The Living Infinite

SoilworkThe Living Infinite
In mainstream rock, double albums are typically associated with contrivance and pretension, and are rarely employed as a vehicle for extreme metal. How appropriate, then, that Soilwork (a group known for straddling the line between both in recent years) should defy convention while remaining steadfast in their adherence to the formula that has endeared them to some and limited their appeal to others. The closest parallel to The Living Infinite is the tasteful balance of melody and shred that made A Predator's Portrait so memorable, although all eras of their later output are referenced. Easily embarrassing their contemporaries, the album is their most cohesive in years, firmly entrenched in the polished melo-death style while allowing enough room for frontman Bjorn Strid to flex his undeniably potent vocal range. His melodies carry the material without detracting from the renewed emphasis on guitar leads and aggression, and the band's ability to retain their distinctiveness despite the departure of founding guitarist and songwriting Peter Wichers is a testament to their focus and clarity. Unfortunately, some of the bottom-end heft of 2010's The Panic Broadcast has been drained from the mix in favour of trebly spiffiness, though this barely detracts from the experience. If you like Soilwork, this is the album you've been waiting over a decade for. (Nuclear Blast)
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