Soilwork Albums – Ranked! (From Worst to Best)

Soilwork are a metal band from Helsigborn, Sweden. Their current lineup consists of vocalist Bjorn ‘Speed’ Strid, guitarists David Andersson and Sylvian Coudrat, as well as Sven Karlsson on keyboards and drummer Bastian Thusgaard.

With the band’s new, EP A Whisp of the Atlantic, released earlier this month, the time has never been better to take a deep dive into the band’s diverse history, as we rank every main Soilwork record.

#11 – Verklighten (2019)

Let’s start things off by saying that I do really enjoy this album. It’s beautifully produced and features some catchy hooks, though it’s too light and airy for my tastes, ultimately lacking the emotion and impact that I have come to expect from Soilwork.

Arrival and When the Universe Spoke are two incredible tracks, but so much on Verklighten leaves a lot to be desired. It’s clear just how much of an impact Strid’s side band, The Night Flight Orchestra, has had on his songwriting, there’s a lot of crossover. I actually prefer NFO to Soilwork ironically, though that does not sway my mind.

#10 – Sworn to a Great Divide (2007)

It’s unfortunate to phrase something so harshly, but there’s no other way to say it. The 2000s were dominated by Soilwork largely phoning in their performances, and it shows.

Great Divide has some good songs on offer, the title track and Your Beloved Scapegoat being great examples. It doesn’t negate the fact that this album is thoroughly unmemorable. I have been a fan of the band for many years, and I never revisit this one. Divide avoids bottom place as at least it’s heavy enough to keep my attention.

#9 – Figure Number Five (2003)

Here’s where I’m torn. I find this album as a whole to blend together into a haze of forgettable white noise for the most part. Contrast this stance, however, with the fact that two of my favourite Soilwork songs Rejection Role and Distortion Sleep are on the tracklist.

If anything, that makes the disappointment of this album sting worse. Imagine if the songwriting quality was that consistent across the board, I would be singing a different tune for sure. As it stands No. 5 really let me down.

#8 – The Panic Broadcast (2010)

In an effort to break away from their established formula, Soilwork’s 2010 album tries to do a lot of different things, and it was certainly a step in the right direction that should be commended.

Deliverance and The Thrill brought back the reckless and relentless edge, as heard on the band’s early work, where Let This River Flow successfully melded acoustic guitars and sweeping melodies with the rich ballad inspired highs of Strid’s singing voice. There’s variety here, it’s not as predictable or safe.

#7 – Stabbing the Drama (2005)

Following directly after Figure Number 5, Stabbing the Drama is an album that knows what it wants to be and makes for comfortable listening.

A similar story with the predecessor, Drama features some very strong songs, namely the title track and Nerve, two tracks that are still live staples to this day, and for good reason.

The rest of the record tends to feel unremarkable. It has its moments for sure, but is unlikely to wow on first listen. I have a comfortable nostalgia for Drama, and yet I cannot be deterred.

#6 – A Predator’s Portrait (2001)

Perhaps the darkest album of their discography, Soilwork combines lofty ambitions with powerful songwriting to create a record with a razor sharp touch.

Grand Failure Anthem, Like the Average Stalker and Bastard Chain are highlights on this release. All three are fast, brutal and punchy, never outstaying their welcome. That’s what I appreciate so much about this album, it says what it needs to and wastes no time in going straight for the throat.

#5 – Natural Born Chaos (2002)

Shifting gears away from the more straightforward melodeath sound of the trilogy of albums that proceeded it, Natural Born Chaos introduced many elements that would later go onto define the modem Soilwork sound.

Songs included acoustic guitar and a heavier use of synthesisers, with Bjorn utilising his singing voice more proactively than before. No More Angels, Follow the Hollow and Black Star Deceiver stand far and away my favourites from Natural Born Chaos, and illustrate exactly how special this sound was, whilst also condemning the band too in the near future.

#4 – The Ride Majestic (2015)

A very strong album that unfortunately had massive shoes to fill. The previous album was a landmark in metal music, we’ll get to it momentarily, though for all that The Ride Majestic gets right, it can’t help but linger in the shadow of what came before.

