Soilwork Natural Born Chaos
Grade
B
 
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After a good listen to Soilwork, you'll find their music to be quite reminiscent to the power/thrash metal scene that was popular during the 80s and early 90s. This 6-piece fuses strong guitarwork with a firm backbone of bass and drums, accents of keyboard and some varied vocal work that keeps the album from feeling like it's retreading the same ground in each track. There are some strong hints of Testament, Pantera and even Satriani in the music.

Produced by Devin Townsend (Strapping Young Lad), Natural Born Chaos sounds crisp and clean. The guitars range from harsh staccato thrash to more melodic and intricate stringwork. Both Wichers and Frenning's solos are nicely played and are meshed wonderfully with the rest of the songs. There is rarely a time where the guitars become too overblown in either direction as the music tries to play the balance. The beat that plays throughout has a good pace that's often slower than most of the more standard metal bands. Karlsson's keyboards add a nice backdrop that's actually a bonus to the tone and ambience of the album. Speed's vocals show a good range, running the length of the scale from acidic growling to smooth harmony.

The opening track, Follow The Hollow, comes across as a blast of power that I find to be a weak representation of what the rest of the album delivers. It's the kind of track that would have been better served a few places back, as I tend to see the album as more of a balance between the heavy and melodic. In fact, the second track, As We Speak, is a far better representation with an almost passive intro that slides into a hammering verse and then back into a harmonic chorus. The title track is a nice piece that has a fair groove to it and a chorus that's quite memorable. Black Star Deceiver has some excellent harmonic vocal parts that work in opposition to the rage of the verses. The final track, Soilworker's Song of the Damned, is a great mood piece that has wonderful keyboards adding a dark cloud to the song and acts as a great finish to the album.

If you've ever been a fan of thrash metal, you should check this out. Soilwork is obviously a throwback to the older thrash genre. While they are a fair step ahead of most of the monotonous dreck that's been spawned in the past few years, they do manage to owe a good bit to acts that have obviously influenced them. It is refreshing to hear some new blood in the genre, even if they don't push the genre too far away from it's roots. Those not interested in metal may want to skip this, but any fan of the genre should look into it.

- - Vane

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