|There are few artists that need no introduction, but Sweden's Soilwork are definitely one of them. Hailing from the town of Helsingborg, their reputation as one of the country's finest exports is well-deserved. Few bands have melded the aggressiveness of metal with genuinely catchy choruses to such impressive results. Before you start name-dropping the latest metalcore sensation, let's just get one thing straight: Soilwork did it first, and better! One listen to the band's latest, The Panic Broadcast, makes it obvious that they're still miles ahead of the competition.
Soilwork - which is not a reference to cultivation, but to working their way up from the ground - have established a solid reputation alongside fellow countrymen prodigies like In Flames, Meshuggah, Arch Enemy, Dark Tranquillity and The Haunted. Surfacing in 1997 with a five-track demo, In Dreams We Fall Into The Eternal Lake, Soilwork commenced with four individuals, expanding members prior to their first full-length release. Steelbath Suicide, the band's official debut, saw the light of day in 1998 and immediately caused a major positive stir in the metal underground. Undergoing a small line-up change, the band once again entered Studio Fredman and created The Chainheart Machine, one of the year 2000's most intense and remarkable metal releases. Exploring more dynamic structures, the album showcased evident musical growth and provided the necessary elements to commence sculpting the Soilwork sound.
In 2001, A Predator's Portrait hit the metal scene with ferocity, capitalizing on the songwriting strengths and diverse musicianship of the band and taking fans and critics by surprise. Continuing to smash metal boundaries through melodic chaos and high-speed delivery, Soilwork's expanded sound set them apart from the rest of the Swedish contingent, opening their music to a wider prospective audience. Highlights for the band that year included their performance at Wacken Open Air in front of more than 20,000 fans, as well as their first-ever American appearance at the Milwaukee Metalfest.
Hitting a potent blend of aggression and melody, Soilwork stepped it up like pros for the critically acclaimed Natural Born Chaos. Released in 2002 and produced by Strapping Young Lad mastermind Devin Townsend (Stuck Mojo, Lamb Of God), Soilwork reached a whole new level on their referential fourth outing. The album showcased a staggering performance from frontman Björn "Speed" Strid, ranging from the thrashy vocals he established on previous works to the harmonic arrays of choral stability, and displaying enough talent, ability, dexterity and confidence to take Soilwork's music into virtually any direction. This highly successful release landed the band's first American tour supporting Hypocrisy, Killswitch Engage and Scar Culture. Never slowing down, Soilwork birthed Figure Number Five in the following year. Yet another step ahead for the Swedes, this potent piece of energetic metal led to two more massive American tours alongside acts such as Chimaira, In Flames, As I Lay Dying and Bleeding Through, as well as highly successful tours in Europe, Japan and Australia.
With new drummer Dirk Verbeuren on board, 2005 saw the release of the band's sixth album Stabbing The Drama. Followed by some aggressive US touring with the likes of Fear Factory, Darkest Hour, Strapping Young Lad, Dark Tranquillity, Hypocrisy, Mnemic, Darkane, Threat Signal and highlighted by a spot on Ozzfest's second stage alongside headliners Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden on mainstage, the record quickly became their most successful so far. In December of 2005, in the midst of all this road warrior madness, longtime guitarist and founding member Peter Wichers left to pursue a career in producing. But nothing could stop Soilwork's bulldozing momentum as they soldiered on with the help of several fill-in guitarists.
After some rigorous auditioning, a suitable replacement was found in the form of Dimension Zero/Pathos guitarist Daniel Antonsson. With a strong line-up in place once again, Soilwork released their seventh album Sworn To A Great Divide in the Fall of 2007. For the first time since Natural Born Chaos, Björn "Speed" Strid collaborated again with musical genius Devin Townsend, resulting in some of his most diverse vocals ever and ultimately some of the band's strongest material. Massive touring ensued: after supporting Lamb of God and Killswitch Engage on a full-blown US arena tour, Soilwork conquered Eastern territories such as Russia, Taiwan and Malaysia, followed by headlining stints in Japan and Australia as well as a plethora of Summer festivals, culminating in a direct support slot for Metallica in Madrid in front of 50,000 crazed fans.
After a short but well-deserved break, the news came that former guitar player Peter Wichers was ready to join the forces again. Soilwork welcomed him back with open arms, reinforcing their strength and hunger in the process. Dirk Verbeuren's bandmate in Scarve, guitarist Sylvain Coudret, completed the new line-up which instantly embarked on a European tour and an 8 week North American marathon, before starting work on what was to become their ultimate masterpiece.
Set for release in July 2010, The Panic Broadcast showcases a newly energized Soilwork, steering clear of all conventions and, as Speed eloquently put it, fully embracing the "bigger than life" ethos. Everything on this eighth album is indeed bigger, better and stronger, from the massive real-life production courtesy of Peter Wichers and Jens Bogren, to the catchy yet adventurous songwriting and the stellar musical performance of what is without a doubt the band's strongest line-up to date, including longtime members Ola Flink on bass and Sven Karlsson on keys. A living proof that Soilwork have matured without losing their edge, The Panic Broadcast will most certainly take the world by storm!
Soilwork are a masterful incarnation, taking modern metal to the next level and thus generating a whole new genre of prolific music. Even the legendary metal god Rob Halford (Judas Priest) named them a band to watch for in the new millennium! With eight albums behind them, Soilwork have managed to create a distinctive sound in metal, effectively building a dedicated fanbase with each successive release and displaying the accomplishments of a rigorous and persistent devotion. They prove to be the living embodiment that a propitious act can turn out to modernize the face of music.