The Panic Broadcast (Nuclear Blast)
By Mike Delano
The new Soilwork album is definitely a grower. At first listen, it just sounds confused, with the majority of the tracks sounding either too jumbled and unfocused or, at the other end of the spectrum, indulging too heavily in their trademark melodramatic choruses that at times unflatteringly highlight some cringe-worthy lyrics. Just give it time, though, and The Panic Broadcast reveals itself to be a great record, sitting comfortably alongside the Swedes’ last few albums, but not matching the sustained brilliance of their 2002 high water mark, Natural Born Chaos. “Two Lives Worth of Reckoning” ranks among the band’s best songs, a fully realized representation of the band’s strengths with immediately memorable riffs, solos, and a larger-than-life chorus. Vocalist Björn “Speed” Strid sounds like he’s having more fun than ever on “Deliverance is Mine,” and the back-to-back slow burn of “Epitome” and “The Akuma Afterglow” display a confidence with mid-tempo arrangements that almost all of their peers completely lack. Time doesn’t improve everything here, though: “Late for the Kill, Early for the Slaughter,” despite its fine Manowar-reject song title, is an overly busy barrage with a meager hook, and the bland arrangements of “Night Comes Clean” and “Let This River Flow” don’t make it any easier to overlook their syrupy choruses.