I genuinely love every song on this album with highlights including that of the title track, Death In General, Whirl of Pain and Petrichor by Sulphur. I remember the day this record dropped, I couldn’t stop listening to it. Definitely one of Soilwork’s most overlooked albums, and that’s a shame.

#3 – The Chainheart Machine (2000)

Everything you could ever want from melodic death metal. The Chainheart Machine is unforgiving in its aggression and speed, here Bjorn Strid really does get to live up to his namesake.

Possessing the Angels and Machine Gun Majesty are fiercely fast melodeath tracks that cut straight through to your very core. Bulletbeast is an all-out assault on the senses, in the best way possible. If I was to mark this album down for anything, it would be the production. This album is a product of its time, with guitars a little too buried in the mix, and the tones omitted a little thin for my liking. Still, very minor issues.

#2 – Steelbath Suicide (1998)

As with The Chainheart Machine, and at the risk of repeating myself, I ask you, what more could you possibly want out of melodic death metal?

It’s all here. The guitar riffs are polemic, Strid sounds the best he ever did with his harsh vocals and the impressive pace of it all never waivers for long. At just over 35 minutes in length, Steelbath Suicide manages to be equal parts memorable and influential, especially impressive for a debut following in the wake of Dark Tranquillity, In Flames and other melodeath greats emerging from the country at the time.

#1 – The Living Infinite (2013)

Was there ever any doubt? At nearly an hour and a half in length, across 20 songs, it’s a testament to Soilwork’s creativity and talent when I tell you that every single song on this album is phenomenal.

Performances across the board are immaculate too. The band strike a considered balance of melody, choruses and strong riffs that all have their place on this monolithic double album.

It’s challenging to know how to nail it down specifically. My best advice I can offer is just to listen to it in its entirety. I remember when this album launched, I was overjoyed as I realised that Soilwork had not only redeemed themselves for previous efforts, but completely innovated too.

If you’re looking for a place to start with this album, might I recommend The Windswept Mercy, Tongue, Leech, and This Momentary Bliss. It’s rare for a band to be putting out their best material decades after a debut, but even more so to change an entire genre so vividly. I am aware of how negative I may have come across in this article, just know that my critiques come from a place of love and understanding. I’ve seen them over five times, even the low ranked material is worth spinning at least once, I just hope we get more in the vein of this album, and less bleeding through from other bands in the future.


In Flames Albums – Ranked! (From Worst to Best)

In Flames are a Swedish metal band from Gothenburg who, along with bands such as At The Gates and Dark Tranquillity, helped to pioneer what is now known as Melodic Death Metal, and more specifically, the Gothenburg scene. In Flames was initially formed by Jesper Stromblad in 1990, in hopes to combine the melodic elements heavy metal bands like Iron Maiden with the crushing brutality of death metal such as Entombed and Dismember.

Now almost three decades on, featuring a multitude of line-up changes, stylistic evolution and the departure of Stromblad in 2010, the band is a much different beast to what it was when first created.

To usher in the release of album thirteen I, The Mask in March and without any more delay or introduction, here are what I believe to be the best and worst of In Flames.

#13 – Battles (2016)

This is an album I am quite torn on as I do genuinely enjoy songs from the record, in particular the bonus tracks/ lesser known songs Greatest Greed and Us Against The World. Battles suffered from muted production, unfortunate overuse of a child choir (heard on songs The End and The Truth mainly whilst being peppered in as sampling on other songs) and was seemingly trying to appeal to a younger demographic as a result. That said, there are good riffs there, and when Anders does decide to growl his voice can still make even the most hardened man tremble and shudder. It is a shame that this was the record to make people almost want to entirely write off the band, it did not help that they made the mistake of touring alongside Five Finger Death Punch and Of Mice and Men during the album cycle. An album with standout moments as heard on Wallflower, The End, Through My Eyes and the previous songs mentioned, Battles was a learning experience which should be amended with I, The Mask coming out later this year. If the three singles are anything to go by, (This is Our) House withstanding, then Battles should be moved on from in stride in search of something stronger.


