SOILWORK, DARKANE @ The Key Club, Hollywood (3/8/09)

SOILWORK and DARKANE–a Swedish melodic death metal match made in heaven (err… hell?) A pairing along the lines of today’s version of an IN FLAMES/DARK TRANQUILLITY caliber pairing. This wasn’t about played out brutal death metal or dripping-with-corpsepaint black metal. This was about melody and shred-ology. And shred they did.

Openers, DARKANE, stirred up the pit with some delicious guitar-flexing songs despite having a vacancy in the second guitarist slot. (Guitarist Klas Ideberg has not been with the band due to illness and his replacement, Toby Knapp, was also sidelined due to illness.)

But this band is all about guitarist, Christopher Malmström, and drummer, Peter Wildoer. The two are exceptionally technical, yet every bit tasteful in their style, and together on stage tonight, both were tighter than a pair of power metal skinny jeans.

Highlighting their set was “Rape of Mankind” from their first album, Rusted Angel. Lowlighting their set was new singer, Jens Broman. Perhaps he had the bug too, but he “sang” from his throat (not from his gut), and sadly, he had the stage presence of a high schooler playing his first talent show. Broman has done some great work on record but this night at The Key Club, he was just “there.”

An unlikely “Baba O’Riley” hit The Key Club sound system as SOILWORK were introduced. The “happy” intro signaled an energetic and spirited show, which the band certainly delivered. Between singer Björn “Speed” Strid‘s imposing presence and bassist Ola Flink‘s chest-thumping tomfoolery, there was a engaging, entertaining, and all-around vibrant presence by SOILWORK.

They performed an equal mix of songs from all albums (except for Steelbath Suicide). They kicked things off with “Follow the Hollow” and “Like the Average Stalker,” and didn’t showcase their latest single, “20 More Miles,” until they were six songs in. In fact, 10 songs on their setlist were selected by fans whom they polled online prior to this tour, which helped make their set more fan-friendly. Well played, SOILWORK.

This tour also marked the return of original guitarist, Peter Wichers, and new guitarist, SCARVE‘s Sylvain Coudret (who graduated from session guitarist to permanent guitarist). Having Wichers back on the roster is no doubt a big win as his technical ability and style of playing is essential to the SOILWORK sound. Though he displayed a reserved presence on stage, he was on-point with all his guitar parts. Coudret, also a talent, performed flawlessly, nailing all parts, old and new. He played with passion and energy, matching the sparkle of heavy-metal-hipster Flink.

Nearing the end of the set, The Key Club was still bumping. The Ozzfest vets returned for an encore, closing out a fine set with “As We Speak” and “Nerve.”

SOILWORK have come a long way from their underground death metal days. The world has seen them work hard at establishing themselves as true players, album after album, tour after tour. And despite never-ending lineup problems, tonight, SOILWORK showed that their work isn’t done.  Keep on shredding.

Check out our pictures from the show…

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