On March the 1st 2013, SOILWORK released its ninth album, epically titled “The Living Infinite”. The record is special because it is the first double album in the history of death metal.
The Swedish metal gurus went back to the grandiose melancholy that fueled their earlier work and they managed to create an album filled with mystery and hidden meanings.
Dirk Verbeuren, the articulate and intelligent drummer of Soilwork, agreed to speak with us and reveal some of the truths behind one of the most enticing metal albums of 2013.
Read the outcome below.
Your latest release, „The Living Infinite”, is the first double album in the history of melodic death-metal. How exactly did the album come about? Did you have too many songs and decided to release them at the same time, or is there more behind the idea of two albums in one release?
The idea first came up while we were touring for “The Panic Broadcast”. We’d been through some turbulent times and Speed thought it might be good for us to take on a new challenge in order to strengthen our motivation. Everyone agreed on giving it a shot, under the sole condition that the inspiration to write enough good music was indeed there. We ended up with 27 songs, two of which were scrapped. There was still more than enough material for what we felt would be a very strong double album.
Judging by the descriptions you and Speed gave to the two parts of the album, I’d say that the second one is a bit more melancholic and sensitive. What traits are common and which are the differences between the two parts of the album?
There’s a common thread of grandiose melancholy throughout “The Living Infinite” which I find very reminiscent of the early Soilwork records. I’m not quite sure how to differentiate the CDs from each other. Every song is its own beast, yet “The Living Infinite” is meant to be experienced as one adventure. It’s a pretty adventurous ride, which echoes the vastness and richness of our main source of inspiration for this record: the ocean.
„Spectrum Of Eternity” is a very fast, very thrashy tune which seems to take us back to the first years of Soilwork. Have you gone back to your more aggressive side on this record?
Despite what certain critics say, a thoroughly aggressive element is present on every single Soilwork record. Maybe it’s more prominent on “The Living Infinite” than it has been on some of our previous albums though. There are full-on fast songs like “Let The First Wave Rise”, “Leech”, “Tongue” and “Spectrum Of Eternity”. Many other tracks have extreme metal elements as well, whether it’s blastbeats and fast riffing or slow crushing grooves like in the song “Owls Predict, Oracles Stand Guard” which reminds me of Mayhem and Gojira. But it wasn’t a conscious decision on our part to be more aggressive. We just let our inspiration guide us through the songwriting process. It’s the sum of our six personalities that makes the end result what it is.
Why didn’t you choose to release the two materials separately?
Our idea from the start was to make a double album. If we hadn’t been able to write enough strong songs, we would have certainly abandoned this concept. But everyone in the band did a kick ass job writing songs, including our new guitarist David. I’m pretty sure Soilwork fans and metal fans in general will be more than happy to hear 20 songs and over 80 minutes of new Soilwork music.
Tell us something about the artwork. It is very mysterious and symbolic, featuring a trident, some snake-like figures and the infinity symbol. Are there any mythological references (the god Poseidon) in the cover art? What does it represent?
The ocean being the central theme of “The Living Infinite” explains why the sledgehammer in the Soilwork symbol was replaced by a trident. The colors and shapes also refer to the aquatic theme, which we aimed to be represented in a more sober and pure fashion compared to our previous album covers. The artwork was created by our good friend Mircea Gabriel Eftemie of Mnemic who already worked with us on “Stabbing The Drama”. He mostly used Speed’s lyrics, some of the new songs and our concept notes as sources of inspiration. Mircea also did a fantastic job on the booklet, which includes a ton of artwork, lyrics and awesome photos by my wife, Hannah Verbeuren.
Talk to us about the name of the album. It hints to something mystical. Have you rediscovered your occult side, or were you always passionate about hidden meanings?
Speed usually bases his lyrics on reality and on his personal experiences. I’m not quite sure there was ever an occult aspect to them but “The Living Infinite” certainly has its mystique. It’s Jules Verne’s beautifully accurate description of the ocean, which has always been a huge presence in Speed’s life. He also found it to be a perfect metaphor to describe the ever-changing state of human emotions. Personally I feel strongly about putting a spotlight on the ocean. Much of the underwater world is still unknown, but what’s sure is that our seas are more threatened by pollution and overfishing than ever before. Hopefully people will soon realize that if the fragile balance of our aquatic ecosystems gets destroyed, human life on earth will become virtually impossible.
Your past albums have had a very sophisticated sound, production-wise. „The Living Infinite”, at least judging by the two teaser tracks made available, sounds a bit rougher and „dirtier”. How has the production process gone this time around, and who did you work with?
We worked with Jens Bogren who also co-produced “The Panic Broadcast”. He’s an amazing producer who perfectly understands how to make an album sound massively heavy without sacrificing the live, raw aspect of each instrument. It’s frustrating when a potentially great record is ruined by over-editing and triggering. Jens absolutely refuses to go down that route, which is why we love working with him. As far as drums go, we used a lot of different snares, cymbals and heads throughout the recording process, in order to get the best and most natural sound we could for each song. I think the production on “The Living Infinite” will blow minds!
How about touring? Where will the fans be able to see you in 2013?
We begin in March with a 7 week tour in the US and Canada. Then we’ll play a number of European festivals in the summer, followed by tours in Europe, Asia, South America and Australia in the fall. We plan to head back to the US and Europe in 2014.
Which artists did you listen to while working for „The Living Infinite”?
I remember listening to the latest albums by Napalm Death, Brutal Truth, Total Fucking Destruction and Slayer. And also some older stuff by Fear Of God and Jesu. Just before going into the studio, I always tend to go back to the old Soilwork material. I like to get inspired by Henry Ranta’s kick ass drumming.
In 2001 you visited Romania for the first time and you sang in Targu-Mures, a small Romanian town in Transylvania. Does Soilwork have any recollection of that particular concert?
I only started playing with Soilwork in 2004 so unfortunately, I wasn’t around at that time. But I do know that the Transylvanian festival and town of Targu-Mures served as a huge inspiration for the Soilwork comic book “An Evil Upon Us”, which was released last year by Terminal Press. I’m pretty sure it made quite a big impression on the band to play in Romania.
A message for your Romanian fans?
Thank you for supporting Soilwork! Always keep your mind and your ears open. We hope you’ll enjoy “The Living Infinite”!
Thank you Dirk!