SOILWORK – Swedish Melodic Death Metal

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Swedish melodic death metal band have recently unleashed their phenomenal new double album The Living Infinite (Nuclear Blast Records) which was produced by Jen Borgen and the first to feature new guitarist David Andersson.  In a recent interview with drummer Dirk Verbeuren he spoke about the recording process for The Living Infinite, the band’s chemistry, the many ways in which music can be both enlightening and therapeutic to both the listener and the artist, and of course Soilworks’ goals for the rest of 2013.  Dirk states “The recording process was really smooth considering the amount of material we were working with, it was really intense, but everyone had a good state of mind, we were dead set on nailing this so we just worked our asses off and made it happen.”

Soilwork Live Photos 22Taking on the recording process for a double album was certainly no easy feat with twenty songs that ended up making the final cut and Dirk goes on to say that they actually had twenty-five tracks recorded and it was a great strength and inspiration having guitarist David Andersson come in who brought a lot of songs to the table and vocalist Bjorn Strid, along with the rest of the band did a lot of the writing for the new album.  Dirk goes on to say that this album was mostly a complete band effort compared to the albums in the past and this time around everyone was involved in the songwriting and arranging more than ever before.

When asked about the chemistry of the band’s current line-up Dirk says “It feels really good. I think because we have known David for quite a while we knew what we were getting into with him and we also knew that he was really good at writing music and the rest of us all kind of know how things work so, the chemistry with this record was really good because everyone was out to really make a statement with this album”

With nine album’s under their belt released as a band it obviously has to be quite a challenge to put together a set list every night and Dirk jokingly admits “There is way too much to choose from, but we do our best and we try different things. You know certain songs are great on record and not so good live and vice versa so you start to know what people will react to and believe me, we have a lot of heated discussions of what to play each night.”

Soilwork Live Photos 14It can always be quite surprising to a band to learn which songs fans seem to resonate with and it may or may not be one that the band thought would catch on with their fan base. Dirk commented “On the new album a lot of people seem to like Parasite Blues, the second to last song out of twenty songs, not that we put it there for a reason, but people really seemed to pick that one out. So you never know, sometimes things resonate and you don’t really know why people pick up on it.”

For a band that has been around as long as it is no doubt that they have witnessed the up rise of social media over the years and learned to utilize it as a strong tool for promotion. Dirk comments “I think we are doing the most Facebook and Twitter postings then we have ever done in the past and the reactions are incredible so that is why it is a wonderful tool. People really expect it nowadays and for me personally, I grew up in a time when we were still doing handwritten interviews and handing them in via snail mail to Bolivia or wherever they needed to go, so it is very different now. It is great to be able to get real time reactions from people all over the world almost instantaneously”

Soilwork - The Living InfiniteThe Living Infinite was the first double album release in the history of melodic death metal and certainly no small feat for a band to take on in the recording studio. Dirk recalls “It was kind of a crazy idea to do and Skid was really dead set on doing it and convinced us it would be something cool. I think in retrospect now that the album is done and it’s out we are all very happy. The biggest condition was that we would have enough strong and diverse music to complete the album. If we didn’t have all the demo material that we thought was really strong then we would have cut it down and did a regular record but as it turned out everybody really got to work and came up with a lot of really great stuff. Once we felt we had the material to make this album we just went for broke.”

Critics across the board are claiming that The Living Infinite is one of the best albums of Soilworks’ career to which Dirk comments “It’s hard to judge especially from the inside. I think it is different for everybody and every album has its own strengths and weaknesses, but right now it definitely feels great. People are reacting really well to The Living Infinite and hopefully it stays that way. We just got our Billboard chart positions and we are #60 here in the States which the best we’ve ever done!”

The album title The Living Infinite leaves a lot of room for interpretation to which Dirk says “The Living Infinite is actually a term that the writer Jules Verne used to describe the ocean and Strid lives right near the ocean and his father is a sailor, so it has always been something that has been very present in his life. For him it was just like reading about it and seeing that term kind of opened a door in his mind to where he used that as a metaphor and kind of based his lyrics, which are always very personal, around the concept of the ocean and like you said it is very open to interpretation.”

