There was a lot of hesitation from this reviewer about SOILWORK’s “The Panic Broadcast”. Despite the general hatred for SOILWORK’s Modern Metal sound that they have incorporated for the last handful of albums, many of these albums were actually pretty good if one could overlook comparing them to their early days of Melodic spiced Death Metal foundations. In fact, “Sworn To A Great Divide” was perhaps one of the best albums they have ever released even with the loss of long time guitarist and writer Peter Wichers.
Yet, the fans still clamored and whined for a return of the old. Well, those of you whom cried during the release of “Natural Born Chaos” for the loss of the SOILWORK of old, then you can start to pay attention again because the band is heading in the right direction again.
“The Panic Broadcast” isn’t the return to their roots as one might expect especially with the return of Wichers to the line up. In fact, it’s still the Modern Metal SOILWORK that they have come to be, but they have just changed a few of the focuses and added a bit more here and there to create a new sound that happens to incorporate many older tendencies.
The band still retains some of those modern elements like keyboards and nice melodic hooks, but they are far more pushed back in the music this time around. The band moves further from the more simplistic and hook oriented sound and towards an older aggressive stance that builds on layers of rhythms and sound instead. Of course, the hooks are still there with Strid’s singing and some of the guitar work (like the nice acoustic work at the end of “King Of The Threshold” leading into the melodic balanced “Let This River Flow”) they are just not a foundation for this album.
The band just seems a bit darker and more aggressive on this album. It works. At many times “The Panic Broadcast” paralleled “A Predator’s Portrait” in it’s almost midway between that older and newer SOILWORK sound. Strid mostly retains his harsh tone throughout and partnered with the insane drum work and layered and more complex riffing the band just feels more aggressive. Many times (as with the opening and very Thrashy track “Late For The Kill, Early For The Slaughter”) this album almost feels like it belongs with Strid’s side project TERROR 2000 instead of what one might expect from SOILWORK. Hell, even a more complex and a distinctly renewed focus on soloing has reappearing for the band, which is just a wonderful icing to the proverbial aggressive cake in this case.
“The Panic Broadcast” comes off as just another great release from SOILWORK. Although, I, for one, was not infuriated about their move towards Modern tendencies, this return to an older sound will make many fans happy. Although it suffers a bit from an odd and raw approach to production at times, this is a nice new (and old) path for the band to travel that will begin to appease those fans whom had given up while retaining their newer more mainstream fans too. Its just a solid balance that the band strikes and makes for another great release in 2010.
Songs to check out: “Late For The Kill, Early For The Slaughter”, “Let This River Flow”, “Two Lives Worth Of Reckoning”.
(Online August 17, 2010)