A Majestic Ride.
Soilwork are a fantastic metal band with a fantastic singer, guitarist, bassist and drummer; and in this album they all showed off what they can do. Yes, The Living Infinite was an incredible album, but I think The Ride Majestic is perhaps an even better one.
Bjorn “Speed” Strid really is good in this record; by which, I mean, like, really good. His clean vocals are the strongest they’ve ever been, and his growling, roaring, screaming vocals – whatever you want to call them – are probably the most powerful they’ve ever been. But this is definitely helped by the mixing in the record, which is also probably the best it’s ever been: there’s a clear, balanced and very powerful sound to the album, with the bass higher in the mix than in previous albums and the singing also higher — so it sounds fantastic and really heavy.
Furthermore, the drumming is fantastic in the record. It’s mad. And that’s brilliant for a thrashy, melodic death metal album.
However, just the sound can’t make a good album: it needs some good songs. Of which it has many! The album starts emphatically with the fast paced, mad The Ride Majestic; but the songs following it are somehow much better. Alight in the Aftermath is a fantastically heavy track, in which Strid really does his work. He varies his vocals from mad screaming to majestic (see what I did there?) singing and mixes the two more effectively than ever before in a memorable song. But if you think that song’s good, oh, you haven’t heard the best the album has to offer.
Now, if you’ve listened to Soilwork before, you’ll know they do some pretty damn catchy choruses. Before this record, they hadn’t done their best — well, perhaps with Sworn to a Great Divide they did, but this album has some choruses that are just as good. Death in General does, possibly, the best of the lot on the album; in an immensely powerful song, which stands out from the rest with its slower tempo and especially prominent clean singing. The song gradually gets faster as it goes on, with the drumming constantly speeding up, but everything else staying as it was at the start – other than in some screaming sections. This gradual rise of pace, and heaviness means for an incredible climax towards the end, and a uniquely progressive song; and one with an incredibly powerful riff and guitar/bass work. And, oh yeah, the chorus is amazing. Amazing. And that’s what you want from Soilwork – and in modern metal in general.
But I thought I’d heard the best the album had to offer when I listened to Death in General. No, of course I hadn’t, it was only track 3! Track 4 is the best the album has to offer: Enemies in Fidelity. It’s classic Soilwork at it’s very, very best. It’s got an immensely fast pace, and without Strid at the microphone it wouldn’t be anything on as good. There are masterful changes in tempo, but always mad drumming carrying it along; sometimes being fantastically loud and heavy, and sometimes being slower and more quiet – but still a bit crazy: but always brilliant. Of couse, it has another amazing chorus, and Strid’s vocals are absolutely fantastic; and one thing that puts it above other songs is the stunning guitar work. It’s a joy to listen to, and it really is Soilwork‘s masterpiece.
If you were thinking I was going to say “Oh, then it goes rubbish”, you’re wrong. The next song is arguably just as good as the two before it: Petrichor By Sulphur. It’s got more amazing guitar work, and variation in pace, and power, and vocals. Then there’s The Ride Majestic (Aspire Angelic), which is the next particularly good song: it’s got another fantastic chorus. Nonetheless, it’s not as good as Whirl of Pain, which is up there with the best Soilwork have ever done – along with the aforementioned Enemies in Fidelity. The thing is, every song’s got it all. Every single song on the album is amazing. And I don’t think I can pick fault at it.
Every song is unique, and a joy to listen to; each being satisfyingly heavy and with immensely skillful instrumentals and majestic singing (yep, I did it again). Every song has brilliant tone, some being dark pieces of melodic death metal, some being joyous masterpieces of mad thrash metal with choruses beyond compare. It’s an album that’s stunningly high quality throughout, with expertly crafted songs and masterful changes in pace and tone throughout, and it’s a record with a brilliant sound quality also — and one that’s filled to the brim with variety and innovation. I love this album, and it’s got to be Soilwork‘s best record to date – and one of my favourite metal albums at least.
PS. Another particularly good song is Father and Son, Watching the World Go Down – the perfect ending song — which is better than Owls Predict, Oracles Stand Guard. And, man, oh man, oh man, there’s keyboard, and it’s amazing.
Listening to this truly is a majestic ride.
So I give it: 97/100.