This is a very interesting oddity. I thought I owned everything by Soilwork but I hadn’t taken account of the extra tracks, which were added to the Japanese release of “Stabbing the Drama” (2005), “Sworn to a Great Divide” (2007), “The Panic Broadcast” (2010), “The Ride Majestic” (2015) nor of the EP “Beyond the Infinite” (2014), which was released only in Asia and is here played in full. So “Death Resonance” is not the usual collection of grainy rarities from the 1990s. I never understand why Japanese editions have different tracks from the European or US versions, so I guess I was now about to find out. Lead man Björn Speed Strid gives an explanation for the title of this album, namely that it’s a link between life and death, and between past, present and future. This seems a bit convoluted as I can’t imagine that in 2005 it was envisaged that all the Japanese tracks would be collated eleven years later, let alone need a title. Oh, well. But it’s the music that counts, so let’s play.
In fact the first two tracks are new ones. “Helsinki” gets us into the mood with a classic Soilwork song – fast, hard, fluent, melodic and with clean harmonies. There’s something comforting about Soilwork songs. The title track, which follows, is aggressive and heavy and shakes us around a bit, but the pattering drum, crunchy guitar line and epic chorus sweep us up and lift us away. The first bonus track “The End Begins Below the Surface” from “The Ride Majestic” is a rather heavy nonentity, reminiscent of early Soilwork but sounding incomplete. Then comes the intriguing “Beyond the Infinite” quintet of tracks. This is more like it – the familiar clean sound, something to headbang to and Strid leading the thrashing army. “My Nerves, Your Everyday Tool” has that rich mix of aggression, instrumental patterns and accessibility, which make Soilwork so good. “These Absent Eyes” is pure adrenaline and joy in a melodically thrashing sense – the blazing intro and recurrent riff reminded me a lot of the track “Stabbing the Drama”. “Resisting the Current” has a nice and atypical and interesting light passage mid-track but doesn’t have a lot else going for it, but the new tracks and this EP collection make this album worth listening to. The melody and turbo-charged energy of “When Sound Collides” are irresistible. There are signs of the adventure and progression in sound style, which marked “The Living Infinite” album (2013). “Forever Lost in Vain”, which is the final song of the EP collection, has a typically bouncy and catchy melody, while retaining a rich and even heart-warming instrumental mixture.
After the exhilaration of the EP and the new songs which preceded it, the second half of this release consists of Asian bonus tracks. Of course it’s Soilwork so all that melodic aggression is there. One could never accuse them of toning down the adrenaline level. “Sadistic Lullabye” is like a hefty sugar rush. It’s not however one of those extravagant Soilwork tracks that hits me and makes me want to join in. We then move onto three 2016 mixes of bonus songs off “Sworn to a Great Divide”, one from “Sworn to a Great Divide” and two from “Stabbing the Drama”. I had heard “Martyr”, a bonus song on my copy of “Sworn to a Great Divide” and a cracker of a bouncy track, which for me was an integral part of the album. It’s an interesting mix – slowed down and mellowed, but not so much to lose its excitement and vivaciousness. It was great to hear it again. The same applies to “Wherever, Thorns May Grow”, another jewel added to my copy of “Stabbing the Drama” in its day and now re-worked. The sheer quality of the song and fusion of elements shines through. The other 2016 mixes of hitherto unknown tracks didn’t have the same special qualities and whilst by no means bad, didn’t have the togetherness and for me fell short of the high mark which Soilwork achieve on their albums.
There’s plenty here and it’s all got the recognisable Soilwork energy. Over the course of their ten releases to the latest one “The Ride Majestic”, there has been a noticeable attempt to spread their wings while not losing the trademark electric atmospheres, melodies and contrast between aggression and harmony. The bonus tracks paid homage to the Soilwork values but didn’t have those rousing extra touches, which the band’s best tracks have. On the other hand, it was great to hear “Martyr” and “Wherever, Thorns May Grow” again, “Helsinki” is a special song and the “Beyond the Infinite” EP captures the impressive expanse that this band is capable of, so there are plenty of sizzling highlights on this compilation.
(8/10 Andrew Doherty)
8 / 10