on June 20, 2002
After first listening to this album I was literally stunned by the time it had ended. Soilwork's latest album blew me away song after song, and in my first day of owning it I ended up listening to it seven times before reluctantly taking a breather with something mellower. Natural Born Chaos is the essence of melodic aggression -- it is definitely one of the best metal albums I've heard in years. I'm not really a metalhead, per se, so take that for what it's worth. Either way, I readily maintain that this is an _awesome_ record.
Produced by metal's own mad scientist, Devin Townsend (Strapping Young Lad), Natural Born Chaos envelops the listener with raging staccato walls of heavy riffage with exceptional compositional and melodic talents. While unquestionably aggressive, Soilwork's music here is also stunningly melodic at times. For this, we can mainly credit the incredible vocal melodies and vocalist Speed's delivery. On nearly every song, he smoothly toggles between his threatening, throaty growl and dark, powerful clean voice -- and often straddling the line between the two. Speed's vocals are uniformly stunning, and the album is not shy with hooks. I've found many of these songs stuck in my head for days at a time.
Yet, for all of Natural Born Chaos' melodic qualities, it remains a punishing, visceral metal album. Predominantly fast thrash-inflected, syncopated guitar furies, there are also the occasional slow, heavy-duty rhythms that recall the trendy nu-metal which works interestingly for rhythmic diversity. If my use of the term nu-metal frightens you, it shouldn't. Soilwork's songs are replete with technical, intense riffing that crushes any nu-metal band you can think of, and the band's leadwork slaughters. Reams of tasty harmonies and textural guitar effects don't temper the aggression, but still instill a melodic subtlety.
I like how this album makes use of keyboards. They are very gentle in the mix, but they subtly enhance the songs without detracting from the "metallic" quality at all. The keys mistily creep through the songs, almost elusive but valuable in every situation: "As We Speak" presents a dramatic keyboard-generated atmosphere behind the raging guitars; "Soilworker's Song for the Damned" has icy, haunting keyboard backdrops.
The musicianship is topnotch, and every song is a highlight -- I honestly can't pick out any favorites because they are all great. Although the album is not very long, it is so awesome anything more would probably cause a fatal overdose. From its haunting artwork to the music itself, this album is an utter success.
on April 3, 2002
Didn't Soilwork just release 'A Predator's Portrait'? Seems like it, but now all of a sudden in 2002 we have the Devin Townsend produced 'Natural Born Chaos'. And it is spectacular from start to finish, this band is easily the hottest running in the Gothenburg metal scene. Townsend must be given credit for adding that extra touch of melody on this album. On first listen, NBC will sound like an album that focuses way too hard on being catchy and not enough on that death metal brutality. But give it some time, and everything will blend together in a mass of metal perfection. I really can't find any faults within this entire CD. Vocalist 'Speed' gives a full on aggressive assault in every song, and when the time comes to sing cleanly, he shines even greater.
Opener "Follow the Hollow" is classic Soilwork. A very aggressive song that switches back and forth between clean and death vocals until we hit the amazing lead work that Soilwork has become known for. Next comes "As We Speak" which utilizes keyboards in a tremendous way. This is without a doubt my favorite song on the CD, extremely memorable. "The Bringer" uses some nice acoustic guitar at the beginning and is definitely the catchiest of all the songs (features another clever use of keyboards in the solo section). "No More Angels" shreds and rips its way through, a huge standout on this record. Closer, "Song of the Damned" ends this album perfectly with a catchy as all hell main riff and great vocals.
I don't know how the metal community will recieve this album. Soilwork has written an album full of catchy metal songs, and that usually is a bad thing for such an elitist fanbase. But let me say, these songs would never be accepted by the mass public and are still metal as can be. This is my favorite Soilwork album, and I've heard each one many times. Don't miss out on the best album released so far in 2002. Highly recommended.
on September 19, 2002
Occasionally in metal, the emphasis lies a bit too much on brutality or evilness than on that
which are commonly held as true qualities of brilliant music: well developed harmonies,
memorable melodies, superior musicianship in execution and uniquely inspired structure.
While Soilwork may not have delivered the most brutal or evil release to date, they have
more than quantified their penchant for poignant songwriting.
