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Today we will talk about the album, which can be safely set as an example to those people who think that in 2019 the melodic death metal has fallen into a corner and that in this genre there is no one left except the old-school bands that play everything the same over and over. Or, as is the case with the latest releases of In Flames, such bands often try to play something lighter like alt metal or alt rock in order to scoop up a bit from young audiences listening to BMTH. In any of these cases, it does not work very well for them. But with this current band, it just turned out well, with something unexpected for me.

So, this is Soilwork – the Swedish metal band playing melo-death since 1996, but only recently I heard about their album and listened to this album from beginning to end. It is clear that the principle of “heard about the group – did not listen to anything from them” works here again, especially taking into account the fact that in my younger years listening to melo-death, I listened with great pleasure to all kinds of In Flames, Children of Bodom, Arch Enemy’s early works or some Amon Amarth (albeit with Viking motifs, but this is still melo-death in style). As you understand, I didn’t want to listen to other bands in particular, and Soilwork was the case.

Nevertheless, January 2019 arrived and their 11th album titled Reality came out, if translated from Swedish. Honestly, I did not expect anything from this release. I imagined the simple tendency that by the 11th album the groups were not very capable of presenting something truly worthy of attention. But, following the positive reviews of subscribers, I still heard this album and in spite of its some tightness in certain moments, I really think it is good and really want to recommend it to the fans of the genre.

On the cover art we have such a surreal picture of a crumbling castle, from which pieces of walls and columns are barely left to stand, and below we have something similar to a hefty bird’s beak, which is also crumbling thoroughly. Perhaps it was precisely such a picture of the crumbling being that the gentlemen from the group wanted to call the “Reality”, because in fact, the text of this release more than corresponds to this visual image.

To be more precise, the text of the album, again in a rather indirect and in some abstract manner, draws a single or collective image of the strugglers, who were initially broken trough in terms of living conditions, with each new track a new test rolls on them, which they barely overcome and struggle further. At the same time, there are clear references to various things and processes that make a person not to think about his problems, as was the case with the track Bleeder Despoiler, the negative influence of religious cults on the mind and body in the track The Nurturing Glance, references to airplanes, pilots and air battles in the Stalfagel track, etc. In each of the tracks on the album, you can pick a lot of everything diverse and interesting, which can not but rejoice.

Again, these texts can be brought to a common denominator in the form of the above-mentioned album cover and its title, because all these tracks describe various pictures and images of a rather unpleasant and hostile world, where the heroes or hero of the album try to not only to resist, but also to exist not like his environment tells him. This is speaking of my personal impression of the text, which in any case is not registered in the “what I see, then I sing” mode, and for this many thanks already. It is these texts that allow the imagination to roam and find something of its own in the symbolism and various phrases of a track.

Regarding the music content, I have one huge remark to the whole album. More precisely, to its duration. More precisely, to the fact that, that’s because each track lasts more than 4 minutes on average, it seems out of place repeating and thus losing in the general dynamics. In other words, as I usually say, in my opinion and hearing, the tracks would be much better if they were one and a half times shorter and extra pauses, interludes, transitions, breeches and solos would be cut out of them. But, if we are to be completely honest, this remark is the only one that I can present to the music content of the album.

Despite the fact that we technically have a pretty strong band, the instrumental content still loses compared to the vocal, for the simple reason that the vocals (in particular, the choruses of the tracks on a clean sound) carry the album fully. Seriously, in spite of a rather simple and straightforward approach to the construction and performance of vocal lines, they are very easy to listen to and even easier to remember. In fact, you can miss the rather stereotypical extreme extreme vocals, not always original and interesting guitar parts, and compositionally mediocre drums (although technically, of course, everything was done at a decent level).

The emphasis in the general songwriting was not on harshness, heaviness or technicality, as is customary in melodic death metal, here emphasis was placed on memorability and general melody of content, complemented by a good portion of emotionality in vocals. Nevertheless, I can not say that rejecting the use of lower tunings or tighter grooves was really necessary. It seems to me that with more heavy riffs the album would have a lot more expressiveness. At the same time, each of the tracks consists of really complex technically, but quite light in sound (again in comparison with the rest of the genre). Of course, this is my first album in their discography, I can not judge others, but the fact remains.

In the end, I am still pleased with the album, it sounds very well mostly because of the vocals, which perfectly carries everything, and the instrumental, which still serves as a background to which you have to listen attentively to make out the melodic death stylistic moments. But in the bottom line and in the end, it all works very well in combination. Be sure to listen to it, because you get a good melo-death without overly harsh sound that can damage your ears, which happens very rarely. 4 out of 5.

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