15 August 2015

Soulfly - Archangel

First off, I would like it to be known that Max Cavalera was one of my musical idols. Ever since I first saw Sepultura perform "Refuse Resist" on a TV show called 'The Word' back in 1994, I was hooked! Given that I was still pissing around with the likes of Guns 'n' Roses, Metallica and Megadeth at the time, it seemed like a whole new level of heaviness. As time went by, I got all the Seps stuff with him on as well as the albums by his Nailbomb project. It seemed like the guy had some kind of Midas Metal Touch or something, Then came Soulfly...

Granted, the first album had it's moments and was fun at the time, but it soon wore off. The many guest appearances seemed more like a crutch than a musical enhancement, as if Max was scared to go it alone with a new group. By the second and third albums, it was as obvious as the nose on your face that they were not going to be the game-changers everyone had predicted them to be. Those albums were nothing more than the formula for "Roots" watered down for the nu-metal generation. Granted, the second one had experiments with reggae and dub, plus a great duet with Sean Lennon but other than that, it wasn't all that, in hindsight. Plus, wearing Kappa tracksuits and baggy pants wasn't fooling anyone. Things picked up round about the fourth and fifth albums when Max went back to proper metal - although the cynic within me initially though that it was because the bottom fell out of the nu-metal market. Since then, each album has been merely OK, the best being 'Enslaved' although that's not saying much. To me, it's a classic example of a band treading water, even more so than Venom, and that's because no-one expected anything from them anyway. For a man with as big a rep as Max in the experimental stakes, it does seem like he pissed away any potential Soulfly had. The constant line-up changes surely didn't help - which put paid to all that bollocks about the band being a "tribe".

This is the tenth Soulfly album and from what I've heard of the three tracks released as a preview, it's pretty much a continuation of the metal they've been making since 2005's "Dark Ages" album. They look like they've gone for a religious slant based on the song titles and artwork - very "The Gospel According To Spinal Tap".. Hopefully, it'll be a great album and the three songs I heard were the duds, but we won't know until I get started. Here goes...

1) We Sold Our Souls To Metal - fucking SERIOUSLY!?! Shit title aside, it's actually not a bad song. Quite a bit of bite behind it. Things slow down towards the end with choir-like vocals which provides a nice little breather before the next one.

2) Archangel - Opening with guitar effects over electronic beats, it cuts quite an atmosphere. Verses are slow and grinding while choruses are fast and harrowing. The chorus riff sounds like something I once wrote ten years ago. This isn't a bad song either, so far so good. More chior-like warbling as an outro.

3) Sodomites - distorted vocals over guitar effects before launching into a stomping song based on the city in the Bible which got torched due to the majority of the residents being deviants in the eyes of God. It apparently uses quotes from the Old Testament passages which tell the story, but I cannot vouch for this as I'm not a Bible scholar. It's a good song (By now, you may be sensing a theme here...). Ethereal float outro.

4) Ishtar Rising - A song about a sequel to a shit Dustin Hoffman movie. Nah, I kid. I'm guessing it's biblical but who knows. Quite a bit of grove and swagger about this one. Great stuff. It seems over before it's begun though.

5) Live Life Hard! - well, this sounds very out of place due to some odd lead vocals...turns out it's a chap called Matt Young who fronts a band called King Parrot. The vocals certainly sound parrot-like. The song itself seems to combine old-school hardcore punk with sludgy bits which is an interesting mix.

6) Shamash - Bless you, here's a hankie. All smashes and thrashes. Nothing to really write home about.

7) Bethlehem's Blood - I'm guessing it's about when King Herod went mental and had all the babies killed but I cannot vouch for that. Again, more crashes, bashes and thrashes. Ethereal outro. We're officially in auto-pilot now, which is a shame as it started off promising.

8) Titans - Pretty much the same damn format as the other tracks. As if we expected anything different. You'd think with a name like 'Titans' it would sound pretty epic. Instead, it sounds like Max had time to kill and shat this out with his eyes closed.

9) Deceiver - At last! A song with a bit of oomph behind it. But it's not enough to save this album - which would have made a good E.P with the four songs which are quite good.

10) Mother Of Dragons - A Game Of Thrones tribute? Doesn't sound like it. And I don't fucking care, to be honest. More bellowing like the Tazmanian Devil having a wank over some substandard thrashes and bashes. This time with his kids playing on the song. This is becoming a regular occurance, like they're turning into metal's answer to The Partridge Family.

As you can gather, this album dropped faster than a lead weight. It started off fairly fun but soon turned into - to make another Spinal Tap reference - a shit sandwich. It's basically choking on it's own musical stagnation. If you're going to stick to a formula, at least sound like you're playing with fucking conviction. Look at Fear Factory - they've been continuing the same path for years but you can hear they're trying their best to make it at least sound exciting. This is basically just some reheated leftovers thrown at the fanbase knowing they'll buy it based on reputation alone. Well, it's this reviewers opinion that Soulfly are not a band worthy of bothering with anymore, Max no longer has the Midas Metal Touch and should probably retire - or cut back on the projects and concentrate on Cavalera Conspiracy as their last album was fucking aces! But Soulfly are done, finito. Mabe I'm too old for this stuff now but I cannot even see or hear anything in this that would appeal to the modern younger metal fan. Go buy 'Arise' instead...

2/10 - If only there was some quality control.

Chris J.

Top Track - Ishtar Rising.

The album is probably on iTunes. Tbh, I don't even care if it is or not.


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