Back in 2002, Soilwork released the well-received Natural Born Chaos, a tight, ultra-intense LP that irrevocably altered the band's sound — and for the better. It's still regarded as a tremendous breakthrough for the Swedish melodic-death-metal merchants, thanks in large part to producer Devin Townsend's influence.
Unfortunately for Soilwork, the Strapping Young Lad frontman — who has also worked with the likes of Lamb of God and Gwar — was too busy with his own projects to assist the band on its subsequent releases (2003's Figure Number Five and 2005's Stabbing the Drama), much to Soilwork frontman Björn "Speed" Strid's chagrin.
"He's meant so much to Soilwork's music," the giant singer explained. "I don't think we'd sound the way we do without him. He's been such a huge inspiration through the years, and he creates music in such a unique way ... I could definitely see him doing the next record for us."
By "next record," Strid's referring to the one that will inevitably follow Sworn to a Great Divide, the band's latest studio outing, which hits stores October 23. While Townsend didn't produce Sworn in its entirety, he did free up some time to work with Strid on his vocals, which the producer was "really psyched to do," Strid explained.
Sworn was tracked in Soilwork's hometown of Helsingborg, at Not Quite Studios — which is owned by the band's friends in Darkane. The album, like Soilwork's other efforts, expands on the sound they've been developing since the release of 1998's Steelbath Suicide, and Strid believes it's the band's most diverse offering to date.
"We can't make the same album twice," he explained. "Our music, it comes out in a natural way. We want to top ourselves every time, and we learn from the previous recording and try to take it to the next level. I definitely think we have developed our own sound, which is kind of hard nowadays. We were one of the originators of this balance between melodies and intensity, and we've developed that through the years. In the beginning, it was mostly the guitars that took care of the melodies. Now, it's in a different shade — it's more like the vocals take care of some of that stuff."
Soilwork, who were one of the main attractions on Ozzfest's second stage back in 2005, plan to spend the next year or so on the road to promote Sworn, Strid said. They'll get started next month when they take part in one of the year's biggest metal tours: the Lamb of God/ Killswitch Engage co-headlining run, which is set to launch November 28 in Lowell, Massachusetts, and go through December 17 in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.
It will be the band's first arena trek — a welcome change, Strid said, from Ozzfest's outdoor amphitheaters. After that tour wraps, Soilwork plan to return to Europe for some gigs and then head back to the States sometime in early 2008. Strid said there are no solidified plans yet for any '08 tours but confessed that several things are "in the works."
The band shot a video back in July for the album's lead single, "Exile," which Strid said has an unusual plotline.
"This director [Daniel Larsson] contacted us, and he had a tricky concept for the video," the singer explained. "His idea was that the whole band would be locked inside these speakers and amps, and this girl's walking her dog and she finds the speakers and amps in the bushes. She gets addicted to the music that comes out, and she wants to present it to the world — but we're working against her, tumbling around in the speakers. It's actually quite cool."
Soilwork's music will be featured in the upcoming video game "Overclocked," a thriller about an Army psychiatrist who's called to evaluate five young patients who've lost their memories. The band wrote an exclusive song, also called "Overclocked," for the game. Strid said they also hope to issue a DVD next year, as it will mark the 10th anniversary of Steelbath Suicide's release.
"It will be a live DVD," he said. "We wanted to do something special for our fans, and we've got lots of material already. We want to film some more shows soon — maybe even tape one show from each continent we hit on our tour."
Unfortunately, the yet-untitled disc will not feature footage from one of Strid's most memorable shows, which happened several years ago when the band was on tour with Brazilian death-metallers Krisiun.
"It was our first tour in Europe, and we were driving around in a house van that kept on breaking down," he explained. "We were playing in France at this restaurant, but the staff there thought they had booked a Brazilian samba band. You can image the looks on their faces when we all walked through the door. But actually, it was an unbelievable show. We still played, and the people there were really nice — they fed us and gave us red wine. It turned out pretty cool at the end."
