredding.

A second violin-led evocative interlude separates the final third of the record before ‘Golgata‘ begins with a progressively technical guitar shred on the backdrop of further orchestral/synth elements which really creates an electrifying atmosphere before the blast-beats and guttural vocals take over. ‘Harvest Spine‘ is the penultimate track and continues the charge with catchy hooks ending on a soaring guitar solo. The final push comes from a 7 and a half minute marathon that is ‘On The Wings of a Goddess Through Flaming Sheets of Rain;’ a lengthy title with vivid imagery which aptly reflects the intensity of the track bringing the record full circle incorporating every element explored throughout.

Atmospheric, blistering yet melodic and soaring throughout if not a bit lengthy, Soilwork have not lost their creative abilities despite their lengthy tenure and continue to fly from strength to strength.

Rating: 8/10

Released By: Nuclear Blast

Release Date: 19th August 2022

For Fans Of: Scar Symmetry, In Flames, Dark Tranquility

Favourite Tracks: Övergivenheten, Electric Again, Is It In Your Darkness, Death, I Hear You Calling, This Godless Universe, Dreams of Nowhere