Live albums nowadays are more of a predictable package than they were back in the 90's. Now, live albums receive the same polish and attention that an album does, crystalizing the sound and making the mix fluid and listenable while still retaining the live feel intended. Soilwork's "Live In The Heart of Helsinki" is no exception and for me was an incredible listen. Having never seen these Swedish progenitors of evolving soundscapes, this album really gives you a fantastic idea of what you would experience at an actual show. Vocalist "Speed" Strid interacts, amps up and feeds off the audience and is genuinely charismatic and engaging, as a lead singer should be. His vocals sound ridiculously good, his death growls sound even more brutal and guttural than they do on the album and his cleans, my God, how does that dude go from such a growl to a voice as sweet as honey? Guitarists Sylvain Coudret and David Andersson wield Soilwork's progressive dual attack with a ferocity and precision that reminds one of a superbly crafted Samurai sword. The band sounds incredible live and while part of that may be due to the mixing, you still can't make a bad band sound good and clearly Soilwork need no tweaking when it comes to being a tight performing outfit. While not as expansive catalogue wise as Testament's "Dark Roots of Thrash" was, "LITHOH" covers a good chunk of Soilwork's career, going as far back as 2000's "Steelbath Suicide" and up to the most recent release "The Living Infinite". A live album in the truest sense, "LITHOH" makes you feel like you are part of the show and you can't help but yell back Strid's commands of shouting along with the words to songs or chanting when he orders the crowd to. A nice appetizer to what will hopefully be a new album from these Swedish masters.
About this Writer: Greg Watson // Greg Watson has been hooked on the loud and heavy sounds since the summer of 1994 when he first heard the opening notes of "Operation: Mindcrime" by Queensryche. Since then his tastes have expanded and grown like the ever evolving heavy metal tree of genres. He has been an active member of Maximum Metal off and on for 10 years. In his spare time, Greg enjoys deciding the fate of his loyal subjects in the realm of Skyrim and secretly playing air keyboard to "Separate Ways" by Journey when no one is watching. He currently resides in Roanoke, VA with his wife and his metal wannabe beagle.
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