What’s especially brilliant about Verkligheten, Soilwork’s 11th release, is how the Swedish act nails what nearly every long-running heavy band tries and fails to do. There’s that point when a heavy act wants to make it big and write an arena metal album, though it’s tough to not sacrifice what made you great to begin with.
Make no mistake: this record is Soilwork gone soft-ish, slowing things down a bit and veering closer to hard rock than death metal at times. Indeed, some of the members’ time in retro rock act The Night Flight Orchestra clearly rubbed off here, as Verkligheten certainly recalls a host of classic 70s and 80s rock acts with its emphasis on classic melody and a more deliberate songwriting approach. The number of mid-tempo, ballad-like tracks has increased since the band’s fantastic The Ride Majestic, and the number of blastbeat-infested numbers has slimmed down considerably.
However, every bit of Verkligheten bleeds Soilwork through and through. This is melodic, punchy, and not at all neutered; the album feels like a continuation of the band’s last two records, filtered through a more melancholic and measured lens.
“When The Universe Spoke” and “Needles and Kin” are some of the band’s best songs ever, both utilizing Soilwork’s signature blastbeat and melodeath combo to great effect. Each song contains a riff, a drum pattern, or a hook that lodges its way deep into your cranium and stays there. This record relies on melody for effectiveness, and Soilwork have never been better in that department than on Verkligheten. Plus, even the ballads will win you over after long enough; “Full Moon Shoals” and “You Aquiver” are killer tunes with immensely hummable hooks.
While this probably makes it seem like the band have gone all Bring Me The Horizon, the main reason Verkligheten works is because it’s inescapably Soilwork, just with some notable and impressive tweaks. Much of the record does feel like a marriage between classic hard rock and melodeath, but if anyone could pull of “Dad Metal,” it would be these Swedes.