8 August 2013

Soulfly - Enslaved

At one point in the early 90's, it seemed like Max Cavalera had a sort-of creative Midas touch as everything he created turned to gold. Sepultura hit a gold vein between Beneath The Remains and Roots, plus the Nailbomb project was well received and for good reason - it was awesome! So when he quit Sepultura in a hissy-fit because the band wanted to change management, Soulfly (The name comes from a Deftones song called 'Head Up') was a band which garnered a bit of buzz up to the release of the debut album. You could cut the anticipation with a knife..

Well, who'd have known that in 2013, it wasn't worth the wait? In a nutshell - Soulfly have been an utter disappointment. Like taking a girl home and finding her 'big guns' were the result of a wonderbra, it was all show and nothing of substance. Max had taken the formula of the "Roots" album and watered it down for the first four albums. Tribal beats? Check. Song about dead step-son? Check. Wanky awful instrumental? Check. The worst excesses from nu-metal such as repetitive uninventive one-finger-one-string riffing and banal 'JUMPDAFUCKUP'-esque lyrics? MOTHERFUCKING CHECK! There was also a bit of cod-spirituallity thrown in as well where Max seemed to take to rastafarianism imagery which was nice, to be fair, but not enough to wipe away this disappointment. Max also seemed to be turning into some kind of heavy metal Paul Simon due to the constant use of world music with his own. But he had yet to record his "You Can Call Me Al"...

This album, however, is back to basics metal. Due to a 'revolving door' line-up policy, there were yet more line-up changes to join Max and other guitarist Marc Rizzo - drummer David Kinkade (ex-Borknager) and bassist Tony Campos (ex-Static X, current bassist/vocalist for Asesino). Their influence must've paid off as this is the heaviest Soulfly album yet. Some have claimed a Morbid Angel influence (Before they became a gay space-disco) but I wouldn't go that far. The reviews for this album, oddly, seemed to speak more of Soulfly's nu-metal leanings instead of talking about a return to metal... 

The album kicks off with one of those "intro noise"-type tracks which quite frankly, are as annoying as the 'skit' tracks on a rap cd. Then we're into the album proper - this may be the heaviest thing Max has recorded since the Sepultura days. The guitars crunch, the drums crash and the bass sounds thumpingly awesome! The production is excellent for this sort of thing, the right mix (no pun intended) between raw and polished.

Guest appearences feature - but aren't as abundant as in the past. Vocalist Travis Ryan guests on a song called 'World Scum' which is awesome and, erm, Max's kids guest on a song called "Reveangence". It's not too bad, almost like a metal Partridge Family. The best one is former day-glo nu-metal clown Dez Farfara (ex-Coal Chamber, current Devildriver vocalist) turns up for a growl session on "Redemption Of Man By God". It's one of the album highlights as are the songs 'Gladiator', Legions', 'American Steel' and my personal favorite 'Plata O Plomo' which is about Drug Kingpin Pablo Escobar ('Plata O Plomo' means silver or lead. It was Escobar's way of operating: Money Or Bullets. Either I bribe you or kill you). 

Soulfly's journey back to proper metal started in 2005 with the excellent Dark Ages but this effort is a bit more solid than that album. It's a shame it's taken this long for Max to have released an excellent album for a band he's now got more history with than Sepultura. 

8/10 - Oh now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart.

Chris J.

This album is available on iTunes.

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