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Album Reviews

Soilwork: Sworn to a Great Divide

By Azeem Banatwalla | December 19, 2007

Split Magazine: SoilworkSo, it’s been two years since Soilwork’s last album ‘Stabbing the Drama’ was released, and it’s a measure of the band’s worldwide popularity to see that more than 5000 copies of ‘Sworn to a Great Divide’ were sold within a week of its release, in just the U.S.

Two years is a long time to wait for any ardent metal fan to wait for an album, and even though Soilwork aren’t usually at the top of my list, I was quite eager to get my hands on it. Soilwork’s seventh studio album, ‘Sworn to a Great Divide’ essentially picks up where ‘Stabbing the Drama’ left off, incorporating, unfortunately, the one major flaw that has plagued their music since 2003: the repetitive song structure. Almost every track since ‘Figure Number Five’ seems to be composed of the following: Verse, clean chorus, another verse, another clean chorus, bridge, solo, final chorus; in that order.

Don’t get me wrong though, the music is still great, and it would seem, from their apparent fan following and fast-selling records, they’re sticking to what works (i.e. what the people want), which well, doesn’t always end very nicely.

The first two tracks, “Sworn to a Great Divide” and “Exile” get the album started fairly well, with a solid, heavy, typically Soilwork-ish riff, and the vocals are top notch as well. My only complaint would be that the chorus in almost every song has clean vocals, a far cry from the good old ‘Steelbath Suicide’ days.

Tracks three to eight are average, really, and with the exception of “The Pittsburgh Syndrome”, would make any Soilwork fan go, “I’ve heard this before”.

It’s after track eight (“As the Sleeper Awakes”) that the album takes a wonderfully welcome turn and there are three really good tracks that go against the regular song flow in “Sick Heart River”, “Silent Bullet”, and my personal favourite on the album, “20 Miles”. There is also a bonus track titled “Martyr” in some editions of the album which is done very well, incorporating the very rare use of keyboards, with a really catchy riff that reminded me, to an extent, of Dark Tranquillity.

Overall, it’s yet another solid album by one of the more popular Swedish bands around that long time fans and newbies alike will enjoy, and if the final tracks are a sign of things to come and a step in a new direction for Soilwork, I’m really looking forward to seeing what they’re capable of. Hopefully they won’t prolong their next album too much, and hopefully their popularity won’t make them sell-out like their Swedish compatriots, In Flames.

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