Since the 1990s SOILWORK have continued to etch themselves into Swedish folklore, flying the flag for melodic death metal and being a key influence for musicians and artists across the globe. Members have come and gone along the way but the core fundamentals of the band have stayed the same and that is precisely why they have continued to be as prolific throughout their impressive career. Album number twelve is on the way and one of the newest recruits on the roster, drummer Bastian Thusgaard is still pinching himself to be a part of such a legendary outfit.
“It was super strange for me how this opportunity came about. I took a touring lesson from Dirk [Verbeuren] when the band played in Denmark a few years ago and that was how I got to know him. He was always really nice and helpful and I still maintain communication with him now. He became a mentor to me. When he got the MEGADETH gig and before it was even made public he asked if I could cover for him for like five festivals or so. Honestly, I kind of felt out of my depth but it was a chance that I couldn’t miss out on so I just kind of went for it and those shows became a world tour. It was a crazy experience and I’m still very honoured to be a part of this band. I’ve been a fan of the band for so long and it feels strange to be writing music with them. It was not an easy task learning Dirk‘s parts. I hope I can follow in his footsteps.”
Despite the pandemic slamming the brakes on their well laid plans for touring following on from their previous album Verkligheten, the band continued to stay positive and pour their efforts into keeping their creativity flowing in full swing. Five track EP A Whisp Of The Atlantic soon followed which included an epic 16 minute title track. “It’s been a busy time for us,” explains Bastian. “Right after the last studio album we just sort of continued writing, even after that session we had a lot of songs drafted up with a view to using them on the next album. I’ve been continuously writing ever since.”
The album Bastian speaks of we now know to be titled Övergivenheten, which he feels is a natural continuation of where they left off. “It does have an old school SOILWORK feel about it. Obviously, we never want to release the same album over and over again so we strive to make something new and exciting and continue to develop our sound. There is a wide range of tracks on this album and it’s quite a long one too. Björn loves big choruses and the sort of epic melodies and that is a big thing for him when he is writing. David [Andersson, guitars] leans towards the more extreme styles so you can expect a lot of those styles.”
Övergivenheten follows suit with the choice of an album title in their mother tongue. Bastian and company have become fond of the uniqueness that this decision creates. “We like using weird Scandinavian titles which are a bit mysterious and wanted to find a new word which was kind of a continuation of the path of Verkligheten. Övergivenheten was a word we found that kind of wrapped around everything and the theme we were going for, the theme of being abandoned as well as abandoning others. I feel like a lot of people can relate to this. Lyrically, this album is very honest. We recorded this album during three sessions over a year span. Logistically, COVID was a bit of a challenge and it was also a challenge for us as individuals and that kind of personal and internal struggle poured into the lyrics.”
The departure of Dirk Verbeuren left a big gap in the signature style of SOILWORK, someone with his wealth of talent, experience and expertise doesn’t come knocking at your door very often but when a band as illustrious as MEGADETH come calling you’d have to be incredibly strong-willed to decline such an opportunity. Despite this the band have struck gold with the acquisition of Bastian. He is young, determined and has creative flair in abundance, immediately slotting into their ranks and putting his emphatic stamp on the material he has contributed to. There have been numerous occasions where a drummer was recruited into a well established collective and are basically dictated to as to what they should be playing which must be incredibly frustrating.
Thankfully this has not been the case with SOILWORK as Bastian has been given the chance to show what he can bring to the table. He shows maturity beyond his years in a sense that he is also very considerate and aware of what his bandmates are hoping to achieve with a particular piece. “The way that the songs are brought forward is sort of very stripped down version so I’ve always had a lot of freedom with my drum parts. I do like to know what the intentions are for the songs though, like if someone wants it to be a fast song or a slow song I want to respect that but I always try to be as creative as I can and make sure the drums have a strong role in the tracks. I’m really thankful for being able to write my own parts as I know some drummers do not have this luxury.”
In addition to his contributions to SOILWORK, Bastian stays very active on social media, compiling a wide range of playthrough videos that really assist in showing that particular dimension of his playing. He has a very composed and clinical demeanour but he insists that this is just pure concentration, despite him making intricate, complex sequences look like an absolute breeze. “I wish I had more time to do it because it’s always been a great way of getting yourself out there, especially for the promotional side of things. I have some endorsements so the playthroughs give me the chance to push those out there. It’s almost a necessary evil to be online and present on social media but there are some good things that come out of it. It helps get me ready for playing live too as it keeps me sharp. We’ve been lucky to get back out there on the road and while feeling quite strange it’s been great to meet all the other bands and all the crews from around the world and just get together like nothing ever happened. Everyone getting around music and all the joy it brings, it’s really great.”
Övergivenheten is out now via Nuclear Blast Records.
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