The rest of the week's metal news:
Swedish band Sonic Syndicate will make their North American debut on an upcoming tour featuring Amon Amarth, Himsa and Decapitated. The tour launches November 19 in San Diego and runs through December 19 in Los Angeles. "We are excited and really looking forward to finally getting over there to see the American fans," guitarist Richard Sjunnesson said in a statement. "I have personally followed [Amon Amarth] since the early '90s, and touring with them makes me happier than words can express. It will of course also be an honor to share the stage with the brilliant metal acts Himsa and Decapitated. See you all soon!" ... West Virginia's Byzantine will drop their third album, Oblivion Beckons, at the end of January. The album was produced by Aaron Fisher and is the follow-up to 2005's ... And They Shall Take Up Serpents. "This is the first Byzantine album in which all four members have contributed songs," singer/ rhythm guitarist Chris "OJ" Ojeda said in a statement. "To my ears, it makes for a much more varied and interesting album from start to finish." Tracks include "Absolute Horizon," "Nadir" and "Expansion and Collapse." ...
Rammstein guitarist Richard Kruspe's side project, Emigrate, will bring their self-titled debut to the U.S. on January 28. The band's first single, "My World," was featured in the film "Resident Evil: Extinction." A video for the second single, "New York City," was recently shot in New York and can be seen on the Emigrate Web page. Emigrate — featuring Kruspe (vocals, guitar), Olsen Involtini (guitar), Arnaud Giroux (bass), Henka Johansson (drums) and Sascha Moser (programming) — recorded their album with longtime Rammstein cohorts Jacob Hellner and Stefan Glaumann. "At one point, I was asking myself, 'Does the world really need my record?' " Kruspe said in a statement. "[But I decided] I had to do it, simple as that." Kruspe is currently in Berlin with Rammstein recording the band's next album. ... Burnt by the Sun, From Autumn to Ashes and Schoolyard Heroes have been added to the lineup for this year's Saints and Sinners Festival, set for November 3 and November 4 in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Also slated to take the stage are Against Me!, Saves the Day, Horse the Band, the Number 12 Looks Like You, Glassjaw, Between the Buried and Me, From First to Last, Norma Jean and others. ...
Pig Destroyer frontman Blake Harrison and Misery Index bassist/singer Jason Netherton are now the hosts of a new two-hour show on XM Satellite Radio station Liquid Metal. Named "The Ultraviolence" after a 1987 Death Angel album, the program will debut Friday night (October 12) at 7 p.m. on Liquid Metal, XM channel 42. "We will play everything you may have missed, you have never heard of and/or you should know and [be] raising your illegitimate children to (preferably starting in the womb)," wrote Netherton in a release. "We will also be having guests and friends on regularly. The war starts now." ... Polish death-metal veterans Vader will release the live DVD "And Blood Was Shed in Warsaw" on November 20. The disc was shot at the Stodola Club in February on the last stop of the band's tour to promote its 2006 album, Impressions in Blood. The show features guest appearances by members of Behemoth and Vesania as well as the videos for "Helleluyah (God Is Dead)" and "Sword of the Witcher." ...
Tulsa, Oklahoma, metalcore band the Agony Scene will release their third album, Get Damned, October 23. The disc will be the band's first to feature drummer Ryan Folden, who replaced Brent Masters late last year. The band will launch a tour with A Life Once Lost, Suicide Silence and Walls of Jericho on October 30 in Rochester, New York. Dates run through November 14 in Lewisville, Texas. ... Psychedelic cult-metal band Bigelf will release their debut album, Hex, in North America on October 30. The disc was recorded in 2003 and released shortly after in Europe, but never came out Stateside. ... Long Island, New York, hardcore bludgeoners This Is Hell are in Full Force Studios with producer Joe Cincotta (Obituary, Suffocation) tracking the follow-up to their 2006 full-length debut, Sundowning. Drums for the yet-untitled new disc were recorded at Killingsworth Recording Company in Long Island with Tomas Costanza (Diffuser, Bedlight for Blue Eyes). The album is tentatively scheduled for release on February 19.