#12 – Siren Charms (2014)

I genuinely have a large tattoo of the cover to this album on my shoulder, I do have a soft spot for it as an alternative metal/rock album but with that said, Siren Charms leaves a lot to be desired unless you know what you are in for. It took literal years for this release to grow on me as it has; the cold and slow approach to the brooding dark synth, interlaced melancholic guitar riffs and lead performances make this album a definite standout in the band’s storied discography. The biggest pill to swallow is that it’s a Sony produced disk, the only one of it’s kind to the band’s name and understandably dials back on the aggression and more heavy elements to their sound in favour of something a lot more accessible. It’s a rock album at heart that occasionally features the odd chug-a-long riffing pattern or growl here and there, but it beats to a different drum than anything else. An extremely divisive yet I believe underrated album in the field of rock, if it was any other band who made this and not In Flames then who knows? Maybe people would have given it a pass or even loved it.

Siren Charms

#11 – I, The Mask (2019)

I have written a lengthy review for this record on this very site, take a look at our reviews tab in the top bar menu for more, however I will quickly summarise the record’s place here on the list in some new and exciting words.

I, The Mask starts off incredibly strongly. The first five songs are absolutely incredible and gave off the vibe on first listen that this would be the album to bridge the gap between the lost 2000s melodeath/melodic metalcore sound and their contemporary sound. However, the record starts to lose momentum with the frankly awful track (This is Our) House. Whenever I listen to the album I just cannot bring myself to hear that song all the way, it is the only In Flames song out of their entire discography that I skip.

The last half of the album features a lot of clean vocals and songs that are more bright and pop orientated with the exception of Burn which almost gets things back on track. Again, if the whole album had the aggression and the fire of songs like:I Am Above, Voices, Call My Name and the title track then I would be singing a different tune. I am not disappointed or let down but I feel that it would have only taken that little bit more to make this album stand out as the best of the modern era. As it stands I, The Mask, whilst coming so close, misses that mark ever so slightly.

Ithe mask

#10 – Sounds of a Playground Fading (2011)

I also have a massive tattoo of the album cover, this time on my right forearm. Perhaps the most challenging of all albums for the band to create, Fading was the first release they released after the departure of creator, guitarist and spearhead Jesper Stromblad. His influence is definitely missed in places, however I think that all considered, they did an incredible job pulling everything around despite the jarring omission of Stromblad’s absence. Songs such as Dead Ships Dwell, Deliver Us, Darker Times, Fear is the Weakness and especially A New Dawn, helped to cement a new identity for a band without direction. Dark, melancholic, dreary and dripping in cold, damp atmosphere, whilst it may be a little cleaner and lighter in places, I believe the brevity only serves to highlight the darkness.


#9 – Reroute to Remain (2002)

It was no easy feat following up 2000’s landmark album Clayman (more on that release later) however, In Flames decided to take a new route when it came to their sixth album. Remain features a much heavier use of synths, more modern guitar production as well as riffs that blend through different genres. Anders’ clean vocals never sounded better and his fried screams are still as powerful as ever, though overall, despite many solid songs, this album felt like a transitional one ultimately bridging the gap between what would eventually be known as the two major distinct eras for the band.


#8 – Come Clarity (2006)

This was my first exposure to the band like many people, with the pulse pounding track Take This Life. Let it be known that I love this album and believe that the highs found here; title track, Crawl Through Knives, Leeches and the duet Dead End, far bolster this album to a new level among their mid era releases. The production is razor sharp, it’s very catchy, very heavy and blends together their older melodic death metal sound with the modern metal / metalcore approach following Reroute to Remain. The reason it doesn’t rank higher on my list is despite many of the songs being incredible, there are a couple songs which whilst not bad, seem like filler.


#7 – A Sense of Purpose (2008)

The last album to feature Jesper Stromblad spearheading guitar duties and its safe to say that he left the band out with a bang. Whilst this record can be seen as somewhat divided by fans and the metal community, I can’t help but love every single track to be found here. This was the first In Flames album that I truly well in love with and for great reason, namely huge sweeping catchy choruses and amazing guitar riffs. Even after hundreds of times of hearing songs like; Alias, Delights and Angers, Move Through Me and the emotional gut-punch of The Chosen Pessimist, they never grow old on me. There’s something about the whole motif of The Owl Boy, what the album itself represents and the melancholic story told throughout that takes hold and never lets go. It might not be as raw or angry as Come Clarity but as I listen to both back to back, this album stays more in my mind.


