Soilwork’s Infinite Brings Cleveland to Life
Though Soilwork’s headlining tour through North America had originally been advertised as having support from Wretched and The Browning, somewhere along the line the tour became outfitted with neo-thrashers Bonded By Blood and Hatchet. Though I didn’t miss The Browning’s breakdowns-meet-EDM travesty, I had been stoked to see Wretched. But this tour is really about Soilwork, and on the night of March 22nd in Cleveland the Swedish melodeath titans drove fans to yet another sold-out show and packed Peabody’s to the gills.
Bonded By Blood’s competent if unremarkable thrash was, as usual, much more enjoyable live than on record. Their execution was tight, especially for a band with only one guitarist. Fast pits and groove-ridden headbanging were spurred on by Juan Juarez’s seven-string savagery. Vocalist Mauro Gonzales strayed towards the harsher realm of the vocal spectrum, locking in with bassist Jessie Sanchez.
All three times I’ve seen them Blackguard’s steely thunder has yet to disappoint. This night was no different – their fast-paced melodeath was invigorating as well as precise. We got a glimpse of the band’s upcoming 2013 release on a track that showcased increased technicality and more developed songwriting. Unfortunately, the band’s quiet, excessively gainy guitars and overwhelming bass muddled an otherwise stellar performance.
Those mix issues found their way to the guitars in shredder Jeff Loomis’s set, though the problem improved as the set progressed. Loomis has gained quite a following since departing Nevermore, and heads banged across the room to old favorites “Jato Unit” and “Miles of Machines.” But considering the comparative technical appeal of the artists on the bill, Jeff Loomis’s 40-minute set felt a little long.
Though Jeff Loomis’s set may have started to drag, Soilwork’s monstrous hour and a half felt brief. Though MS’s own Abysmal Shawn wasn’t unduly inspired I’ve found myself unable to stop listening to The Living Infinite, and the band’s set incorporated a hefty slab of tracks from the new album in addition to old favorites. Bjorn Strid is one of the most accurate live metal singers I’ve ever seen perform. Plenty of vocalists can maintain pitch, but Strid’s delivery maintains rich, lustrous, tone as well as seasoned precision, and I’m now regretting I didn’t nominate him for the controversial list we’ve been working on of late. Flurries of notes from David Andersson and Sylvain Coudret helped consistently generate roiling pits, accented by Sven Karlsson’s resonant keys. By the time they finished their three-song encore, Soilwork had thoroughly cemented their position as some of the best melodeath performers around today.