SOILWORK Stabbing The Drama Nuclear Blast (2005)
It was less that a year ago that I did an interview with the guys from Soilwork, and that was while they were on tour with the Danish outfit Mnemic, for the promotion of the album "Figure Number Five". During that time, a very influential relationship was created between the two bands, the importance of which is going to be explained later in this review. After having a long and very friendly chat with three of the members of the band, I realised one thing: Soilwork is not the kind of band that will easily decide to 'play it safe'. Is that a good thing? I really don't know, but it seems to be working for them.
When "Figure Number Five" was released, many of the band's "traditional" fans were less than pleased by all the new elements that the band chose to add to their music. It was true that Soilwork have followed a somehow "softer" approach to things, moving further away from the classic Metal formulas that they used in albums like "A Predator's Portrait" and "The Chainheart Machine", and that was quite a gamble - but one that did pay off. "Figure Number Five" became officially the band's best selling album, and led them to a second phase in their career.
I will not pretend to be surprised by the fact that Soilwork are just about to release their sixth studio album. The hard-working Swedes are well known for their “over-productiveness”, which led them to the studio right after the above-mentioned tour was over. The result is entitled "Stabbing the Drama", and is bound to bring more confusion to the ranks of the band's loyal fanbase.
I was a bit lost after I listened to this album for the very first time. The quite characteristic guitar melodies and Speed's vocal lines, which are the trademark of the band, are still there, but there was something this time in the way the eleven compositions of the album are constructed, that sounded much different from anything that the Swedish quartet has ever done in the past. That's when I realised that last year's tour with Mnemic was far more influential than I ever expected. It is quite natural for bands to borrow elements from each other, as long as these elements manage to blend with the band's style and personality. Now, as far as "Stabbing the Drama" is concerned, there are times when this formula is working really well, and others where the result left me totally indifferent.
Now that I have listened to this promo more times than I can remember, I can say that I find this new approach to music really interesting, but I definitely do not consider this to be the band's best release as Nuclear Blast likes to believe. There are songs like "Stabbing the Drama" and "The Crestfallen" that sound really fresh and exciting, and also the duet "Stalemate" and "Blind Eye Halo", the aggressiveness of which will bring back memories from the late 90's when albums like "Steelbath Suicide" and "The Chainheart Machine" were released, that will reward you for choosing to invest in this album. On the other hand, I urge you to listen to the whole album quite a few times before you decide whether or not you will support Soilwork in their attempt to find new ways of expressing themselves musically.
I have seen quite a few reviews on the internet regarding this album, some of which are referring to "Stabbing the Drama" as a brilliant album, and others as a Nu Metal piece of sh*t…very interesting! It's everybody's right to believe what they want, but allow me not to agree with that characterisation. We should be motivating Metal bands to expand their musical horizons instead of condemning them for that - it is because of that attitude that Metal music is still alive after 35 years, and I really hope that one day the majority of the Metal fans will realise that.
And to honour my previous comment, if Nu Metal bands could play like Soilwork in their new album, I would be more than happy to become a supporter of that genre! That's all, I rest my case. Ah, I almost forgot: the quite simplistic album cover of "Stabbing the Drama" was designed by Mircea Gabriel Eftemie of Mnemic fame - if that rings any bells!
Review by John Stefanis