Soilwork Live Photos 09Dirk, himself, is a very eco-aware individual, a vegetarian, a strong supporter of PETA and holds the animal rights cause very close to his heart.  He recalls “Recently I saw a movie called “Shark Water” which is about this guy who is a surfer that sets out to make a documentary and film sharks. Throughout the process he finds out what’s happening to sharks right now and with extreme overfishing they are just being killed by the millions leaving hardly any sharks in some parts of the world where there used to be a ton.  For me The Living Infinite and the ocean in general is something that I want people and kids to be aware of and when you think of it and say ‘Oh, there are laws and that stuff’s being taken care of’ , that is not the case.  In reality they are just plundering the ocean and it can have really devastating consequences, not just on the wildlife, but on humans because the ocean is one of the earth and it’s really important that system stays in balance.  I hope that us talking about that and bringing it to the forefront will open some people’s minds to what is really happening these days.”

Soilwork has always been known to reveal a lot of honesty within their lyrical content.  When asked about that honesty that is put forth within the new album The Living Infinite Dirk had the following to say “ Spid has always kind of the main lyricist for Soilwork and his lyrics are always very personal to him and it’s important to us and  to even know that I can talk about this kind of stuff in an interview gives a new angle out there to kids who listen to the music and some of them may say ‘hey, I want to look this up and find out more about what he is saying’  and that is my hope. I mean, we are public figures and I’ve been one for quite a while now and I’ve kind of realized in the past half a year or so that I really want to utilize that platform to spread a message.”

Soilwork Live Photos 11Music can have a way of being very therapeutic to both the listener and the artist alike on which Dirk comments “Without music I don’t know where I would be! You enter a different space and I realize that I really need that in my life. I need that escape because sometimes life is depressing and you look at what’s going on in the world and its crazy sometimes and you don’t even want to turn on the news because of all the crap that is happening right now so, for me music is a good thing, as well, as for the listeners to kind of have a positive outcome with that, to kind of use it as a message and use it as a place where you can let yourself go! That’s important.”

Soilwork have currently embarked upon a very extensive North American and Canadian tour which will have the band playing shows crisscrossing all the across the country before wrapping up in Worcester, MA in early May.  Dirk had the following comments about his expectations for the current tour “It’s still new and fresh and I think we have a  pretty strong line up with Jeff Loomis, Blackguard, Bonded By Blood, Hatchet on this run. They are all really great bands and it’s pretty diverse. We still have a little bit of rebuilding to do because we didn’t tour half as much as we wanted to for Panic Broadcast for various reasons. We only did one US tour when that album came out, prior to that we toured almost every year in the US for six or seven years straight, so we are feeling that a little bit and I think people need to kind of reconnect with the band. Given the reactions to the record we are hoping that those people will come out to the shows. That is super important for a band like us to survive, people need to come and see us live.”

Soilwork Live Photos 30Soilwork have recently unveiled the music video for their song Rise Above The Sentiment which features a pretty cool old home video vibe which was created by an assistant who was in the studio with the band during the recording of The Living Infinite and came up with the concept for the old school VHS tape and the old man rocking out to Soilwork’s tunes.  Dirk says “Whenever you do a video you always have the typical angle of a band playing in a dark warehouse or typical shots, I mean, we’ve done that a number of times so we really wanted to do something different so it doesn’t always have to be dead serious so I’m really happy with the way the video turned out.”

There are definitely a few more videos in the works that are set to be unveiled soon such as a CGI-based video for the song Spectrum Of Eternity and there are plans in the works for a full band video sometime soon, however with all the band members living in different places across the globe that can make meeting up to film videos a bit of a challenge.  The possibility for a live performance DVD is definitely still on the table as well!  Dirk says “That has been in the works for like ten years and people keep asking us about it. I’m not quite sure exactly when it is going to happen but it’s definitely in the works. We will make it happen at some point!”

The band’s main goal for 2013 is to just spread the music and be out there to play their new songs for the people. The band is playing a nice mix of older songs, bringing back a number of songs they haven’t played in a while, and playing songs that have never been played live in the past. Dirk comments “Soilwork is strong, as strong as we’ve ever been and we are going to be on the road a lot! That is going to be one of the main goals of the year. If this tour does well then hopefully we will be back, so people….come out and see us!”

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