Hot on the heals of the acclaimed A Predator's Portrait comes the landmark Natural Born
Chaos. With their latest offering these Swedish masters do more than just raise the bar for
the melodic death metal scene, they challenge all those in the "rock" genre to match their
craft. Helped tremendously by the maniacal genius of producer extraodonaire Devin
Townsend (S.Y.L), the sextet have more than demonstrated their poise.
Going back to beyond Stealbath Suicide, Soilwork attempted to set themselves apart by
utilizing a unique harmonic structure that paired the traditional dual lead guitar writing
with a keyboard and created a progressive overtone that managed to set a standard in its
own right. With NBC, however, they have found a better way to utilize the keyboard and
twin guitar onslaught to create atmosphere and push the melodies even further to the
By the time one finally hits the title track, the aural assault has gone beyond haunting in
the development of the "hook." Soilwork move like a leviathan, swiftly between grain and
grace, to create gargantuan choruses and hum along riffs that echo in the transient corners
of the mind for hours after the disc has ended while maintaining their death roots.
Sweden may quickly become the entertainment industry's next `Seattle' scene with the rise
of several of Soilwork's contemporaries in the international arena, but with NBC the boys
once again set themselves apart from the "norm" by continuing to not only push the
boundaries of their own genre but influence the execution of melodic output in its entirely.
Just listen to the development of the closer "Song of the Damned" and understand the
beauty of a simply crafted melody under the guise of a "metal" effort. Soilwork have
transcended the stereotypes of metallic brutality to compose songs of melodic appeal
while maintaining their metallic sensibility.
Next time you year for something more than shear evil aggression out of your music but
are not willing to forego the adrenaline rush of pure metal mystique, dig into Soilwork's
Natural Born Chaos and find it is not as confusing as you once thought to sing along and
pump your fist simultaneously.
on March 31, 2015
Melodic Death Metal purists who swear by Slaughter of the Soul, The Gallery, and The Jester Race will tell you that this was the album that sank Soilwork into murky depths they will never again arise from. They will tell you it's the album where they got "soft." From my own standpoint, those people are very, very wrong - to an extent. There is no denying Soilwork put more emphasis on "melody" than "death metal" with this album, as the aggressive riffing and screamed vocals are combined with melodic and clean, sing-along choruses throughout the course of the album.
But to say they got "soft" as a result of this is a very relative term; their intensity is as present on album opener "Follow the Hollow" as it is on a track like "Sadistic Lullaby" from Steel Bath Suicide, even with cleanly sung sections ever present. This blistering intensity combined with the keen sense of melody is also ever present on "The Flameout," "Mindfields," and my personal favorite "Black Star Deceiver." The latter of these tracks features guest vocals from none other than Mr. Devin Townsend (who was the lead producer of the album), giving something of a call-and-response nature to the verses.
Things do slow down and tend to lean more towards the U.S. mainstream metal sound - nü-metal, alternative metal, melodic metalcore, what have you - on the rest of the tracks. A more steady groove and fist-pumping nature is ever present on "As We Speak," the title track, "The Bringer," "Mercury Shadow," and "No More Angels." The same could also be said of album closer "Song of the Damned," but I feel that not only does it give the album a tremendous sense of unresolve by coming in at the end, it also bridges the gap between the two styles - a very melodic and steady groove for the intro, verses, and chorus combined with a bridge that ups the ante a little bit and also brings back some vocal help from Devin (BLEEDING, ACHING, BLEEDING, ACHING).
The music on this album, to me, shows Soilwork deciding to branch out of their Gothenburg influenced bubble and try something a little new while still staying true to form. I'll admit that Figure Number Five, their followup, may be my least favorite thing they put out. But this easily ranks among their best work. They took a risk and for me, as a listener for musicality rather than just metal-ness, it paid big dividends.
on February 1, 2003
Two bands known under the name of In Flames and Dark Tranquillity managed to give death-metal a more artistic dimension, bringing melodies into their songs, avoiding the monotonous sound of straight death, that make me sick to the point I wonder if these death-metal bands enjoy their own sound (I sometimes say to myself "I'm very sorry for these guys").
