As Soilwork continues to press toward the January 11th, 2019 release of their new album Verkligheten via Nuclear Blast, the band continues to give fans unprecedented access with behind the scenes videos and conversations about the creative process. In an exclusive trailer for Ghost Cult, vocalist Björn “Speed” Strid and guitarist David Andersson share their thoughts on the new album, and how their personal growth between albums guided the outcome of Verkligheten. Continue reading
Formed in 2006, and including members past and present of Soilwork, Arch Enemy and Spiritual Beggars, are The Night Flight Orchestra. Despite their heavy origins they are anything but, this Swedish sextet are enamoured with the sounds of the late 70’s and early 80s – so expect big riffs, huge choruses, corny lyrics and artery-clogging amounts of cheese. Continue reading
Bjorn Strid is someone who likes to keep himself busy when it comes to creating music. Aside from his ‘day job’ with Swedish metallers Soilwork, he has found himself loaning his voice to multiple side projects and guest appearances over the years.
He shared some of them he has done. “Disarmonia Mundi – That’s just a guest thing. So whenever they put out an album together, they ask me if I’m available and I do it. That’s always a lot of fun. They’re friends of mine.”
“The only other band that I really have, like a real band, that’s The Night Flight Orchestra. I don’t need any more. It’s classic rock and that’s one side of me, and there’s the metal side of me and that’s Soilwork. I think that’s perfect.”
“There’s Terror 2000 as well. We haven’t done a record since 2006. So it’s been a while. I’m happy where I am right now. I don’t need any other bands. I do guest vocals here and there. That’s fine but as far as starting new projects I don’t feel like it right now.”
He elaborated on The Night Flight Orchestra, his 70s rock/AOR rock band featuring fellow Soilwork guitarist David Andersson, Arch Enemy bassist Sharlee D’Angelo, Von Benzo keyboardist Richard Larsson, Mean Streak drummer Jonas Källsbäck and congas/percussion/guitarist Sebastian Forslund.
“It’s really our vacation band. We have been doing shows. We did Sweden Rock which is a huge festival as well. Our fan base is really growing as well and it’s a totally different musical expression obviously. It’s really cool and it’s whenever we have time. It’s hard to sync sometimes because Sharlee D’Angelo with Arch Enemy. They’re on tour a lot. It’s hard finding the time but then again we don’t want to feel any pressure with that band. It should be all about fun entering the studio and jamming out and doing as many shows as we can.”
“If anyone wants to check out The Night Flight Orchestra, it’s called Skyline Whispers. It came out in June. Like I sad, it’s a totally different thing. Try to be objective. It’s nowhere near any kind of metal. It’s late 70s- early 80s Dad rock, if you want to call it that.”
Reinventing its own sound especially after shuffling members can stifle a band. But for veteran Swedish metallers Soilwork, they have embraced this challenge head on and have created some of their best works working around the members on each release.
They recently completed their latest North American tour supporting Soulfly, and in support of The Ride Majestic, their tenth and latest album, and while frontman Bjorn “Speed” Strid talked about working with the incoming members on recent records, he also talked about whether the ideas and concepts of each release comes together quickly.
“I don’t think we discuss it that much. I think basically what happened is that we definitely found something new with The Living Infinite. We rediscovered ourselves as songwriters through the album. I’m happy about the Panic Broadcast as well, but I think we found something new with The Living Infinite and with David [Andersson] entering the band as well and playing together with Sylvain [Coudret]. I think it brought something interesting to the table. I think it really inspired us to write the new record because it was quite a project. It was almost like an experiment as well because we recorded 26 songs total. 20 ended up on the album. I think that was a great way for us to find ourselves again after everything happening with Peter [Wichers] quitting the band and then coming back again and then quitting again. I think it was a necessary thing to do in the end.”
“With this new album [The Ride Majestic], it was pretty easy. We just booked the studio and we felt very inspired. We could have toured twice as much as we did for The Living Infinite, but we ran into some troubles with our management at the time. So that killed it a little bit. It happens and there’s quite a number of bands that could relate to it.”
“Basically we said let’s focus on making a new album instead, and channel all of our emotions through that album instead. That’s what we did and I think we have this mutual vision that we thought it would be somewhat darker. I guess the keyboards led in the darkness. That’s exactly what we did and going through everything, with personal tragedies with family members passing away during the actual recording, it actually made it pretty rough. I think the music became a big comfort and it happened so close to us. It was the close encounter with death and dealing with an album where a lot of lyrical content is dealing with a lot of expediential questions about life and death and those things. It definitely affected the approach to the recording and also a little bit, the songwriting as well.”