#6 – Soundtrack To Your Escape (2004)

Without a doubt In Flames’ darkest album, Soundtrack can be overwhelming and draining at times but is what I believe to be the band’s most underrated album. The synths return from Reroute but with a much darker edge, the guitars once again blend in that chugging heavy style with a nu-metal/metalcore riff style. It’s a very modern album that plays to the strengths of the band being ushered through into the new millennium. Everything that made the band what they were is here in spades, the huge choruses, the aggressive vocal performances and the riffs that get stuck in your head. For one, It’s one of their best produced albums too, everything is balanced beautifully and the drums especially never sounded as good or since. I don’t believe this release to be for everyone, but if you can look passed nu-metal influences of the time, there’s something very special here.


#5 – Lunar Strain (1993)

The first album released by a young band finding their footing in the scene, Lunar Strain is a monumental landmark in Swedish death metal. The story behind the album itself is very interesting, the band essentially made a demo then lied they had a full release out to get on a label, and this shows. For the album itself; there’s some of the most iconic songs of the time; Clad in Shadows, Upon an Oaken Throne, Starforsaken and especially Behind Space. For as much as I adore this album I feel like ranking it any higher just isn’t fair. This was a completely different lineup, instead of Anders on vocals we had Dark Tranquillity’s Mikael Stanne and Glenn Ljungström taking on dueling guitar duties alongside Jesper Stromblad.


#4 – Whoracle (1997)

Yet another album cover that I have tattooed on my arm, What felt like the perfect successor to 1995’s The Jester Race, Whoracle continues down the bold path and etches in more lines into the quintessential blueprint of melodic death metal. The riffs on offer here are just as catchy and heavy as the predecessor, and the guitar work is even more complex as it became the centerpiece and main focus on the album. Whoracle bleeds confidence where Jester Race felt like they had something to prove. This release shows a band pour everything they have into crafting music they love, whilst almost single-handedly writing the playbook on the genre themselves. It’s everything that you could want from melodic death metal and its executed masterfully, though once again like on Come Clarity, there are filler songs that knock the experience a little, namely; Morphing Into Primal and Worlds Within the Margin. A small setback like that doesn’t take away from the fact that this is a near flawless record worthy of acclaim.


#3 – The Jester Race (1995)

This album is perfect. From this point on the rankings genuinely become entirely up to a small preference in themes and approach. The Jester Race has some of the greatest riffs ever heard in heavy metal, featuring the incredible vocal debut of Anders Friden delivering some of the best growls of his career. Every song is phenomenal and there isn’t a moment wasted on what is a tightly focused and passionate release. Clocking in at just over 40 minutes, The Jester Race is an outstanding display of the best riffs that Swedish death metal has to offer; Lord Hypnos, Dead Eternity, title track, Artifacts of the Black Rain, Moonshield etc. There isn’t much to say that hasn’t already been said but hundreds if not thousands of people over the last twenty-five years. Listen to it.


#2 – Clayman

Again let me reinstate that the last half of this list ranking are entirely equal in my mind and this album comes down to preference. Clayman once again shows off amazing riffs, incredible vocals and is something you could once again spin cover-to-cover endlessly. Where I think Clayman wins out ever so slightly is in the choruses, Clayman is just that little bit more catchy and features songs and moments that in my mind are a little more memorable. Everything from the opening seconds of Bullet Ride, perfectly setting the scene for the album to come, to the ending few chords of Another Day in Quicksand and everything in between. Not to mention the iconic Only For The Weak and title track or the earworm of Pinball Map. I could talk about this album for hours, you can’t beat this record, well almost.


#1 – Colony

This is the gold standard not only for melodic death metal but metal music as a whole. Colony refines and then redefines what melodeath is and what can be expected from the genre. Every song is a powerhouse and it’s a testament to what can be achieved when building on the framework created by a band which invented its own sound. All that was good about The Jester Race, the developed guitar work and confidence of Whoracle too came to define the perfect album. In their own ways, they are all unstoppable titans of their field though. If Jester Race represents the end of an age then Colony is the resurrection.


With Anders recently saying in a live show, ‘If you like Colony, you’ll love I, The Mask’ then hopes are high for what In Flames’ newest album has in store. Whilst not everything has been perfect, some albums being a lot better than others, It’s all a journey, and sometimes there are risks that need to be taken to find yourself again throughout the times. I’ve been a fan for as long as I can remember, and for good reason. Let’s see what the band has to deliver for us in a few mere weeks.

