Soilwork - Figure Number Five
Nuclear Blast
Melodic Death/Thrash Metal
11 songs (40'50")
Release year: 2003
Soilwork, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Alex

Ever since Sweden’s Soilwork followed up their debut Steelbath Suicide with an amazing The Chainheart Machine (my #2 album in 2000) they have been on my “I can’t miss a next album by this band” list. Even though both Predator’s Portrait and Natural Born Chaos were good solid albums somehow I was longing for more. The Chainheart Machine made me want to jump out on the street and yell “METAL!” Soilwork’s last two offerings were merely “GOOD JOB!” So, here comes another brick in the wall of Soilwork’s discography – Figure Number Five.

One thing Soilwork has going for it is the steadiness of their line-up. Ever since some early changes were made, Soilwork stuck to their guns in terms of bandplayers. The same can’t be sad about the overall style though. Bjorn “Speed” Strid discovered his clean vocals somewhere around Predator’s Portrait, and the band decided to make them shine on Natural Born Chaos. In order to make things fit, a natural progression was to have a large number of mellower cleaner melodic passages. Most of the time, they came in the form of hooky-catchy choruses garnished with a healthy helping of keyboards. The combo wasn’t bad, with some songs being better than others. Of course, thrash roots could not be forgotten, and Devin Townsend was brought in to “connect the dots” and provide clear yet heavy production.

Why am talking so much about Natural Born Chaos when the album in question is Figure Number Five? Because, as much as I tried to hear otherwise, Figure Number Five is Soilwork’s statement that the new sound found on Natural Born Chaos is really theirs, not Devin’s. It is my understanding, the band recorded the album in three different studios, one of them Fredman with Fredrik Nordstrom. Back to the roots, huh? In a sense, yes, but not entirely, as songs on Figure Number Five are more refined versions of their Natural Born Chaos predecessors.

It is really tough for me to describe the album song-by-song. You have one very aggressive cut (title track), and one softer dreamier song (I am sure that Departure Plan will annoy a few people). Everything else is just about the same “in between”. A good mix of modern death-thrash and melodic prowess which only shows how much Soilworkers have progressed as songwriters.

Heavy passages come in the form of open crunchy riffs with Speed screaming atop of them. Drummer Ranta is still a rock and drum kit simply explodes from his punches. Speed’s clean singing is much more pervasive now, and appears not only in choruses but throughout the album. I’d say it is almost 50/50 should you ask. Somehow his tone is almost Depeche Modian, and I am not sure I enjoyed that 100%. Quite a few keyboard parts by Sven Karlsson are here, sometimes almost entire leads (Overload), while I would prefer Wichers and Frenning pound me with their guitar wizardry. Guys, where is the shredding, where are the leads? As it was the case with Natural Born Chaos some songs stood out for me more than others, with Rejection Role a possible next MTV 2 video.

Usually, if I generally liked the album I am trying to structure my review to say why I liked it, and then point out a few missing pieces. With Soilwork’s latest I am obviously doing just the opposite. Don’t get me wrong, people! Figure Number Five is still a strong effort which will keep most of the fans satisfied. In fact, this sound should earn them a successful North American tour just like Reroute to Remain did for In Flames. Music like the one to be found on Figure Number Five, come to think of it, is similar in a sense to the latest In Flames, and somehow appeals to many young Americans. Must be the downtuned guitars. I am just so desperate for that The Chainheart Machine feeling where two shredding guitars gripped my imagination and youthful unabashed enthusiasm of young Swedes was infectious, I wouldn’t settle for anything else, including a more mature, polished, but less emotional effort. I just want more. Call me old-fashioned.

Killing Songs :
Rejection Role, Cranking the Sirens, Brickwalker, The Mindmaker
Alex quoted 75 / 100
Danny quoted 98 / 100
Other albums by Soilwork that we have reviewed:
Soilwork - Death Resonance reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Soilwork - The Ride Majestic reviewed by Goat and quoted 74 / 100
Soilwork - The Living Infinite reviewed by Goat and quoted 75 / 100
Soilwork - The Panic Broadcast reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Soilwork - Sworn To A Great Divide reviewed by Crims and quoted 72 / 100
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