SOILWORK frontman Björn "Speed" Strid recently spoke with The Metal Tris. The full conversation can be streamed below. A few excerpts follow (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).
On the title of the group's new album, "Verkligheten", which means "reality" in Swedish:
Björn: "This title came up a couple of years ago. It was David [Andersson, guitars] who [brought] the idea in. At the time, it just seemed weird... and then we sort of forgot about it. I guess it was marinating at the back of our minds a little bit and came up again for this album, which sounds extremely Scandinavian, especially melody-wise. I think lyrically, it's showcasing suburban Swedish anxiety as well. It just seemed like the perfect title. With age, you sort of need to face reality, but you also have to find new ways to escape it somehow. There's that sort of contrast in there... This might be a cliché, but I think for somebody who's never listened to SOILWORK, this is actually a really good introduction. There's elements from the two first albums that we put out — sort of the heavy metal basics mixed with thrash, but also the later stuff that we had with '[The] Living Infinite' and '[The] Ride Majestic' — sort of dreamy and super-extreme at times. I think it's all in there. I'm really proud of the album."
On the album's cover art:
Björn: "That snake sort of symbolizes escaping reality. It wasn't planned that way. We basically gave the artist Valnoir some key points here and there, and then we got this cover, and it's like, 'Whoa — we didn't expect that,' especially not the colors. But we all loved it, because we've had so much troubles in the past deciding on a cover, and now, bam."
On the album's writing process:
Björn: "It came to us, and it was kind of easy in the end. I think we did so much touring for 'The Ride Majestic' — three North American tours, two European tours, all the festivals in Europe, South America, Australia, Japan — so that left us kind of drained, to be honest, in the end. I think we just needed some time off. I sort of waited things out, and then it came to me. We just finished up mixing THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA album and then just restrung the guitar, tuned down to B and I was sort of nervous — 'Is this going to happen now?' It just came to me. It's really interesting how easy that switch was."
On whether THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA is now influencing SOILWORK's direction:
Björn: "I don't know. You have a certain sense of melody that comes with you wherever you go, so it's only natural in the end that certain things would cross over, but at the same time, me and David wrote the whole new SOILWORK album, which wasn't planned — it just became us two in the end — and for us, it's two very separate things. We like to keep it separate. It's like our yin and yang sort of situation."
On what makes a good singer:
Björn: "When it comes to screams, I think it's always been important to me that no matter if you're growling or whatever, you need to enunciate every word. Sort of like [SLAYER's] Tom Araya always has done — you can hear every word he's screaming, and he's screaming his lungs out. That has always been very inspiring to me. Jon Nödtveidt from DISSECTION was one of my faves as well — still is. I think that makes a good metal singer — the presence in the voice, too, which is so hard to define exactly what that is. You just feel it. Clean vocals, it's been taking some time, and I think this is going to sound weird, but I've been working a lot on my falsetto, and I think that's really the key to all kinds of singing. If you build up a really strong falsetto, you will definitely have the stamina to pull off the rest... I think you can hear that with singers if they have a strong falsetto, because it gives a different tone to the voice as well."
On keeping things fresh after 11 albums:
Björn: "We've had quite a few lineup changes, and that was actually something good for us. When David and Sylvain [Coudret] came in, I think they brought something really interesting, [and] fresh new blood. It also inspired me to pick up the guitar. I was a guitarist from the beginning, and I started writing a lot of songs. It's been interesting for me to build a song from scratch rather than just getting a demo and then adding the lyrics and the vocals. 'The Living Infinite' was really a crucial album for us, to sort of go through that as an experiment. Thankfully, it turned out really good, but it also could have turned [out] really bad. I think we regained strength through that album."
"Verkligheten" — SOILWORK's 11th album, and first with new drummer Bastian Thusgaard — was released on January 11 via Nuclear Blast. The first-edition digipak, as well as the vinyl versions, also contain the exclusive "Underworld" EP containing four more songs. The digipak version also features special artwork with lavish foil print.
SOILWORK recently embarked on an extensive European co-headlining run with labelmates AMORPHIS. Support on the trek is coming from NAILED TO OBSCURITY and JINJER.