Aleksha with In Flames

Soilwork – Verkligheten Album Review

Swedish melodic metallers return for a solid, if inconsistent, neon soaked inspired journey through a retro backdrop.

Verkligheten (Translated from Swedish meaning ‘Reality’) marks the longest duration between major releases in the band’s history, a gap of just over three and a half years, following on from 2015’s The Ride Majestic. In that time, frontman and vocalist Bjorn ‘Speed’ Strid, released three albums under his classic rock project, The Night Flight Orchestra, and it is clear that the influence shows and the lines between the two bands begin to blur.

The album starts with a beautiful and uplifting, but brief, instrumental synth piece leading in to arguably the album’s best song, Arrival. This was the first single to be released alongside the announcement of a new tour, and the album cycle release and it set the bar for a high standard. Right away, the soaring lead playing and bright upbeat energy of David and Slyvain’s masterful guitar playing, coupled with the powerful blast beats of album newcomer drummer Bastian Thusgaard set up Bjorn’s charging growls excellently from beginning to end. Bjorn, as ever sounds amazing.

Arrival was the barrier to entry as far as I was concerned and I become somewhat worried with the release of the two other singles that followed, Full Moon Schoals and Stålfågel. These two songs represent a progression to a tamer but tighter focus on the main chorus hooks as opposed to the rest of the song, where the intros in both of these tracks, coupled with verses, felt like a means to an end rather than the main event.

That said, both of these songs feature ear-worm choruses that sound big, anthemic and are among some of the biggest highs on the album that are bursting with passion and feeling. This is however where the album begins to show its biggest weakness, and in short, it is the fact that the beginning being so promising only sets up the middle portion to ultimately fall behind as a result.

The mid portion of the album, largely spanning the length between tracks; When the Universe Spoke and Witan, in my opinion blend together in a way that makes them hard to distinguish and analyse entirely on their own. When every song on this release features a stellar chorus that bolsters them from being average, it can be hard to get too excited about Soilwork just going through the motions and playing to their formula strengths a little too closely to their chest.

It is the last few songs here that not only excite and invigorate, but also serve to essentially pump a breath of life into an album which would otherwise feel too long and too samey for the sake of it. The Ageless Whisper and Needles and Kin are classic Soilwork to a tee, benefiting from that fresh gleam of paint and their cleaner production as of late. It makes me wish that we got more songs here that played to the unique strengths of the band’s more memorable elements rather than seemingly flying through on auto-pilot.

I mentioned The Night Flight Orchestra earlier, and the amount of albums released in such a short time, because there is clear NFO influence bleeding through into Soilwork here. I for one am a massive fan of both bands, however I feel that in removing some of the grit and sharp edge to the guitar tone, the impact of some of the riffs is diminished in places. It’s very clean, almost to a sterile shine that, whilst fitting in astoundingly well with Bjorn’s angelic and moving clean vocals, unfortunately weakens the power and effect of his growls and harsh vocal performance.

What we have as a result is a fun, enjoyable album that does not quite reach the heights of what I believe to be their finest hour, 2013’s double album The Living Infinite, or is it as aggressive or dark as their previous album, 2015’s The Ride Majestic. Soilwork are a band that have carved out an identity all their own, it seems in trying to shake up their tried and true formula, they may have sacrificed some of their core as a result.

I read one review saying that this would be the darkest and most epic Soilwork album ever written, and whilst I can see where they are coming from, I cannot compare Verkligheten’s themes, instrumentals etc. to prior works like The Chainheart Machine, Stabbing The Drama or A Predator’s Portrait, at least when it comes to what to expect.

This is a newly refined and hungry version of Soilwork, adapting and learning from years of outside influence and once again carving out their own path as they forge ahead anew. This album takes risks and simultaneously takes it safe in places, however you can never move forward and make progress without a little trial and error. In conclusion, this is a catchy, fun and heavy album that does just enough to carry through its lengthy fifty minute run-time whilst losing a little identity in the progress, and the band’s bravery should be commanded. Sail on Soilwork, sail on!