The Ride Majestic was produced by the band with David Castillo and Jens Bogren mixing the album. After working with a few different producers over the band’s history and even self producing a few along the way, Strid said having both options when working on records has helped them learn how to approach each release differently.
“I don’t even think about it. It just kind of happened that we started producing it ourselves. We never really decided ‘OK we are producing this record and that’s it.’ It just happened that way.”
“We tried out doing producer teams before with Devin Townsend and Fredrik [Nordstrom], which was a pretty interesting and chaotic project as well. It turned out really good.”
“I don’t mind having people having opinions. We’ve been working with really cool people for sure. David Castillo has worked with Fredrik Nordstrom and Daniel Bergstrand.”
The death theme became a common topic during the recording of The Ride Majestic. While much of the material was already written, personal tragedies began to affect each member of the band during the making of the album, which altered the dynamics of the album.
“Most of the songs were done already. It would have still turned out to be a pretty dark album. The songs became a more real soundtrack to what was really happening at the time. I think it affected us as to how we approached the actual recording.”
“For example, when I recorded the vocals, it was a pretty tough time. It felt very real and I could really relate to the melancholic sounds that run through the album, especially with the melodies. They are very Scandinavian and melancholic.”
Since the recording of 2013’s The Living Infinite, Strid lost his longtime writing partner and guitarist Peter Wichers for the second time from the band, and was getting used to writing with two new guitar players who had just joined the band then on a full-time basis. Getting acclimated to new chemistry became a challenge, and also helped Soilwork move forward as a band at the same time.
“I worked with Peter [Wichers] for such a long time. We started the band and I was so used to working with him and when David and Sylvain came in and they started throwing me some stuff…like whoa…what is this? So I really had to step outside of my comfort zone. That really made me develop as a singer as well, and also inspired me to pick up the guitar again. I used to write a lot of stuff. I wrote eight songs for The Living Infinite and on the new album I wrote four. It’s been very inspiring for me.”
“The songwriting has been looking pretty much the same. We write separately and sometimes meet up whenever me and Dave are sitting down and are going through some song ideas that we had. For the most part, we sit separately and put the songs together and bounce files back and forth. We’re used to that.”
“I think Soilwork needed this kind of member change. It was only natural at the end. It brought something new and I’m so proud of where we are today with the sound that we have and we found something interesting that I didn’t know that we had. It’s like we used an old cliché. It’s a new era.”
Since the last album, the band also parted ways with longtime bassist Ola Flink and was replaced by longtime tech Markus Wibom.
“He’s an old friend of the band so it’s been a very natural transition. He’s been on tour with us before. He used to be a guitar tech on both our European tour and our North American tour in the mid 2000s. Everybody in the band knows him very well and everybody liked him. The only thing was we knew he played bass, guitar and keyboards. We just didn’t know how good he was on bass. We had to try that out. We knew his personality which was spot on perfect. He pulled it off really well. It’s been a really smooth transition.”
“I definitely miss [Ola] Flink but I also could see that he was pretty miserable at the end being on tour. He’s in a better place now. Markus [Wibom] is really excited. That’s exactly what we need.”
“There are no hard feelings. He came to the point where he was like ‘I don’t feel motivated to tour anymore and I want to have a normal life and a normal day job.’ Most of us come to that point. It’s also rough surviving financially and there’s no stability for the most part.”
Strid also talked about the band reaching its 20th anniversary as a band. While many bands are squeaking by and reaching an anniversary date, he is proud of the band’s accomplishments and where they stand as a band today.
“I’m really proud of us for still being…we’re still making sense and we’re a very energetic band. You can feel the energy running through the music and we’re not trying to recreate that album, whatever that might be – Stabbing The Drama or Natural Born Chaos. Those are like somewhat cult classics by now. It’s been very important for us to not try to recreate something and being able to develop our sound and still being able to surprise ourselves and our listeners in a very positive way. I think it’s a pretty cool thing that most fans have been able to develop with the music and the band. People know they can expect some surprises for each and every album.”
“I don’t really hear a lot of people bashing us for like ‘oh go back to Chainheart Machine or Stabbing.’ Most people are happy with where we’re at right now and they can still feel that it’s true to our roots but it’s also that we’ve evolved as well,” he said.
With Soilwork’s influence upon the hard music scene overall, younger artists have shown their appreciation in many ways and YouTube videos have popped up with many variations of covers of their songs. Strid did admit he did occasionally view some of these and enjoys what he sees from these artists.
