Figure Number Five
Review by Tobias on March 29, 2003.
Although many a metal fan might pitch a fit and request that the album name be changed from "Figure Number Five" to "Why Soilwork Why?!" you still need to give the Swedish Gothenburg veterans some credit for vocal improvements and holding tight to some of their aggression.
With many metal bands starting to wander and wonder what else new they can do in the metal arena, there are a sore few who can try new roads with an acceptable level of success. In Flames surprised many with the new sounds of "Reroute to Remain", an album of daring exploration done with artistic moves that are radically unconventional in the metal scene. Soilwork makes the same attempt on "Figure Number Five" with less spectacular results.
While I do want to commend the improvement in control, dynamic ranging and overall quality of Bjorn 'Speed' Strid's vocal efforts, I do have one knock to hand over: some songs like 'Departure Plan' and 'The Mindmaker' sound like Tears for Fears giving Papa Roach a good humping. This flaw to my ears is most apparent when the band that gave us the blistering "Predator's Portrait suddenly leaps into choruses that feature some of the same clean vocals first prominently demonstrated on their previous album, "Natural Born Chaos." The clean(er) chorus was really only successful on 'Distortion Sleep' which featured a much more aggressive tone. I think they should take more lessons from how well it worked out with this song, sound much more akin to Gardenian than the Pet Shop Boys.
But don't let this turn you away from some otherwise pretty fine content. Despite the fairly regular use of the Nu-metal-associated cha-chugga guitar riffing, Soilwork still can lay a solid punch in your ear with tracks such as 'Rejection Role' and 'Figure Number Five.'
Now, I completely understand that band's need to do something different sometimes simply for their own sanity. I also understand that just because a band does something different that what they used to, that doesn't necessarily mean their skill or talent has lessened. But I have to say that while this album may have the capacity to entertain both melodic-death fans and nu-metal fans, the likelihood is much greater that they will be completely switching out their original fanbase.
Bottom Line: This is an album for new fans from what sounds like a completely different band; it is aggressive but more widely palatable than the wonderfully devastating sounds of "Chainheart Machine" and "Predator's Portrait."
Categorical Rating Breakdown
Rating: 7 out of 10