But Soilwork is not one of them. They are the younger brother of In Flames and Dark Tranquillity. The three bands are from Gothenburg, Sweden and their new melodic sound is now known as the Gothenburg style.
But while In Flames are losing their talent with their latest releases ('Clayman' and 'Reroute to Remain'), Soilwork has made progress. The growling vocals are not the best I've heard, but the combination between the power of Speed's vocals and the softness of the chorus are made like in no other band.
Please, don't compare to Linkin Park or other mainstream horror. Have we heard the same album ? I wouldn't even have the idea to mention this band to describe this. If you have never heard about Swedish metal bands, I think this isn't for you. Anyway, one thing clearly needs to be said : this is 'love it or hat it' album.
My ratings :
Follow the hollow - A+ : great opener, nice intro, easy listenable, cool chorus.
As we speak - A+ : slower song, but atmosperhic and full of inspiration.
The flameout - A : harder song, more difficult to appreciate, but good chorus.
Natural Born Chaos - B- : for me, this is the weak point, repetitive and slightly annoying
Mindfields - B-: same problem.
The Bringer - A+ : My favorite song. Little intro on guitar, nice chorus.
Black Star Deceiver - A+ : nice dialogue between Speed and Devin (producer)
Mercury Shadow - A
No more angels - A
Soilworker's song of the damned - A
To conclude, I'd say this is a great album. Soilwork has done some good innovation. But one default is that it's overall repetitive, since it always uses the same combination (aggressive verses/cool chorus). But don't let that fool you !
on March 17, 2005
How can people call this a sell-out album? Just because a few songs on this album were shown on TV doesn't mean the band have become any more accessible than they were in their hectic At-the-Gates-esque days of "Steelbath Suicide". Bands progress over time, and I believe that "Natural Born Chaos" is Soilwork's apex. They proved themselves as not being another generic cookie-cutter Swedish DM band, especially with the elaborate harmonies and the dashes of sublime industrial synths. Though, I must say, this isn't a total DM album. If you want death metal, don't check this out, instead I would reccommend bands like Obituary, Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, Deicide, etc... but if you want some all around good metal, check this out at all costs.
Soilwork seem to have a much more "catchy" sound to their formula this time around. Speed uses his clean vocals more than ever on this release, but his screams are just as gutteral and throaty than ever. His voice is smooth on the choruses of "As We Speak", "The Flameout", and "Soilworker's Song of the Damned". The guitars are surperb, perfectly finding a balance between crunchy thrash/death metal, tumbling and ripping solos, and elaborate melodies backed by the keyboards. The drumming is just as good! The drummer has a lot of good grooves, and you can tell he knows the kit like the back of his hand. Smashing double bass, impeccable and tight fills, and solid grooves. Top performance here. The band as a whole are extremely tight and have their fair share of technical moments, which are perfectly executed, leading to bruising passages.
1. Follow the Hollow- Amazing guitars, solid rhythms, and a fist-pumping chorus. A nice opening track. 5/5
2. As We Speak- One of the best on the album. Speed's clean vocals shine thorough on the chorus, accented by the trade-off solos and lightning-quick double bass. The synths do a good job of adding to the atmosphere here as well. 5/5
3. The Flameout- One of my personal favorites. Features all of the album's best traits, including the head-banging DM coupled with a soaring chorus. 5/5
4. Natural Born Chaos- one of the heavier tracks here. Features a strong rhythm with crunchy guitars. Sums up the album the best. A truly fist-pumping song. 4/5
5. Mindfields- A typical song, I'd say. Follows in the pattern of previous songs, but has a more accessible song structure with extra synths added in. Pretty good, but not great. 3/5
6. The Bringer- Great opening here. The sound is more melodic, but still has a pummeling rhythm. A strong track, stands out a but more than others. 5/5
7. Black Star Deceiver- Amazing chorus here, and some wicked technical guitar work. Again, a typical song, but it has some good merits to it. 4/5
8. Mercury Shadow- Meh... Seems like a filler track, if you ask me... Typical song structure, and nothing really exciting... 2/5
9. No More Angels- Here we go! Back to the ferocity! A blistering song, another one of my favorites on the album. Great drums, furious vocals... Raise the horns! 5/5
10. Soilworker's Somg of the Damned- A superb closing track. Awesome guitar work, and a VERY addicting chorus. Definitely worth checking out. 5/5
Despite some of the filler tracks and repetitive parts of this album, it's still a great album from one of Sweden's best melodic DM bands. Reccommended to fans of metal in general!