“It’s really cool to see. It’s kind of surreal when you look at it there’s somebody sitting in their bedroom or their dorms ripping through some songs from the old days or even now.”
“It takes about two days. If you have a new song, it’s like ‘uh ok…here’s the cover.’ It’s insane how many talented kids there are out there that can look at the songs and nail it.”
Being on tour and having ten albums worth of material, including a brand new release has made things a bit challenging when selecting a set list. Strid admitted that while it can be tough, they do have options on forming a strong set of songs.
“It is very hard, especially now that we’re doing a direct support tour. We have 45 minutes and that’s it and we’re promoting a new album. I think we’re going for a pretty intense set and taking the songs that work good live, has really cool dynamics, to get everything packed in there and that represents our whole career. It’s really hard to do. We have ten albums out.”
Lastly, would Soilwork be open to doing ‘An Evening With…’ style show doing an entire album or two from beginning to end? While he had mixed feelings about it, Strid shared his thoughts on the matter.
“We have discussed it but I guess we’re stubborn like that. Whenever people are doing that, we don’t wanna do that. It’s just too predictable. I know it’s kind of silly.”
“In a way I would like to do it. Maybe do Natural Born Chaos in its entirety, but it’s a little bit of a different lineup today. I want to respect that as well and not just be too nostalgic as well. I’m sure there will be a time where we could do something like that, even if it’s one of our later albums or even the new one or The Living Infinite in its entirety. That would be cool too.”
Soilwork’s first concert album/DVD, Live In The Heart Of Helsinki (Nuclear Blast) is everything it should be. They cover songs from every album and yes, there’s about 3-5 more songs I wish they had included. What’s there is good enough for me. This is the second recording with the guitar tandem of David Andersson and Sylvain Coudret, and they perform older tracks like ‘Bastard Chain’ and ‘As the Sleeper Awakes’ with conviction and the passion of the original players. With 23 songs here, I’m extremely impressed how strong Bjorn Strid’s voice sounds. His power is intense regardless if its a song like ‘Overload’ or ‘The Chainheart Machine’. He is joined on the mic by Revamp/Nightwish singer Floor Jansen on ‘Let this River Flow’ and Sonic Syndicate’s Nathan James Biggs on ‘Black Star Deceiver’.
The production on here is superb, visually and sonically. No one gets lost in the mix here, keyboard maestro Sven Karlsson and bassist Ola Flink are upfront and as clear as everyone else. With all the extra drum cams of Dirk Verbeuren it’s worth it alone to watch him casually run through the his insane performances of the songs. I’m really happy with this release. It truly pays homage to the bands’ almost twenty-year long career. No album is forgotten here, and I wish more artists would remember that in general. You never know what was a fan’s first album and this right here satisfies all that. Plus, The Circus Club looks and sounds like a place you’d want to see a show.
Live In The Heart Of Helsinki is available as DVD/2CD and Blu-Ray/2CD and the following tracks:
01. This Momentary Bliss
02. Like The Average Stalker
04. Weapon Of Vanity
05. Spectrum Of Eternity
06. Follow The Hollow
07. Parasite Blues
08. Distortion Sleep
09. Bastard Chain
10. Let This River Flow (feat. Floor Jansen)
11. Long Live The Misanthrope
14.The Chainheart Machine
15. The Living Infinite I
16. Rise Above The Sentiment
17. Late For The Kill, Early For The Slaughter
18. Rejection Role
19. Black Star Deceiver (feat. Nathan J. Biggs)
20. As The Sleeper Awakes
21. Sadistic Lullabye
22. As We Speak
23. Stabbing The Drama
DVD/Blu-Ray bonus material:
01. Spectrum Of Eternity: A Brief History Of Soilwork
02. Behind The Scenes Of The Living Infinite
01. Long Live The Misanthrope
02. Rise Above The Sentiment
03. Spectrum Of Eternity
WORDS BY OMAR CORDY
THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA is:
Björn “Speed ” Strid (SOILWORK) – Vocals
David Andersson (SOILWORK, MEAN STREAK) – Guitar
Sharlee D’Angelo (ARCH ENEMY, SPIRITUAL BEGGARS) – Bass
Richard Larsson (VON BENZO) – Keyboards
Jonas Källsbäck (MEAN STREAK, ORCHID) – Drums
Sebastian Forslund (KADAWATHA) – Congas, Percussion, Guitar