There are few artists that need no introduction, but Sweden's SOILWORK are definitely one of them. Their reputation as one of the country's finest exports (aside from mustaches, Swedish fish and porn) is well-deserved. Few bands have melded the aggressiveness of metal with genuinely catchy choruses to such impressive results. Before you start name-dropping the latest metalcore sensation, let's just get one thing straight: SOILWORK did it first, and better! One listen to the band's latest, Sworn To A Great Divide, makes it obvious that they're still miles ahead of the competition.
SOILWORK - which is not a reference to cultivation, but to working their way up from the ground – have established a solid reputation alongside fellow countrymen prodigies like In Flames, Meshuggah, Arch Enemy, Dark Tranquillity and The Haunted. Surfacing in 1997 with a five-track demo, In Dreams We Fall Into The Eternal Lake, SOILWORK commenced with four individuals, expanding members prior to their first full-length release. Steelbath Suicide, the band's official debut, saw the light of day in 1998 and immediately caused a major positive stir in the metal underground. Undergoing a small line-up change, the band once again entered Studio Fredman and created The Chainheart Machine, one of the year 2000's most intense and remarkable metal releases. Exploring more dynamic structures, the album showcased evident musical growth and provided the necessary elements to commence sculpting the SOILWORK sound.
In 2001, A Predator's Portrait hit the metal scene with ferocity, capitalizing on the songwriting strengths and diverse musicianship of the band and taking fans and critics by surprise. Continuing to smash metal boundaries through melodic chaos and high-speed delivery, SOILWORK's expanded sound set them apart from the rest of the Swedish contingent, opening their music to a wider prospective audience. Highlights for the band that year included their performance at Wacken Open Air in front of more than 20,000 fans, as well as their first-ever American appearance at the Milwaukee Metalfest.
Hitting a potent blend of aggression and melody, SOILWORK stepped it up like pros for the critically acclaimed Natural Born Chaos. Released in 2002 and produced by Strapping Young Lad mastermind Devin Townsend (Stuck Mojo, Lamb Of God), SOILWORK reached a whole new level on their referential fourth outing. The album showcased a staggering performance from frontman Björn "Speed" Strid, ranging from the thrashy vocals he established on previous works to the harmonic arrays of choral stability, and displaying enough talent, ability, dexterity and confidence to take SOILWORK's music into virtually any direction. This highly successful release landed the band's first American tour supporting Hypocrisy, Killswitch Engage and Scar Culture. Never slowing down, SOILWORK birthed Figure Number Five in the following year. Yet another step ahead for the Swedes, this potent piece of energetic metal led to two more massive American tours alongside acts such as Chimaira, In Flames, As I Lay Dying and Bleeding Through.
2005 saw the release of the band's sixth album Stabbing The Drama. Followed by some aggressive US touring with the likes of Fear Factory, Darkest Hour, Strapping Young Lad, Dark Tranquillity, Hypocrisy, Mnemic, Darkane, Threat Signal and highlighted by a spot on Ozzfest's second stage, the record quickly became their most successful so far. In December of 2005, in the midst of all this road warrior madness, longtime guitarist and founding member Peter Wichers left to pursue a career in producing. But nothing could stop SOILWORK's bulldozing momentum as they soldiered on with the help of a fill-in guitarist.
After some rigorous auditioning, a suitable replacement was found in the form of Dimension Zero/ Pathos guitarist Daniel Antonsson. With a strong line-up in place once again, SOILWORK began writing material for what would become their new masterpiece, Sworn To A Great Divide. Recorded at Not Quite Studio in Helsingborg, Sweden, mixed by Ola Frenning and Peter Wildoer, the band's seventh effort sounds as massive as ever. For the first time since Natural Born Chaos, Björn "Speed" Strid collaborated again with Devin Townsend for the vocal recordings, resulting in some of the most diverse vocals he ever created, and ultimately without a doubt some of the strongest material the band has ever written.
SOILWORK are a masterful incarnation, taking modern metal to the next level and thus generating a whole new genre of prolific music. Even the legendary metal god Rob Halford (Judas Priest) named them a band to watch for in the new millennium! With seven albums behind them, SOILWORK have managed to create a distinctive sound in metal, effectively building a dedicated fanbase with each successive release and displaying the accomplishments of a rigorous and persistent devotion. They prove to be the living embodiment that a propitious act can turn out to modernize the face of music.