After 2007’s ill-famed ‘Sworn To A Great Divide’, the fans of Soilwork have been expecting the band’s new release with mixed feelings. Created in absence of creative powerplayer, guitarist Peter Wichers, ‘Sworn To A Great Divide’ had received very poor feedback from both fans and media and as Wichers later returned to reclaim his old position in Soilwork, the new release ‘The Panic Broadcast’ bore a big chunk of expectations on it’s shoulders.
Whereas band’s hardcore fans had years of knowledge shaping their expectations, I myself approached the new album from a different starting point. Though familiar in a basic level, Soilwork had previously remained rather unfamiliar group for this reviewer and although towards this day I’ve managed to delve properly into the swedes’ impressive back catalogue, “The Panic Broadcast” marked my first true introduction to the band. Thus unburdened by past highs and lows, the exploration of “The Panic Broadcast” took off from a clean slate.
Thanks to a throughout exposure to the record in my good friend’s car during our mad summery adventures and additional spins of my own copy at home, it didn’t take long to see that I had come across with one of this year’s best metal releases. Mixing aggression with melody, band’s death metallic roots with a lighter elements and delivering the songs with utmost skill – “The Panic Broadcast” hacks it’s way home in a formidable fashion. Brutality meets brilliance, sharpness tranquility and soaring melodies entwine with vicious hammering and rough moshpit pandemonium. A bag of many tricks indeed.
Most of the songs are constructed with a well-balanced mixture of aggression and melodies. Likewise, singer Björn ‘Speed’ Strid’s vocals vary between hellish roars and clean emotional parts. The balance works very well, most of the melodies are huge as they rise from the riffaging guitar walls and earthquake drum assaults.
Special salute to the songwriting department, as the songs stay away from the pits of blandness and instead carve new, unexpected paths for themselves as they carry onwards. Acoustic parts of ‘Let This River Flow’, brilliantly layered vocal/guitar melodies on ‘Epitome’ or the more progressive structure of ‘Enter Dog of Pavlov’ are just some examples of the diversity one finds on the album. There’s a lot to explore.
The headbanging stuff is present as well – and thankfully so as the brutal aggression remains a key part of Soilwork. Spearheaded by ‘Two Lives Worth Of Reckoning’ the furious moments are another thing to keep the balance of ‘The Panic Broadcast’ intact. Whereas ‘Two Lives…’ delivers it’s sharpest jab with it’s excellent melodic chorus, ‘King Of The Treshold’ paints things to a more vicious color as a neck-snapping metal monster and ‘Deliverance Is Mine’ relies on it’s rabble-rousing chorus shouts. On the other hand the opening track ‘Late For The Kill, Early For The Slaughter’ sinks too deep into the moshpit mud and pretty much suffocates under it’s own weight, lacking all the hooks and catches to prevent it from becoming the most forgettable song on the album.
With a very stylish package artwork to top the servings, ‘The Panic Broadcast’ combines Soilwork’s strengths into another fine album. Enough heaviness to cement it to the metal soil and enough melodies to let it reach atmospheric heights. Excellent package!
1. Late For The Kill, Early For The Slaughter
2. Two Lives Worth Of Reckoning
3. The Thrill
4. Deliverance Is Mine
5. Night Comes Clean
6. King Of The Threshold
7. Let This River Flow
9. The Akuma Afterglow
10. Enter Dog Of Pavlov
11. Sweet Demise (bonus track)