The Ride Majestic
The rise and fall and recent resurrection of Soilwork has been one of the most surprising stories in metal. It’s no secret that an increased desire to push melody and alternative metal styles into the band’s sound were a sonic hindrance and resulted in a series of flawed but fine albums. It seemed like Soilwork was doomed to repeat the errors of fellow countrymen In Flames. All that changed with 2013’s excellent (and out of nowhere) The Living Infinite. After the departure of Peter Wichers, one could have been forgiven if he assumed that meant the end of Soilwork; however, The Living Infinite was heavy, like actually, seriously heavy, and chock full of some of the band’s best material to date. Notice I said “to date”. If The Living Infinite was a surprising revelation, the band’s tenth album, The Ride Majestic, is definitely Soilwork’s best album.
What’s most interesting about The Ride Majestic is how it suggests an alternate universe, where Soilwork took the best parts of Natural Born Chaos and expanded upon them. It’s almost as if the middling alt metal years never existed. This latest release acts like an extension of Soilwork’s two best works: Natural Born Chaos and The Living Infinite. Everything about the band’s tenth album is huge. The choruses are gloriously massive yet mostly cheese-free. Hell, all ofThe Ride Majestic is a wonderful showcase for Bjorn Strid, who has developed into arguably the best melodeath vocalist around. His melodies are excellent, yet his harsh vocals have also gotten better with age, which is a rarity.
Notably, the songwriting on The Ride Majestic is a tad more straightforward than in the progressive The Living Infinite, but one listen to the album will assuage any doubts. Soilwork has seemingly, unexpectedly found some witch doctor to bless them, as there is no other way to explain how a band who never reached these heights is able to do so on its tenth release. The Ride Majestic is both extremely familiar yet exciting and fresh. It expands upon the things the band’s two previous best albums (The Living Infinite and Natural Born Chaos) did well, all while sounding heavier and more melodic than anything Soilwork has done.
What’s more: it gets better with each listen. Because of the emphasis on melody (not just vocally), The Ride Majestic is a joy to listen to, full of propulsive drum-work, the band’s best guitar-work to date, and a masterful vocal performance. I say this as a casual listener of Soilwork: don’t sleep on this album. It’s Soilwork’s finest hour. (Nicholas Senior)