on October 27, 2003
I don't make such statements often, usually because I have such trouble with picking favorites or bests (to the point that I refuse to). The fact that I call this "one of the best metal albums ever made" says a lot. Even with all the trends and "underground" attention from the U.S. Ozzfest crowds have been focusing on Swedish metal, this album doesn't even begin to get old. Like gold, it doesn't tarnish; it's simply *that good.*
Soilwork have lots of great material, especially on this album's predecessor, the bloody A PREDATOR'S PORTRAIT, as well as on the highly-underrated FIGURE NUMBER FIVE, but this album is the perfect marriage of metal and melody which Swedish metal is so famous for. NATURAL BORN CHAOS has it all - crunching distortion, pummeling and lightning-fast drumming, excellent use of harsh vocals (and quite a variety of them, at that!), and an overall sense of HEAVINESS. This is all perfectly - perfectly! - counterbalanced with terrific melodies from both the guitars and the keyboards, haunting ambient touches, and some really emotional singing (yet more from the multifaceted Bjorn "Speed" Strid).
And the production...how much more perfect could it be? Devin Townsend, besides being one of the most creative and talented musicians currently working, is also a virtuosic producer. He so perfectly caught the right vibes of each song at the right times, really bringing out the respective moods of despair, fury, madness, etc., all presented with a sort of shimmering, transcendentally-epic atmosphere.
There isn't a whole lot that can be said about this album. Just listen to it and admire how great metal can really be.
on April 30, 2014
Great CD! Worth every penny! Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys metal! If you enjoy metal, you have to aggressively search to find the gems, as the radio plays the same old crap over and over, and while Sirius is much better, they hardly ever play most of the gems I've found by looking at metal label websites and metal magazine reviews online. Check-out some of the CDs that I have reviewed in my past, and I guarantee you will find something you may not have ever heard of! Stay metal and support our metal community! If you discover something you like on my past review list, click "yes" on where it says: "was this review helpful?"!
on February 25, 2003
Ok, I just want to say that......I'm really not even a metal fan. To be honest the heaviest stuff I listened to before like a year or so ago was things like Nine Inch Nails, and Tool. Which are still favorite bands of mine, and are quite heavy in their own way. But to the point.......for people who are like me...........this is a different kind of heavy. And so when I heard about Soilwork, I was a bit skeptical and brushed it off as just another metal band with blazing solos, lightning fast riffing, and super charged vocals. But when I heard this album i was FLOORED! Absolutely. The reason being, because what Soilwork does (on this album in-particular) is they blend the heavy, with the beautiful. And it's strange using the word beautiful to describe a heavy metal band. But it's very fitting. It's a new way of looking at heavy music that's for sure. The thundering drums of henry ranta are a perfect backdrop for the awesome keyboard sounds that set the atmosphere for the absolutely DEVASTATING guitars on the album. And the album is recorded PERFECTLY! It sounds great...everything is in its place, it sounds HUGE, and nothing is too overbearing. All of the band members are talented people, and it shows with this great album. GET IT NOW!
on October 14, 2002
I was introduced to Soilwork with A Predator's Portrait and it took me a while to get hooked to the sound. (but now i love it)
Second, I picked up this album: Natural Born Chaos, and when I first put it into the cd player, I was completely blown away.
I mean, I lose myself when listening to this album. The "clean vocals" are a very nice touch. While some people don't like them, I really think that they add a great level of depth to the songs. They don't over-do them at all.
New listeners along with existing Soilwork fans, will enjoy this album very much. (it's a wonderful alternative to the new In Flames Album).
Oh yeah, if you haven't picked up "Chainheart Machine" by Soilwork yet, you're really missing out. That's probably their best album, but "Natural Born Chaos" really gives it a run for the money in my opinion.