Soilwork (with The Forsaken and Mnemic)
Nottingham Rock City on 24 February 2004
Reviewed by Andreas on 19th March 2004
To be honest, I didn't want to go to this gig originally. Soilwork dedicated their first album to "the metal gods of the 80s", and by my standards that is definitely the opposite of a good thing. In fact, that is usually a BAD (yes capital b, a, and d) thing. Still, it was my mate's birthday, and seeing as no one else wanted to go to said gig, I volunteered, bought a ticket and organised transport and whatnot (I'm such a nice person). I had heard Soilwork before, and I figured it couldn't be all bad. As with all metal gigs, there were 3 bands on, all from Sweden, all of them blonde. It seems whoever controls Scandinavian stereotypes is not without humour.
First out on this cold Tuesday night was a band called 'Mnemic', who've just released their debut album on German metal label Nuclear Blast. This means they share label with the likes of Dimmu Borgir and such acts. I can't say I paid too much attention, to be honest, but I have my excuses. See, the frontman of this band (who looked an awful lot like the frontman of Lost Prophets, by the way) liked spitting. He spat in time with the chugging cyber-metal riffs, the booming bass and the jumps of the crowd. About 3 songs into their set of REALLY hard metal, he spat upwards. The spit grabbed a hold of the ceiling, a mere 10 inches above his head. The spit was then, as most things, subjected to the laws of gravity; what goes up must come down. I was disgustingly mesmerized by the long 'sliver' of spit working its way down towards the singer's blonde and spiked hair. As a result, most of their actual music has disappeared from my memory, when I think back to their set I can only see the spit dripping down. And if you wondered, yes, it did end up in his hair. Not that he seemed to care. I'm giving them 5/10 because my mate Simon said they were "average". And Simon knows his metal.
Next band up were 'The Forsaken'. I'll be brief. The vocalist was big and blonde. They played black metal. I got bored. Their best song was a ridiculous number called "One More Kill", and that was only tolerable because they did some strange hand gestures in the chorus. Their brand of black metal was not melodic, it didn't have hooks; it was just plodding riffs and double bass drums and screaming about orcs or something. They sounded just like every other below-average black metal band I've heard. This particular genre of metal has been increasing in popularity recently, and unless you're bringing something new to the genre, you'll always be boring compared to the bands on the top of the league.
At this point, I was getting bored. Time was moving so slowly, the drinks were expensive, and the guy choosing the music between the bands kept playing the same Stone Sour song over and over. I'd seen two bands I didn't like already.
However, a man suddenly (I'm guessing he was Swedish as well) came onstage, walked over to a synth, pressed a few buttons, and catchy, chugging industrial music started pouring out the speakers. Soilwork came onstage, and immediately launched into their set of very heavy, very catchy metal. Their mix of massive choruses, hard verses and (strangely) widdly solos mixed with an obvious fascination with industrial music makes for something altogether more special than your average metal band. If I have a say in the matter, this is the way forward for metal. Tapping into the same vein of music as In Flames, Katatonia, and at times Opeth, Soilwork manage to inject some genuine emotion into their music, passion if you will. Songs like "As We Speak" and "Distortion Sleep" are the kind of stuff that could bridge the gap between the rock fan and the metal fan. Their music has appeal, it has aggression, it has synths, quiet parts, and most importantly, it has the melodies that make you sing along and jump like a tit. These are people who can play their instruments, they can scream AND sing beautifully, and their songwriting talents exceed that of most bands. It's not easy listening, it's not Canadian college rock, it's not a bunch of idiots from England with floppy hair, and we can certainly use more bands like that. All in all, a great show by one of Europe's best metal bands.
The American metal empire is ending, open up the doors for the Swedish invasion. Or they'll just break them down with sheer force of volume, your choice.
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