Soilwork’s Björn “Speed” Strid on Balancing the Darkness and the Light
If there’s one thing Soilwork have mastered over the years, it’s a balance between darkness and light. Blending heavy, aggressive metal with melody is their bread and butter, and and despite lineup changes and living through some of the weirdest years in human history, they continue to push on and find joy in being a band.
On their new record, Övergivenheten, out now via Nuclear Blast records, Soilwork reflect on both sides of life and also on a lengthy, 12-album career. One summer afternoon over Zoom, vocalist Björn “Speed” Strid shared his take about the new album and the band’s longevity.
How did it feel to make your 12th studio album, and what was the writing and recording process like? Did COVID cause any delays?
Obviously we had some more time on our hands than usual, and I think that had to do with having more times on our hands in 2020, and being able to experiment. Around that time, I really needed a break, I think, from everything. So when COVID came, while of course I didn’t wish for a pandemic to come, it was good timing for me because I needed a break.
Meanwhile, David (Andersson, guitars) was extremely creative and never stopped writing. He just kept going, and so it was something that took me out of my comfort zone and inspired me to start writing again. But it took some time for me because I needed to take a break, and I needed to get to know that other person. You know—the other Björn who does not get on stage or behind a microphone. I’m sure some people can relate if they’re touring musicians.
It was really our first break in 20 years, so I think I got to have some distance from everything, get to know that other guy, and then slowly get back into songwriting for a new album. For a while, I got a bit worried because I thought, oh, can I go back to being that person again? I didn’t feel much inspiration at first, but then I sort of force-started the engines a little bit. And once I opened up that door, a lot of inspiration came in, but I sort of joined the songwriting quite late in the process.
And then we decided to spread out the recording sessions. It wasn’t like booking the studio for weeks and doing everything from scratch. We’ve always felt it’s hard to stay focused for that long and live and breathe the songs for that long, so I think spreading it out was really good for us.
This album was sort of the perfect balance, and there’s an absolute inferno of emotions running through it: quite dark, melancholic, but also very uplifting and empowering. The main songwriters on the album, me and David, we’ve been on different planets. The last few years, he’s been in some of the darkest times in his life, and meanwhile, I’ve been in a pretty good place, and it’s been kind of hard to channel all of those emotions into one mutual vision, but I also think that creates an interesting diversity and contrast.
With all of those emotions kind of combined and coming together. What are some of the big lyrical themes on the record?
Like I mentioned before, with David taking care of a lot of the lyrics for this album, he’s been in a very dark place, and I think there’s been an inner war going on with him. During this break, people really had to face their demons; there was no running away.
It’s been it’s been extremely tough for him and also very tough for me to see him going through these these really, really dark times, but I think this this album has been a great outlet in the end.
What has it been like getting back out on the road and touring?
Traffic in Europe and the rest of the world is extremely crazy right now—Everybody’s out there. I’ve heard that people are not finding tour buses; it’s almost like an impossible task at this point. So we made a conscious decision. We’re going to do Australia, and we’re doing the European festivals right now, but those are mostly postponed festivals. As far as touring Europe, and hopefully America, that’s all going to. happen next year, and hopefully things will be back to normal a bit.
Are you all already looking ahead to the next album, or are you not thinking that far in advance?
No, definitely not. I think we’re really still living and breathing this album; it’s very special in many ways, and I think people can really feel that throughout this whole album. So we’re very much in the moment right now, and we can’t wait to tour this album, because I think it’s going to do really well.
But the next album, we’re definitely not there yet. That being said, we might write a few songs here and there, but as far as approaching a new album, that’s going to take some time. I think there’s a lot for fans to take in on the new album. It’s quite a journey, and I think it’s going to stand the test of time.
You can really feel the emotions going through the album, especially through the melodies. I think we’ve written some of the best melodies we’ve ever written with this album. And like I mentioned before, it’s extremely diverse and dynamic and full of surprises.
I would say that most of our fans have grown to love the fact that we constantly evolve with this band, that we stay true to our roots, but we always survive. I think there’s going to be surprises for each and every album, so I think our fans actually look forward to that and expect it. There is plenty of that on this record.
- Nouse Sommes la Guerre”
- Electric Again
- Valleys Of Gloam
- Is It In Your Darkness
- Death, I Hear You Calling
- This Godless Universe
- Dreams Of Nowhere
- The Everlasting Flame
- Harvest Spine
- On The Wings Of A Goddess Through Flaming Sheets Of Rain