Another day and another entry into my ‘Album of the Year 2015’ top 30 countdown. Just when I thought that I might run out of steam in the lead up to Christmas, I press play on the album that’s subject to today’s post and the juices start to immediately flow. When the music is this good, it begs to be written about. As we inch ever closer to the top 10, I feel reinvigorated and ready to tell the world all about the best music to be released in 2015. And what an insanely strong year it has turned out to be too. I’m writing about albums way outside the top 10 this year that in any other year would have easily bagged a top 5-10 slot; yup, it’s been that good.
If you’re new to this blog or this series, don’t worry, links to each of my choices from 30 down to 13 can be found at the bottom of this post. Enjoy!
Love them or loathe them, Soilwork have grown into one of the most important and influential bands within the burgeoning melodic death metal scene. I, of course, love them and have done ever since stumbling across them via ‘Steelbath Suicide’ circa 1998 when I was trying my best to buy up everything that that this particular genre could offer me. Up until this point, I’d have to refer to ‘Natural Born Chaos’ as the Gothenburg quintet’s finest hour and is a record to which I return frequently. I mean ‘Soilworkers Song Of The Damned’, c’mon that’s a killer composition, as are ‘Follow The Hollow’ and ‘Black Star Deceiver’. However, the decision just got harder in 2015 thanks to ‘The Ride Majestic’ which is unquestionably a special album with magic coursing through its veins.
Predecessor ‘The Living Infinite’ was an enormous and ambitious double-disc statement of post Peter Wichers intent. By contrast, ‘The Ride Majestic’ is the more honed and polished follow-up which proves that Soilwork, whatever the line-up and whatever is thrown at them, can go toe-to-toe with the very best within the melodic death metal genre.
The title track is a true statement of intent and a brilliant way to open up the album. Its strength is simply that it features a little bit of just about everything that Soilwork is known and loved for. Vocalist Bjorn ‘Speed’ Strid growls venomously and croons so majestically, flitting between the two so smoothly. And then, surrounding his vocal gymnastics is nothing short of a heavy metal anthem that builds out of a quiet clean guitar melody into an infectious, full-power riff before launching into a catchy, hook-laden chorus that immediately grabs the attention.
Soilwork have always been known for their big, almost pop-like choruses and if I’m honest, this is one of the big attractions for me; Soilwork know how to get their tunes lodged in the heads of their fans that’s for sure. On ‘The Ride Majestic’, it feels like this aspect of the band’s sound has been taken to a whole new level though, as there are catchy melodies and hooks all over the place.
‘Death In General’ benefits from a chorus that’s more immediate than a slap around the face whilst ‘Petrichor By Sulphur’ delights thanks to a pre-chorus and chorus that keeps giving whilst injecting a touch of melodic hard rock into the track. And then there’s ‘Enemies In Fidelity’ which features some of the most spine-tingling vocal work ever committed to disc by Strid. I’m not joking either, trust me.
All that being said, don’t for one minute think that Soilwork have gone soft, because they certainly haven’t. Indeed, their more extreme metal tendencies remain present and correct. Even within the more catchy numbers there are plenty of heavy, sharp riffs as well as blast beats and fast aggressive tempos – everything that the average metalhead will lap up. And then, just for good measure, there are the altogether more feisty and less melodic numbers, including ‘Alight In The Aftermath’ which is a harder, more savage beast than the aforementioned, as is ‘Phantom’ which dials up the black metal influences thanks to the caustic and raw feel to the staccato riffing.
And I cannot leave this album without mentioning the closing track, ‘Father And Son Watching The World Go Down’. Not only does it contain some of the most infectious melodies, it is an epic track that also dabbles with doom metal to great effect. It’s a stunning song.
I remain just a little unsure, even after several month of listening but I’m still mulling over the conundrum of whether ‘The Ride Majestic’ is Soilwork’s best work to date. The fact that I am still considering it must mean that it pushes ‘Natural Born Chaos’ very close. And it’s for this reason that ‘The Ride Majestic’ swaggers with ease and aplomb into my top 30 of 2015.
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 13
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 14
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 15
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 16
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 17
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 18
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 19
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 20
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 21
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 22
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 23
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 24
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 25
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 26
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 27
Album of the Year 2015 – Number 28
Album of the Year 2015 – Number 29
Album of the Year 2015 – Number 30
And from previous years: