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.

Ghost Albums – Ranked! (From Worst To Best)

Ghost are a Swedish rock/heavy metal band from Linköping, Sweden, formed in 2008 by Tobias Forge. In the last decade they have become one of the most prominent names in the industry, having released four studio albums, as well as performing arena tours with the likes of Metallica.

With the new leader appointed, Papa Emeritus IV, and a new record likely around the corner in 2021, there has never been a better time to review and rank one of music’s most creative forces, as we take a closer look into their discography, ranked! From worst to best.

#4 – Prequelle (2018)

Their most recent release, at time of writing, did a lot of things right. By attempting to go in a pitch-black lyrical direction and taking influence from pop and shock rock of the 1980s, Ghost struck a confident and catchy balance of hope and gloom contrasting throughout the record.

There are some truly incredible songs on this release, including the likes of: Rats, Faith, Dance Macabre and Witch Image, but overall the complete package left a little more to be desired. Just over 40 minutes in length but featuring three interluding instrumental tracks, I can’t help but listen to this and simply wonder, ‘where’s the rest of it?’

When this album is good, it’s incredible and boasts powerful performances from Forge and his newly assembled team of touring musicians, in a few ways it just lacks the magic of what came before.

#3 – Meliora

Without question, Meliora was a record published at the height of the band’s popularity and features some of their most well known works. Forge’s Papa Emeritus III persona remains the most well realised and well loved incarnation of the character, and everything about the younger, more sexualised, frontman fit the looser pop-oriented motif of this record perfectly.

This album is a little more guitar-driven that what was found on their previous record but, for the most part, favoured catchy melodies and pop hooks than delivering on the overt Satanic premise of what came before. Monolithic efforts in rock were created here including the almighty From The Pinnacle To The Pit, haunting Luciferian love song He Is and the Grammis award winning Cirice. If the album had a little more of songs like this and not some of the filler tracks like Spirit and Majesty, then no doubt it would rank higher. It’s a crime Zenith was left on the cutting room floor.

#2 – Opus Eponymous (2010)

Let’s preface my opinion here by saying that I believe Opus Eponymous to be one of the most important rock albums of the last decade. A winning combination of Blue Oyster Cult, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple combined with a Satanic indoctrination theme melded beautifully together.

What originally began life as a song for previous rock band Magna Carta Cartel, Stand By Him, is one of the greatest classic metal songs in history, in no small part are the likes of Ritual, Elizabeth and Prime Mover far behind either.

Taking a stripped back approach to rock and roll and insidiously inserting ghastly messages into it worked to an insane degree, and Opus Eponymous benefits greatly from such a strong set of songs, immaculate production and nail-biting atmosphere.

#1 – Infestissumam (2013)

With an album name that translates directly to ‘the most hostile’ or ‘the biggest threat’, there should be no confusion over the intention of this album. Defiant to its very core in opposing the Christian religion, featuring not only the band’s darkest lyrics and imagery, but also their best songs ever written.

Ditching the classic rock elements of Opus Eponymous and instead switching out to full on old school doom metal, Ghost hit their stride with anthems like Year Zero, Monstrance Clock, Idolatrine and Secular Haze. There’s an aura of evil that permeates every second of this album, and the fact that it is this memorable and melodious in the face of that, is quite frankly astounding.

The most sinister version of the band and their leader complimented by their most sinister ethos and heaviest songs, It should be no doubt that Infestissumam takes top spot on the list.

UADA – Djinn Review

It has been a very long time since a piece of music has left me completely speechless. On their third record, UADA return to make what is not only likely to be album of the year, but potentially one of the most important records that the genre has ever been graced.

Across six songs, at just over an hour in length, the band have evolved their formula and expanded their musical horizons to include influences from all over the metal spectrum, and Djinn is all the better for it. It’s easy to see the comparisons to bands such as Mgla and Dissection in UADA’s history, and whilst that is an unfair and not entirely accurate depiction of their influences, it is overt to see that the band have far transcended their inspirations and ascended passed their aspirations totally.

UADA – Djinn (Title Track)

Djinn is a much brighter release as opposed to the duology that preceded it. Not only in the production, in which this is hands down the most well recorded and most grandiose sounding music to date, but in the song writing across the board too. Melody is the key phrase that spills out of every pinhole on this release. So many of the guitar riffs on offer here, courtesy of virtuosos Jack Superchi and Jake Sloan, are as haunting as they are gorgeously moving, in a way rarely heard in the genre.

The percussion on display largely takes a back seat with genre-staple blast beats put on the back burner in favour of a more straightforward, and climatic, mix of rock patterns, double kicks and crash/ride sequences. In the same vein, the vocals are less prominent on the record than they were on the previous instalment, though they are no less haunting, just not the main focus to building an oppressive and aggressive nature any longer.

Passionate screaming leads take centre stage across monolithic triumphs of audio, known on the record as the 13-minute epics No Place Here and, the life-affirming closing track, Between Two Worlds. The compositions throughout this hour-long experience simply defy reality and challenge the listener in more ways than one. One minute there are beautiful chorus passages, as found in abundance on The Great Mirage (particularly towards the end), and the next, haunting and pounding fierce six-string black metal brutality as demonstrated in every second of Forestless, passed a stellar dark-ambient intro.

UADA – No Place Here (One of the singles dropped before release)

When comparing Djinn to prior efforts, Devoid of Light and Cult of a Dying Sun, the changes in musical direction are night and day, but in a positive way. If UADA’s first release represents darkness as hopelessness and fear creeps in, and their sophomore effort resembles desperation and desperately clawing into that goodnight, then Djinn embodies a shred of hopefulness and optimism that pierces through the shades of blackened veil.

In other words, instrumentally this album is ever so slightly softer and less intense when compared to what came before, but I believe that this more melodic change was ultimately for the better, as the band were able to completely outshine their contemporaries and carve out a new niche to create something far more impactful, striking and important than I ever believed could come out of black metal in the modern day.

The similarities found between light and dark. A comparison of covers from UADA’s prior two albums.

In some ways the development of UADA parallels that of other American black metal bands such as Ghost Bath. The Dakota-based blackgazers started as straight forward DSBM on Funeral and then went beyond genre conventions with their darker follow up, Moonlover, much like how Cult of a Dying Sun evolved from the grimness of Devoid of Light. Ghost Bath’s third release Starmourner progressed their sound into the ethereal and the melodic in the best move they could have made at the time. So too do UADA realise their full potential on album no. 3 and it is a complete and total masterpiece in every single way. 2020 has been redeemed with the release of Djinn and I feel so fortunate to exist in a time where I can bear witness to incredible music by such talented minds.

Obsidian Kingdom – Meat Machine Review

Meat Machine is the newest album by Spanish progressive metal act Obsidian Kingdom, and comes to us courtesy of the ever prolific Season of Mist, as it is as gloriously fragmented, crazy and diverse as you could ever dream of.

With a record label that primarily focuses on black and death metal artists such as: Tsjuder, Rotting Christ, Carach Angren, Urns, Saor, Solstafir etc. It’s a nice change of pace to experience something as vividly lucid and violently resistant to categorization. Obsidian Kingdom have always been a band that refuse to play into genre conventions and confine themselves to any one aspect of metal music, and I feel that on Meat Machine, they have perhaps hit the full apex of their stride.

In other words, this album is gleefully all over the place, in the best way possible. Upon first viewing, tracks such as The Pump and Mr Pan stuck out for their gorgeous amalgamation of harsh and clean vocals coupled with thick industrial guitars that are reminiscent of acts like Deftones and Voivod in their experimental nature and precipice cascading between the mellow and the verbose.

Obsidian Kingdom – Meat Star

Post-rock elements and extensive use of moody synthesizers are everywhere on tracks such as Flesh World and Naked Politics. The former continuing with stunning female clean vocals performed by Jade Riot Cul as the soft nature of her almost angelic highs recede into a thick Spanish accent as dreamlike shoegaze inspired guitars rise and fall over alternating low toms and punchy snare drums. It is unlike anything I have ever heard before, but it’s safe to say that after a few listens of being outside of my comfort zone here, I found myself unable to escape the entrancing force of all these different moving parts colliding together.

Not to say that there are no moments of heaviness on display here. Meat Star melds the aforementioned post-rock elements with groovy screaming lead and powerful screams by guitarist/vocalist Rider G Omega. There are moments on this release that call my mind recent efforts by Japanese metal band Dir En Grey, their prowess in genre-melding and abstract attitude to making music.

Production wise this record is an audible marvel. It is extremely clean sounding with the percussion being a particular strong point here. The drums sound powerful and are used just the right amount to accent the eccentricities of the guitars, whilst also allowing space for the soaring male/female vocals to weave in as and when necessary. It is without a doubt one of the nicest sounding albums I have heard in a long time in terms of clarity.

Obsidian Kingdom – The Pump.

My favourite song from the record is A Foe. It is a slow yet building ballad of singing and spoken word over beautiful acoustic guitar and dynamic piano that help the listener reflect on everything they have just bore witness to. Without mincing words or wasting time, it is an alluring few minutes that culminate into an eerie atmosphere as low toms belt out heavy as earthquakes. This was the moment I fell in love with the release.

The weirder parts of Meat Machine are going to be what keep people coming back to this album. It would be amiss of me to openly divulge everything in a written review though. This is a record that you need to hear yourself to truly appreciate it. I think it is going to be one that people either love or may get lost within, in my opinion, it is well worth the risk either way. This album was my introduction to the band, and I can confidently say that not only will I be experiencing their back catalogue as soon as possible, but actively listening out to what they do next in the future.

Slayer Albums – Ranked! (From Worst To Best)

Slayer were a prolific thrash metal band from LA County, California. The original lineup consisted of guitarists Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman (RIP 2013) vocalist/bassist Tom Araya and drummer Dave Lombardo. Paul Bostaph would later replace Lombardo for duties behind the kit, Exodus’ Gary Holt would carry the legacy of Hanneman after his death.

Covering almost four full decades across eleven studio albums, it’s impossible not to mention important heavy metal music without Slayer’s name passing your lips, with no need for any further introduction, let’s take a closer look at the band’s extensive history, ranked!

#11 – Repentless (2015)

Slayer’s final album as a band and one that gets a lot of negative attention for reasons both deserved and not. Repentless was an album written lyrically by Kerry King, one of the only times that he had sole songwriting credit on a record, as primarily it would be the double act of King and Hanneman, and it’s safe to say that the writing here is the weakest in their history.

Musically Repentless plays it very safe but there are some highlights that elevate the material higher than you would expect from the stigma stuck to the album. The title track and Pride and Prejudice are great examples of aggression and that classic ruthless nature of the band’s earlier spirit. However, there are a lot of filler tracks and songs in the list that do absolutely nothing but diminish the legacy violently, to just being plain boring and passe. See: Implode, Take Control or Piano Wire for instance.

Does that make Repentless lazy or by the numbers? Maybe.
Arguably this is a record that Slayer shouldn’t have even made according to many fans, It’s clear that listening to it that the omission of Hanneman’s input is sorely missed, may he rest in peace.

#10 – World Painted Blood (2009)

No sanctuary. World Painted Blood is a completely fine album with no real high points or obvious lows. The title track itself is a great time, but it’s a struggle to commit much more to memory from this 2009 effort. The musicianship is completely fine, vocals are good. It is business as usual, almost like the band are on autopilot, and that’s the reason this album ranks so low compared to some of their riskier efforts that we will get to later down the list.

#9 – Diabolus In Musica (1998)

Slayer go nu-metal and it was something that probably should never have happened but this record yielded some surprising diamonds amongst a lot of rough. For the most part, it doesn’t work. Though, Diabolus In Musica’s strong suit came in its oppressive atmosphere and the grinding and fierce nature of tracks such as Stain of Mind and In The Name of God.

The latter song especially has such a slick and sublime opening with a rioting, thick chugging guitar pulsating into a vile eruption of powerful snarls from frontman Tom Araya over that stunning infectious main riff. These kind of moments are peppered all throughout Diabolus In Musica, that seductive groove just rocks so fucking hard that it’s impossible to resist, hence why I can’t rank the record any lower.

#8 – Divine Intervention (1994)

What more can really be said about Divine Intervention apart from the fact that it’s Slayer’s sixth album? That may sound reductionist but hear me out. How the fuck do you follow up genre masterpieces from the late 80s such as: Hell Awaits, Reign In Blood and South of Heaven? It seems the answer with this record was simple, replace Lombardo behind the kit and try and speed up a little following Seasons In The Abyss infatuation with everything slow and heavy.

By no means a bad record, Divine Intervention just seems a little underwhelming when compared to the wealth of records that came before it and had large boots to fill. There is a lot to love here: The Killing Fields, 213 and Fictional Reality are incredible songs in and of themselves, but do they really match the heights of their predecessors alone? Not really. This album just didn’t do enough different to stand out in a positive or risky way.

#7 – God Hates Us All (2001)

Here’s where things get fucking controversial. Before I’m dragged out into the streets by raving fans and hogtied to the railway tracks, let me try to justify this entry for you. There’s a reason why songs like Payback and Disciple remained live staples for the band even when this record seemed to underperform critically and commercially, because they are powerful, aggressive and catchy as all hell tracks.

From the chanting chorus on the latter, to the formidable way that War Zone seems to entrance you into fighting an entire army bare handed (especially that opening riff) God Hates Us All remains to be Slayer’s most underrated album that they have ever produced. There is so much that is stellar about this one, it sounds grandiose and overpoweringly omnipresent with a modern touch that differentiates itself from Slayer’s early work.

#6 – Christ Illusion (2006)

With their tenth album, Slayer somehow managed to channel their unholy powers into creating a record that touched on elements of not only Seasons In The Abyss but the groovier parts of God Hates Us All too, whilst still harkening back to their roots all at once.

Jihad is a phenomenal that fits the description above in every respect. The slow acoustic intro leading into that thundering rhythm guitar main riff and mesmerising guitar solo. It sounds completely and utterly massive. Look no further than Skeleton Christ if you’re in any doubt that Slayer can’t make you fucking move on this record, it may sound simple musically, but it’s heavy as all sin and it is one of my personal go-tos when the band’s name is mentioned in conversation. Goes without saying that Araya shouting ‘Hail Satan’ is an absolute win too.

#5 – Seasons In The Abyss (1990)

Slayer started the new decade revitalized with this masterclass in pacing, progression and power oozing from every pore of this disgusting beast. As mentioned above, this was the album that the boys took a different approach on compared to their 80s efforts, slowing down and being more atmospheric and sinister in a way that paid off greatly.

Seasons In The Abyss is now thirty years old but stands the test of time beautifully for its simply flawless lineup of incredible songs. Choose literally anything featured on this record and you’re in for a winner. There are no low points, I have virtually nothing bad to say about Seasons and that’s because with outstanding tracks like: Dead Skin Mask, War Ensemble, Expendable Youth, Hallowed Point and Born of Fire, how could I?

That’s simply the caliber of the material that we’re dealing with here from this point on. Really, consider everything onwards as effectively completely interchangeable with one another. This is the Grade A stuff.

#4 – Reign In Blood (1986)

Widely considered by many to Slayer’s most brutal album, if not the most savage record ever at the time, what can I really add to the conservation about Reign In Blood that hasn’t already been said? It’s been dissected to death over the last three decades and for good reason, it’s one of if not the great thrash metal albums ever forged.

From the chilling album art to songs about Joseph Mengele (Angel of Death) and that unstoppable all-time classic Raining Blood, there’s frankly nothing new I can say, so what’s the point in trying? It’s Reign In Blood and it’s amazing, but you already knew that.

#3 – South of Heaven (1988)

South of Heaven was the fourth record that the band put out following a two year absence from Reign In Blood, and that time was used to strip back and refine their core sound into something darkly magical.

It might not be as immediately overt as the likes of what came before but the more primal yet controlled rage from Tom Araya and the steady, trance-like drumming from Lombardo are arguably a career best to this day. This record contains some of the most well written songs in the band’s history, included but not limited to: Behind The Crooked Cross, Ghosts of War and Cleanse The Soul.

Heaven feels like the culmination of their classic sound. It is not as violent as later entries, and it shares more in common with speed/heavy metal than the gut wrenching thrash it would later inspire, as it stands though with an album as well made as this, I can’t help but love every single second.

#2 – Show No Mercy (1983)

A bonafide classic for the ages to be sure. The original and many would say the best. A rare case where the origins of how this album came to be is nearly as interesting as the end result itself. Show No Mercy is an institution and it changed the face of not only thrash metal but shook the landscapes of the music world and pop culture for decades, even to this very moment in time.

Containing the almighty Die By The Sword, the spellbinding Black Magic and the insidious Evil Has No Boundaries, among others. I find myself often unabashedly praising this release almost every time the topic of metal music is brought up in any regard. Here was a record that single-handedly birthed so many genres and inspired so many generations of musicians across the world, it’s unbeatable.

#1 – Hell Awaits (1985)

Take everything that I’ve just said about Show No Mercy and amplify it by a million. Whilst Slayer’s debut is a landmark victory in music to be sure, their true prowess was unleashed masterfully in their sophomore record Hell Awaits.

Cast your mind back to the year 1985 and what were the hottest heavy metal records releasing at the time? Sure, there were strong efforts by the likes of Saxon, Exodus, Celtic Frost and Possessed, but there was nothing that matched the face melting speed or scorching brutality of Hell Awaits.

This was the album where Slayer shed their NWOBHM skin and struck out on their own with something incontestable, in every sense of the word an unadulterated monolith of sound that would not be caged or rivalled by mortal man. On a less hyperbolic note however, the track list is simply marvellous and nails everything you could ever possibly want in a heavy metal/thrash record from the surreptitious villainy of Necrophiliac, to the incinerating guitar solo of At Dawn They Sleep and beyond.

Slayer were and always will be an incredible band and a shining example of music as art. Sure, they had their missteps over the decades, but I would be remiss to deny them their rights as an irresistible force of nature. They will be missed, but they left one hell of a legacy!