On Saturday 13th February Brisbane was finally host to the return of Swedish Melodic Death Metal masters Soilwork, for their intimate show held at The Triffid. Supporting the Swedes in the old airplane hangar were Brisbane local’s Shifting the Paradigm, and Soilwork’s Nuclear Blast label mates and Brisbane locals, Aversions Crown.
Shifting the Paradigm opened the night with their comeback performance on stage after a period of absence from the local circuit. Although the band had a fill in member, you would honestly be forgiven for thinking that this was the complete line-up of a band that had been performing repeatedly in recent times. Their sound was extremely tight and the crowd reception was positive, giving Shifting the Paradigm a welcome back to the stage that should hopefully entice them to perform again in the near future.
Aversions Crown were next and they were always going to be the interesting choice for the night’s proceedings. I’m not saying that having a deathcore band performing at a melodic death metal show can’t work, but I don’t think it ticked all the boxes for the night. While the crowd seemed generally receptive to Shifting the Paradigm, it seemed like only a handful of people were really getting into the set from Aversions Crown. This isn’t taking anything away from their performance, because it was quite tight, but perhaps it wasn’t the best choice for support band given the crowd. While Aversions Crown put on a performance with the same sort of excitement levels I have seen them with before – I just feel like it missed the mark in the grand scheme of the night’s proceedings.
Having spent two and a half years away from the Australia, but releasing a masterpiece album in the meantime, my expectations for Soilwork were high. I’ll be honest now and state that for as long as I can remember I have been a Soilwork ‘fence sitter’ – always appreciating the music but never quite getting that buzz that you get from one of your favourite bands. However, all of my preconceptions were destroyed from the minute that the overture for “The Ride Majestic” began and the band bounded out on stage and exploded into the song.
Very rarely have I seen a performance as energetic from a band that has been touring as long as Soilwork has. The energy on stage was more akin to that of a Dillinger Escape Plan show than that of Soilwork – with the most recent addition to the band, bassist Markus Wilbom giving a performance that was frenetic yet captivating. The ability of such a person to slot into a band as well established as Soilwork, and essentially take centre stage is phenomenal. Each member of the band performed solidly, continually playing off each other’s cues and each taking centre stage when needed. This wasn’t a performance by a band of five people, this was the performance of one solid team creating magic in front of everyone present.
Watching Soilwork wouldn’t be complete without at least mentioning Bjorn ‘Speed’ Strid’s vocals. This is an artist that is truly in the top echelon of singers worldwide, with an ability matched only by very few (certainly Rob Halford comes to mind) of being able to change between clean and harsh styles in the blink of an eye. Speed has that ability and used it to perfection during this performance.
Culminating their performance with a five song encore, seemed a lengthy, yet satisfying way for the band to say goodnight. With a set that covered eight of the bands ten studio albums, yet still keeping half of the set focused on their two latest releases, the band was able to appease older and newer fans with a great selection of classics, with crowd receptions occurring during “Chainheart Machine”, “Rejection Role” and “Let this River Flow” being the greatest.
Perhaps the final telling point of the greatness of Soilwork occurred after the final notes had been played. After gracefully announcing that they would return and with the rest of the band exiting off side stage, drummer Dirk Verbeuren actually jumped down and walked along the barricade, thanking fans for coming, shaking hands and taking photos with a few lucky ones. This simple act of humility showed that even though Soilwork began climbing their way to greatness 21 years ago, they have not forgotten the fans that have got them to where they are today.