THE SOILWORK FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH
I started dreading middle age a little early, and not only for the universal reasons. Of course, I fret that my staggering good looks will fade, my wang will begin to betray me (more often), and the psychic fatigue of drug abuse will finally mangle my sunny disposition. Those are typical concerns; I can deal with that shit. What I couldn’t handle, however, is the likely transformation into a mean old jerk who constantly complains that new music sucks and fuck everybody who listens to it. You know people like this. I’ve spent my life among them. They are the worst!
I don’t want to be an oldist, ever. It means missing out on too much good new shit in exchange for the comfort of the familiar. And it makes you sound like an out-of-touch douchelord. So I’m constantly checking myself, like a prostate self-exam. And for the last few years, the outlook was kinda alarming: In my honest moments, I was longing for more singing and less screaming; I keep waiting for some real singers to step forward and become the Tate, Dickinson, and Halford of this new era. Also, my phobias came to include breakdowns, the Krank guitar sound, random riffs, hyper-precise drums mixed to resemble farts in the bath, and macho diary-style lyrics — each a touchstone of post-Pantera commercial metal. So, yeah. Fuck, I thought, I might as well start pricing dentures.
That was last year. This year, amazingly, I’m starting to see that my beefs with modern metal are quietly, firmly being rectified by melody-minded artists like Soilwork, Nevermore, and Devin Townsend. This is an awesome development, ‘cuz it saves me from oldism and its attendant bitching. I can’t, for example, gripe that today’s metal bands don’t respect the legacy of thrash metal by eschewing melody, high-impact vocal performances, and the all-important guitar solo. (Yeah, metalcore attempts all of the aforementioned. But come on.)
Whether or not you’re feeling over-the-hill, check out “Night Comes Clean” (above) from this year’s Soilwork album The Panic Broadcast. First of all, the tune exposes Peter Wichers and crew as hoarders of snappy hooks (this track has two winning refrains — the last God Forbid album had the same number); also, “Night” features a fucking staggering performance from Bjorn “Speed” Strid, who is now undoubtedly among music’s most compelling singers. See, there’s a difference between your basic detour into “clean vocals” and a well-practiced vocalist singing his nuts off. The latter is a toe in the water, the former a titanic cannonball. So thanks to Speed and his ilk, I don’t feel crotchety and metal is better.
Soilwork plays songs from The Panic Broadcast on tour in Australia and Europe this Fall. Get dates here.