Soilwork are one of those bands I’ve always enjoyed, but have never seen up close and personal. So when I got the chance to watch them live at Camden’s Underworld this past Wednesday – a small and fairly intimate venue for such an established band – there was only one correct answer…
The Norwegian extreme metal of Openers Keep of Kalessin – another long term outfit in their own right – did a good job or warming up the crowd. In the past few releases, the band has taken on a more melodic approach, distancing from their darker origins. The result was an interesting mix, with songs heavily reliant on blast-beats interspersed with brooding doom-like harmonies.
However, if KoK lit the fire, Soilwork stoked the flames into a frenzy.
Firstly, Björn Strid’s vocal range is amazing. From guttural roars to soaring melodies, he covers it all with ease. And for the guy who’s been there since the band’s inception in ’95, he doesn’t miss a beat. Occasionally he “apologises” as they take a quick breather between blistering tracks, along the lines of “not being as young as they used to be”, but then he’s right back in the zone, playing up to the heaving sardine-packed crowd. Meanwhile, Sylvain Coudret and David Andersson engage in regular guitar battles, providing the symphonic melody against Dirk Verbeuren’s furious drums. Throw Ola Flink’s Bass and Sven Karlsson’s Keyboards into the mix and the results are consistently electric with energy.
With a discography spanning almost 2 decades, Soilwork have a pretty broad crowd. Knowingly, they cover all bases, with a set including tracks off this year’s “The Living Infinite” and 2010’s “The Panic Broadcast“, to 05’s “Stabbing The Drama“, 03’s “Figure Number Five” and even 98’s “Steelbath Suicide“. The crowd approves emphatically… and Strid & Co. look like they wouldn’t wish to be anywhere else right now.
Soilwork will be 20 years young by 2015 (member changes aside). If Wednesday’s gig has shown anything, there’s plenty more years still to come with this current outfit… And we’re all looking forward to it.