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The Ride Ahead: Soilwork on Their New Album

The Swedish melodic death metallers will also play their debut show in India next year

Anurag Tagat Aug 27, 2015
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(from left) Sylvain Coudret, Bjorn Strid, David Andersson, Dirk Verbeuren, Sven Karlsson and Markus Wibom. Photo courtesy of Hannah Verbeuren.

How does it happen that some of the most developed, happiest countrie s in the world can still have something to be sad and melancholic about? Swedish melodic death metal band Soilwork’s frontman Bjorn Strid has an explanation for why the best metal from the region is always characterized with gloom. Says Strid over the phone from Sweden, “Maybe we’re just spoilt and had to make up things to feel bad about. Being melancholic, it’s almost like a comforting feeling, you know?”

Soilwork, whose members got together in 1995, gained fame for their 2005 album Stabbing the Drama which brought in a fresh new approach to Scandinavia’s melo- death style. The band just released their tenth album The Ride Majestic. Says Strid, “I think this album is darker than [2013 double album] The Living Infinite. A little bit extreme in some parts, a little softer, more melancholic in other parts.” The 11- track album also includes everything that didn’t make it into The Living Infinite. The Ride Majestic took about five months to wrap up, says Strid, who would rather not be called the leader of the band or even the one who runs the show. Says Strid, “I think we’ve always been a very democratic band. It’s never been me running the show, hiring the musicians and taking all the money. For example, when [guitarists] Sylvain [Coudret] and David [Andersson] came into the band, they brought something new and made me, as a singer, step out of my comfort zone.” The frontman goes on to self-admittedly use an old cliché and call the current lineup and The Ride Majestic “a new era for Soilwork.”

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Part of that new era includes exploring new territory – Soilwork are co-headlining the 2016 edition of metal festival Bangalore Open Air, alongside Polish death metal veterans Vader, all the way in July next year. Says Strid about making their India debut, “I’m really excited to come to India. For us over here, it’s really cool to see there’s an actual scene. I guess it’s hard for us to imagine that somehow. But it’s cool to see that there are so many fans. We’ve got some offers before but it didn’t happen, so I’m really pleased with it.” By the time we get to July 2016, The Ride Majestic will be nearly a year old. Does that mean there will be new Soilwork material by then? Strid says, “In the beginning of our career, we released one album almost each year. Then again, we didn’t tour as much back then. Who knows, we might have a new album in two years, we’ll see.”

Relentless touring was also the reason why their bassist Ola Flink quit recently. Flink, who had joined the band in 1998, was replaced by the band’s guitar tech Markus Wibom. Says Strid, “He [Flink] came to a point in his life where he couldn’t see himself touring any more. He felt like he needed a daily routine and a normal job. He went crazy from it, being on the road.”Apart from Flink, Soilwork has had several lineup changes in their 20-year career, including guitarist and principal songwriter Peter Wichers leaving in 2005, only to rejoin in 2008 and leave again in 2012 over creative differences. Says Strid about lineup changes, “From the outside it might look like a circus, you know? ‘There’s another member leaving now? What is this circus band?’ But when you’re actually in the band and part of the process, it doesn’t seem that weird. When you’re growing up with a band like that, starting when you’re 18, a lot comes along the way and you have other things in life. Maybe you don’t like touring, you get married, you get kids – there’s so many things that can happen along that way.” Soilwork’s Indian fans are not complaining – if not for their crazy tour routine the Swedish melodic death metal band would have never made it here.

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