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Predator's Portrait

Sweden Country of Origin: Sweden

Predator's Portrait
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Type: Full-Length
Release Date: February 19th, 2001
Genre: Death, Melodic, Thrash
1. Bastard Chain
2. Like The Average Stalker
3. Needlefeast
4. Neurotica Rampage
5. The Analyst
6. Grand Failure Anthem
7. Structure Divine
8. Shadowchild
9. Final Fatal Force
10. A Predator's Portrait
11. Asylum Dance

Review by Stellarium on March 23, 2024.

A small number of events in my life continue to vex me, from not being able to get out of bed without a major limb or back malfunction, to never quite being able to achieve the same level of satisfaction with my first morning coffee as I did the day before. Then, there’s Soilwork.

I have a huge hard-on for melodic death metal, with Carcass, Arch Enemy, At The Gates and the remainder of the Gothenburg scene being as important a part of my musical heritage as my ears themselves. Soilwork are a constant source of irritation to me as for some reason, I’ve never been able to extol the virtues that they deserve. Every release seems to sit comfortably above “mid”, but I’ve never yet found one that stands out above, or below, any of the others. A Predator’s Portrait is the group’s third album and follows on from arguably the two strongest releases. Opening with 'Bastard Chain', we experience a heavier lilt to the group. The lead guitar swoops between vocal passages, and ‘Speed’ barks the song title during the chorus. This piece has a capable and enjoyable solo, marking this as one of the strongest inclusions on this recording. 'Like The Average Stalker' still sits with me as one of Soilwork’s best tracks. The insanely memorable chorus has echoes of “Clayman” and “Colony” by In Flames. The duelling clean/coarse vocals add a strong touch to the piece, with the frenetic solo oozing both technicality and serving the song majestically. We then continue to top-load the album with what is probably the strongest track from a songwriting point of view. 'Needlefeast' is a flurry of solos and strained shouts, with the refrain of “What am I doing here?” offering an ironic consideration that I am quite surprised hasn’t been turned into a meme yet. This track begats the first proper breakdown on the release, allowing the supporting instrumentation to truly bare their teeth. This is where the agitation begins to resurface, as the remainder of the tracks don’t quite reach the same heights, although 'Neurotica Rampage' isn’t far short. The general structuring of fitting a clean melodic chorus or stanza onto each song is a mainstay, and the guitar work on this album is easily noticeable and fantastic. I don’t know if the melo-death curse is just more noticeable as I’ve heard it all before, or if Soilwork are particularly vulnerable to its strain, but I feel that the tropes could branch out so much more than they do.

But I will make a hearty concession and admit that this album and band have finally started to click, and I finally get it. Rather than releasing the occasional genre-defining masterpiece (think 'Therein', 'Only For The Weak', 'Ravenous'), Soilwork are better served with a multitude of songs that don’t need to be crowd-pleasers, but enough for a regular sing-along and encore moment. Maybe it’s better this way. Also, serious points for not having third album blues. (I am talking to you, Entombed…)

The portrait is completed, and behind this sweet smile is a seriously nasty intention.

Rating: 7.9 out of 10


Review by Krys on February 24, 2001.

I don’t remember waiting for anything so impatiently like I did for Soilwork’s latest release "A Predator’s Portrait". On my review of "Chainheart Machine" I said that at the pace they are progressing, I’m beginning to fear the intensity and musical genius of their third release! Holy shit was I right (sometimes it happens to me too)!!! Can anyone just come over and hit me with something hard right in a face cause I don’t believe what I’m hearing. I gave them 10 last time… so what am I suppose to give them now? This is beyond scales; it’s bigger than my miserable life and your happy one too!

Before I tell you something more about this album, please move your sorry ass from the computer and go buy it cause I don’t think I’ll have enough words to describe this musical genius.

With "Bastard Chain" Soilwork starts exactly where they left off on "Chainheart Machine" fast and dynamic, which made my hair rise (or at least something that I used to call hair). And then, my beloved metal maniacs, was the time for a new even more impressive Soilwork.

Yes, you read it right there are a lot of changes since their last opus and oh, Almighty have mercy on my soul, all for the better.

Bjorn "Speed" Strid added clean vocals, which are not romantic clean voices but rather deep and, at times, angry lines, which are used in incredible composed choruses. Those clean vocals in "Like The Average Stalker", "The Analyst" or "Grand Failure Anthem" accompanied by double bass and brilliant melodies make them the most powerful part of the songs.

By adding a much greater variety of tempos, Henry Ranta’s drum section is even more powerful than ever before and Carlos Holmberg’s keyboards like on "Structure Divine" only enhance the overall sound by creating an atmospheric background, which didn’t exist in their previous compilations.

What Peter Wichers, Ola Frenning and Ola Flink are doing on the guitars is beyond this review. No limits – only those two words can describe their musicianship. Their compositions are so tight that even my ass tightened up while I was trying to catch every single note that was coming out of my speakers. They are already one of the best guitar teams in the world and I don’t remember when the last time I was so often catching myself saying, "How the fuck did they come up with those riffs"?

After writing all that stuff about the "Predator’s Portrait" saying that Soilwork just gave us another masterpiece and you have to have it in your collection is just waste of your and my time which we can spend much better by listening to this CD.

Bottom Line: Is it me or did those guys just bare their white Swedish asses and kissed the competition goodbye?

Rating: 10 out of 10