Aug 172022

(We present DGR‘s considered review of Övergivenheten, the new Soilwork album that’s coming out this Friday, August 19th, via Nuclear Blast.)

Look, an hour and five minutes (plus) is a very long time for an album. Not to put too fine a point on it here, but it’s a very long time for a Soilwork album as well. If you’ve been following the numbers game recently you’ll have noticed that Amon Amarth‘s The Great Heathen Army is not the only 12th album released by a long-running band this year, as Soilwork are also joining that prestigious club with their newest album Övergivenheten.

There’s a lot to be said for Soilwork‘s longevity, as a revolving door of cast members have kept the band lively over the years. Even through up and down periods in the group’s popularity, they’ve always found a way to morph themselves just enough to stay relevant within the modern-day scheme of metal. They have had “eras” as a result, which is a wild thing to say about a band who have always been so built around massive singles in recent years.

Their early era is them leaping onto the melodeath train, only to then transfer into the keyboard-heavy years for a few releases, then jumping headlong ( as so many peers did) into the melodeath/metalcore hybrid chock-full of power-chorus lines and big, chugging riffs, and into the high-speed and blast-heavy form they took on The Living Infinite and The Ride Majestic. But then what do we call the current one that has been comprised of Verkligheten, the Underworld EP that surfaced five months after, A Whisp In The Atlantic, and the new release of Övergivenheten?

This latest phase has seen quite a bit of crossover between vocalist Bjorn “Speed” Strid‘s Night Flight Orchestra bandmates into the current Soilwork lineup as well as an odd transfer into a hybrid glory-chorus power metal and still blast-heavy form. Is this the era when Soilwork decided they were going to provide the soundtrack to a French daytime soap opera?

One way to look at Övergivenheten is this: It is the expanded version of Verkligheten, and to put it frankly, a large part of where you land with the current Soilwork release will boil down to how well you gelled with that older sibling. If you were to imagine Verkligheten as a balloon, then Övergivenheten is the version of it that is blown up to the point of almost bursting. You can almost feel the strain.

This is an album of Soilwork at their most indulgent. There are so many ideas on this release that you’ll recognize from the previous album that there’s a sense they weren’t quite done with them the first time around. From song concepts, themes, even the occasional motif, Övergivenheten is Soilwork figuring that Verkligheten worked so well for them, why not stay within that sandbox again? Right down to the absolute blast of necessary copy-and-paste that is the album title every time you bring it up when writing about it.

Of course what that translates to is getting a hell of a lot more of everything than you did the first time around during their newfound daytime soap opera soundtrack era. The clean singing is prominent and powerful this time around – which is where it seems there will be a lot of people noticing the crossover with Night Flight Orchestra: Any time Bjorn gets to show off at the mic with an even mildly glitzy-sounding chorus, the comparisons come hard and fast.

Soilwork do their best to try and offset a lot of that, but given how much material is on Övergivenheten, it’s easy to see that not every song will be the most dynamically balanced out there. Soilwork still have their bread-and-butter massive chorus songs — “Electric Again” will likely work its way into the live set the instant it is able to — but you’ll also probably cross paths with “Death, I Hear You Calling” before long as well.

Within the ideas of expanding upon their predecessor though, you also encounter melodies so saccharine-sweet that the double-take is enough to snap necks (and many of them are almost entirely echoing music from the album’s  older sibling). There’s another majority-clean-sung song here in the form of “Valleys Of Gloam” peering around the corner after the dense block of “yes, we are still Soilwork” that is the first three tracks, and it’s one of the more indulgent songs here. The song equivalent of slamming an entire bag of sugar into your face at once.

One has to wonder how much of this comes from the response to the mini movie that was A Whisp In The Atlantic, but also how much the band felt like Verkligheten needed a sequel. Soilwork have done a double album before and yet it almost feels like the pairing of these full-lengths could’ve been another one given how much the two seem to mirror each other. “This Godless Universe” plays out like the call-and-response to Verkligheten‘s “When The Universe Spoke” and somewhere in the act of creating mirror-universe versions of songs and expanding upon those ideas, Övergivenheten grew larger and larger in both scope and ambition.

Yet after all is done within the album it may be hard to tell where you stand outside of just how much of an endurance test it is. There’s a ton of material here, and save for a single minute-thirty song in the center of the release that serves a breather, every track ranges between nearly five minutes and well over seven of Soilwork flexing their muscles. The issue with it is that for every song with an undeniable hook or massive riff, there are others that play out like pieces stapled together and forced to work. Soilwork are polished enough that this is hardly noticeable, but while their bag of tricks may be deep, the group seem to have dived far enough within it that they’re able to see light through the fabric on the other side.

They give everything they have on this release in service of their current arena-chorus, power-riffing, still-somewhat-melodeath form, and the ambition shown on Övergivenheten is not something you would’ve expected to hear from a band on their 12th full-length. Soilwork remain a band full of surprises in terms of career choices and Övergivenheten is an album that is sure to test your endurance of said choices because you are going to hear all of them, and then realize you still have ten to fifteen minutes of music left.


  1. This one connected with me instantly. It’s Verkligheten on steroids; and Bastian has been unleashed on the drums.

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