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The Living Infinite

(Nuclear Blast)

Reviewed by : Greg Pratt
Rating : 9.0

Right off the bat, I'm freaked out: I think what Swede melodic metallers SOILWORK needed right now is a short, raging, 30-minute album, and here we have... a double album. Okay. So, here we go. Opener 'Spectrum Of Eternity' delights with some unexpected blasting and grinding after a put-you-to-sleep intro, then some awesome guitar histrionics and those great clean vocals kick in, one of the very, very few vocalists in metal that pull them off well, as he has some personality, some uniqueness to his voice... I always think '80s new wave pop when those soaring choruses kick in, and it works. But track two, 'Memories Confined', is kinda scary because it's a bit of a brick wall, kinda forgettable, something that might work in the context of a ten-song disc, but listening to it and thinking, okay, 18 more to go... it hurts. Thankfully, 'This Momentary Bliss' picks things up again with the guitar mania (what got under these guys' fretboards?) and the insane, insane catchy songwriting. There's a reason that there was a period back in the '00s where I thought these guys were single-handedly redefining the future of metal, and songs like this are why. 'Tongue' shines with its incredible chorus and absurd FREHLEY'S COMET mid-section breakdown, and at this point you start thinking, "Sure, why CAN'T Soilwork do a double album? I could listen to four albums of this stuff right now." But then, man, by 'Vesta' (track seven, disc one) rolls around, you're starting to get worried again about the length of this (even if, again, the chorus makes it all worthwhile). 'The Windswept Mercy' brings back that '80s flavour with clean singing in the verses that work amazingly; seriously man, songs like this just make me shake my head at the world, wondering why these guys are probably just scraping by when they're crafting such good tunes. 'Whispers And Lights' closes off disc one with some strange, funky guitar work behind the clean vocals, lending the whole thing a sleazeball vibe, momentarily, oddly. 'Entering Aeons' is a cool way to start off disc two, all sludgey and instrumental, and while disc two is a lot of same ol', same ol', you get to thinking, yes, a double disc, I can do this, this is mainly just about the great riffing and the great choruses (see 'The Living Infinite II'), the innovative guitar work (the late-second-disc instrumental 'Loyal Shadow'), the excellent, unpredictable melodies (late album highlight 'Parasite Blues'), and forays into the slower side of bpm (weirdo slow-burn closer 'Owls Predict Oracles Stand Guard'). Cool that it's not an overblown concept album, just two albums of short, fast ragers. I'll probably listen to it less because of its length, but this is still incredibly solid stuff from a band that, really, deserves even more than they get.