Sworn to a Great Divide

Sworn to a Great Divide

by Soilwork


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Sworn to a Great Divide

First off, this is not -- as was heavily blog-rumored to be -- the awaited, perhaps even expected, second chapter in the Natural Born Chaos legacy that was Soilwork's first deep etching in the death metal book of the damned. It sounds nothing like that record, despite the speculation all over the Internet that it would even be titled Natural Born Chaos II. Secondly, Devin Townsend did not produce this set (though apparently he was the desired first choice); he only produced the vocals because of other commitments. Thirdly, Peter Wichers left in 2005; he was the architect of the sound on the 2002 classic. Daniel Antonsson recently replaced him, and Ola Frenning wrote most -- if not all -- the guitar parts. Sworn to a Great Divide feels like the natural extension of Soilwork recordings like Stabbing the Drama. That big, nearly orchestral sound dilutes the heaviness that was so inherent to Natural Born Chaos. That said, there is absolutely nothing to complain about on Sworn to a Great Divide -- the melodic hardcore/death metal hybrid is ever-present and as a singer, Björn Strid has never sounded better. When he sings, he really sings; when he growls, he gets downright ugly. Check out "The Pittsburgh Syndrome," one of the heaviest cuts on the set. It clocks in at 2:46, but it simply cranks its guitar riffs against those drums and Strid is high in the mix, sounding almost more like another instrument than a vocalist. But even here, the anthemic chorus, with its killer backing harmony vocals, takes Soilwork beyond most of their Swedish peers. These cats understand that writing riffs is de rigueur, but writing an infectious way of hooking that riff to melody is the thing that attracts rather than repels. The slowly building tension in "Light Discovering Darkness" is like a harder version of the kind of music Katatonia have been making in recent years, but more on the melodic pink metal tip than Pink Floyd. "20 More Miles" digs deeper into the thrashing frenzy of death metal to a certain degree, as does the opening title cut. The 14-song set concludes with "Martyr," a complex composition that alternates textures of guitars and keyboards, pristine echoing vocals, and instrumental sounds with the straight-ahead crash-boom of death metal. If anything, Sworn to a Great Divide warrants repeated listens to get everything out of it, so densely assembled are these songs -- and their production, with all the space and layers, is an added element of morbid seduction. If the listener goes into this disc with no expectations and takes it on its own terms -- instead of as the first cousin or, worse, twin of Natural Born Chaos -- Sworn to a Great Divide will provide great satisfaction. It is well done, carefully executed, and aggressive enough to satisfy fans, while offering some new textures, spaces, and compositional elements to add depth and dimension to an ever-evolving sound. [There is a special edition of this album that includes a bonus DVD. As these things go, it's actually interesting. It features two items. The first one is a mini-documentary called Not Quite Studio; The Devlab (featuring Devin Townsend), and offers a look at the producer's methods, in this case particularly recording and mixing the album's vocals. Also included is a video clip of "Exile." The third installment is far richer; entitled Official Bootleg, it contains a live gig from Pratteln, Switzerland, on the band's most recent tour.]

Product Details

Release Date: 10/23/2007
Label: Nuclear Blast Americ
UPC: 0727361187927
catalogNumber: 11879
Rank: 228440

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Sworn to a Great Divide 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Heavy_Metal_Sushi More than 1 year ago
I recently bought Soilwork's new album, The Panic Broadcast, and thought it was pretty awesome, so I decided I should check out some more of Soilwork's music. I was at a place and found this on promo for $5.99, so I grabbed it up. I gotta say...this album is just as good, if not better, than their newest album...and their newest album is pretty good too. The guitar work on this one is awesome, and the vocals are well done. If you are into metal at all, definitely pick this album up, as well as The Panic Broadcast. I haven't heard anything else yet by these guys, but I intend to. I also thought I would throw out there that the new 36 Crazyfists album Collisions and Castaways is pretty decent too. 4 out of 5 stars. For some reason, that's another album that I have not been able to review on here. Seriously...what's up with that B&N? Anyway, yeah...good stuff. Check it out!