On the train ride to the Gramercy Theater in New York City, I managed to sit down near a group of people who were headed to the same place I was, and all they could talk about was how much they enjoyed Soilwork’s latest album, “The Living Infinite“. While I haven’t had the chance yet to give it a spin myself, hearing other metal fans excited about a metal album, especially from a band I’m minutes away from experiencing, helped to get me pretty excited.
When I arrived at the Gramercy, I was greeted to blistering guitar solos galore coming from the highly talented opener Jeff Loomis and his band. No vocals here, just riffs on top of solos, on top of solos, on top of riffs. A great warm up for the upcoming “Gothenburg Metal” fest about to be witnessed.
With scrims and a backdrop displaying “The Living Infinite” logo filling the stage, the lights dimmed and Soilwork took to the stage. Opening with new song, “This Momentary Bliss“, the band got straight to business with the riffing and soloing.
Guitarists David Andersson and Sylvain Coudret are a great duo, with both always having big smiles on their faces while playing. During solos, especially ones with harmonies, David would often walk next to Sylvain, leaning back to back with him, trading and harmonizing guitar solos with one another. Songs such as “Like the Average Stalker” were given great live treatments, just with this clear love for the music being played.
From the looks of it, The Gramercy was a full house. I was not entirely sure if the show sold out or not, but from what I could tell, every spot of floor and every seat was filled to the brim with metal fans.
Frontman Björn Strid would often lift his right hand to the air, adorning the Ronnie James Dio signature “metal horns“, and the metal fans would quickly react with horns of their own. Before the song, “Weapon of Vanity,” Björn did just that, with pumped up an already excited crowd. This song in particular had numerous fans singing along with Björn to every word.
The set of the night had a few fan favorites here and there, but for the most part was filled with songs off the new double album, “The Living Infinite“. All the songs played, including “Tongue“, “Long Live the Misanthrope“, and “Rise Above the Sentiment“, were all on the heavy side, and people went crazy for them. For a new song, “Rise Above the Sentiment” had nearly as many people singing along as there were for “Weapon of Vanity“.
Prior to playing fan favorite “One With the Flies“, Björn spoke with the crowd once more and told them, “This is the perfect soundtrack for moshing. Are you ready to mosh?“, which the crowd happily obliged to.
Returning to the stage for an encore, Sylvain Coudret showed his chops with a quick wah-induced guitar solo, followed by Soilwork diving straight in to one of my favorite songs of theirs, “Stabbing the Drama.” Clearly, the crowd enjoyed the song as much as myself, because things got ROWDY, and did not stop getting crazy for the remainder of the set. The pit opened wide, and security guardrails were pushed by the flailing and movement of bodies.
After blasting through “As We Speak,” Björn let the crowd know it was really time for their final song, “Late For the Kill, Early For the Slaughter“. The Soilwork fans produced a huge circle pit, making sure security of The Gramercy had their work cut out for them right up until the final note.
To me, the crowd at a Soilwork show works differently. At most metal shows, they’ll give everything for the first two or three songs, and then settle down to a constant until the last one or two songs. At Soilwork however, perhaps it was just the way the set list was laid out, but I could clearly see the crowd start weak and progressively get stronger and wilder as the show went on. When the band came back for their encore, things just exploded. The songs from “The Living Infinite” play great live, and got some great reactions. Overall, Soilwork was a great feast for the appetite of hungry New York City metal fans.