Soilwork — The Ride Majestic
One of modern metal's proficient bands returns with their tenth studio album, Soilwork's The Ride Majestic. After changing up bass players, the group — which has changed significantly in line-up over the years — presents their offering in a stand-out year for metal in general. Given the band's tenure, and the aforementioned line-up changes, there are always concerns with every new release; even with a consistency like Soilwork have demonstrated throughout their career, every new record is a roll of the dice to some extent. With a reputation from quality song-writing and production, The Ride Majestic brings with it very high expectations.
Right away, any concerns about a dip in quality can be safely dismissed. Without intending any slight to Peter Wichers et al, the guitar duo of David Andersson and Sylvain Coudret have put together some amazing material — every bit as good as the band's past work. Whatever fire Devin Townsend sparked in Soilwork, back when he worked with them on Natural Born Chaos, we're still bearing the fruits of that labour today. That record was when Soilwork truly hit their stride, perfecting the mix of Bjorn's vicious screams and multi-tracked clean vocals interwined with catchy, hard-grooving metal riffery.
Ever since that career-defining record, Soilwork have consistently produced high quality albums. It's not much of an exaggeration to say that a mediocre Soilwork song is better than most bands' best work; this group knows their niche and wields an impressive arsenal of technical and song-writing chops. As with all the band's past albums, The Ride Majestic is chock-full of catchy riffs and tightly crafted songs. In spite of having established a clear 'formula' to what makes a Soilwork track, the band manages to keep things fresh with each new release, and this one is no exception.
There isn't a single dud on The Ride Majestic, but there are several stand-out tracks that rank among the very best the band has ever written. "The Ride Majestic (Aspire Angelic)" features an absolutely beautiful ear-worm chorus — and accompanying riff — while other tracks, like "Death In General," and "Father And Son, Watching The World Go Down" likewise feature the most memorable riffs of the record. "Enemies In Fidelity" features a slick outro, with drummer Dirk Verburen casually dropping a restrained blast-beat fade-out. Between his contributions to Soilwork since 2006, and his stunning performances on The Project Hate MCMXCIX's last 2 albums, Dirk Verburen can easily be counted among the most elite drummers in the metal scene today.
Production, as usual, is first-rate on The Ride Majestic; Soilwork sound heavier than a bag of hammers, but work enough melody into the mix that even the most abrasive moments — the furious, screaming verses — have a catchy feel to them. The the breadth of the band's talent is shown on tracks like "The Phantom," which features unmistakably classic black metal riffing and song structures, but still brings the whole endeavour back to familiar territory for the cleanly sung bridge verses. The other tracks on the album borrow from blues, thrash and traditional metal elements, mixing a variety of influences into an incredibly varied — but distinctly metal — creation.
I've never been disappointed with a Soilwork album, and I didn't expect to start with The Ride Majestic. That said, the quality of this record blew me away. Regression to the mean is a real thing, but it appears — given the group has existed since 1998 — that the baseline for Soilwork is still well above your average metal outfit. The Ride Majestic still managed to surprise me, despite the fact that I have rather lofty expectations of anything coming from this band. This is easily one of the best metal records of the year; there is not a single wasted moment on The Ride Majestic — the maturity and coherence to the song-writing cannot be understated.
Tenured melodic metallers show no signs of slowing down, and drop another album packed with quality material. The Ride Majestic is another dose of the familiar Soilwork style, but doesn't feel like a band just going through the motions. If you were already a fan, then you know what to expect and should not be disappointed; for newcomers, this is as good a starting point as any.
Release date: August 28th, 2015
Record label: Nuclear Blast
Bjorn "Speed" Strid — vocals
Sylvain Coudret — lead guitar
David Andersson — lead guitar
Markus Wibom — bass guitar
Dirk Verburen — drums
Sven Karlsson — keyboards
- The Ride Majestic
- Alight In The Aftermath
- Death In General
- Enemies In Fidelity
- Petrichor By Sulfur
- The Phantom
- The Ride Majestic (Aspire Angelic)
- Whirl Of Pain
- All Along Echoing Paths
- Shining Lights
- Father And Son, Watching The World Go Down
Published: December 10, 2015.
Edited: February 7th, 2018.