27 December 2015

Soulfly - Soulfly

The second of my Nu Metal December blogs. This is likely to be an extremely bitter experience given that I raved about this album for three days when I first got it and then it's flavor wore off like the bubblegum that it is. But this was hailed as hot shit at the time, not just by me but by the press and fans too. It was round about 'Primitive' where people realised that Soulfly might not be the game-changers people thought they were going to be. '3' confirmed it and since then, the band have been steadily releasing music which - if I'm brutally honest - is nothing special, although 'Enslaved' came pretty close. It seems that the band still gets enough mileage out of the Cavalera name to warrant interest as any Soulfly message board, YouTube video comments section etc will have comments which state that Max is indeed the man despite not having recorded anything that's as bona-fide essential or groundbreaking as...'Point Blank' which was the album for his Nailbomb project. The people who leave these comments look like they weren't even born before "Roots" came out. Like Cradle Of Filth, any momentum Soulfly built up would dissipate due to a seemingly endless revolving-door line-up policy. Countless guest appearances which 9/10 rarely make a difference on the song in question didn't help either.

After the shit happened with Sepultura, Max then regrouped with a bunch of musicians and recorded this. Cello Dias on bass, Roy Mayorga on drums and a guitarist called Jackson Bandeira who didn't stop around for long. This is their story...

1) Eye For An Eye - To be fair, this is a fucking stormer of an opening song! Coming out at you straight from the traps, it's a savage beast! Definitely showing some intent here, it's like Max knows there's no time to fuck around. Great riffs and drums! Bouncy verses and a crushing chorus! It features both Burton C. Bell and Dino Cazares from Fear Factory on vocals and guitar respectively and although you'd be hard pressed to hear Dino, Burton roars along on the chorus superbly! Tribal interlude midway though the song. This will be a common theme throughout the album as Max had a right fucking boner about these back in the day. Still, great song to open the album with.

2) No Hope No Fear - Again, another stormer of a song. Crushing and with a groove to die for, it's bloody great! Especially the bit where the song slows to a crawl and the main riff becomes like a mantra as opposed to a blunt instrument. It ends with trippy noises.

3) Bleed - This song caused a bit of a stir as it featured DJ Lethal doing his turntable thing, and also had Fred Durst rapping during the bridge. The song is about the death of Max's step-son who may have actually been murdered. It's a vicious, angry song as one would expect. Certainly it got the pit going at Ozzfest '98 at Milton Keynes. As one would expect, Fred Durst and his rap do not cut it at all and it sounds cheesy as fuck. Other than that, it's a fine song.

4) Tribe - This is where IMO things start to take a dive. Musically, the song is great. It starts off with Max banging fuck out of that Brazillian instrument that looks like a fishing rod and chanting about Zumbi, who from what I've read was the Brazillian Spartacus. He lead a slave revolt. Tribal drum rolls lead us into another snarling tribal-nu-metal infused song. The bit where it takes a dive is the lyrics - they're extremely repetitive as they all seem to start with "Your Tribe/Our Tribe". At the time, there was a big thing about referring to the band as 'one big tribe' - but a quick scan of Google will reveal that it was only a tribe if your surname was 'Cavalera' (allegedly). Great riff during the breakdown which may have originated while still in Sepultura. Another reason this song peters out is that the tribal drumming interlude goes on for a bit too long.

5) Bumba - Some noisy tribal jam which includes the lyric "bring the shit". It also includes the do do do-do do do do do-do do school of Nu Metal riffing. Gang-tribe back-up vocals during the chorus. A bit of fun for sure but not what I'd call essential.

6) First Commandment - A duet with Chino Moreno from Deftones, a man who Max had been spending a lot of time with back then, co-writing a song for then-new Deftones album 'Around The Fur' (and what a waste that album was). This is an angry blast of noise with tribal stuff in there, Told you there was a theme! But it's a good one, Mind, I can't hear Chino on this at all but I'm not the biggest Deftones fan out there, But Koi No Yokan was a cracking album.

7) Bumbklaatt - Heh, this rules! The title of this song is allegedly a word for 'blood clot' in the Carribean which when translated more meaningfully, is about the clots during mensturation. Hence the song is an insult. The song is a heavy, groovy monster and is having a go at all the fake people. It's allegedly written about a man called Wagner Lamounier who you may know as Wagner Antichrist from Brazillian band Sarcofago who were very infuential in Black Metal. After Max left Sepultura, Lamounier is alleged to have said "Wouldn't surprise me with that family" upon hearing what happened. More tribal stuff (which is getting a bit long in the tooth now) for the bridge and then we rock out to the end of the song.

8) Soulfly - Instrumental track. These are also a staple of Soulfly, some poxy instrumental which is supposed to sound spiritual and uplifting but is actually a load of shit. This sucks, change it...

9) Umbabarauma - The lyrics in the cd booklet hint that this is a song about football (soccer). a groove tribal jam that also has call-and-response elements. It is supposed to capture the carnival atmosphere of a Brazillian soccer crowd, which would have been great back in the day but not when they're getting hammered 7-1 off Germany! Besides, by the time this song was released for World Cup '98, we England fans had 'Vindaloo' which was a much better song!

10) Quilombo - A duet featuring Benji Webbe from Dub War/Skindred, it's a decent enough tribal metal jam. It's about Zumbi the slave revolt leader. If there's one thing we can take from this, it's that we've had an impromptu history lesson throughout the course of this album. It's the first of two duets involving Benji Webbe, the second one is a lot better.

11) Fire - Not too bad, brisk verses and groove choruses. Probably got a few pits going. The tribal jam on this one isn't so good.

12) - The Song Remains Insane. A cover of a Ratos De Porao (great band) song called 'Caos' welded to a snippet of Sepultura song 'Attitude' done in a hardcore style before ending with some standard generic hardcore. Whilst I respect the fact there was no doubt a noble intent behind this song, surely there were better songs that could have taken the place of this one?

13) No - Awful. Just awful. A scrappy attempt at doing punk. It also rants against Hootie And The Blowfish long after that band had ceased to be relevant.

14) Prejudice - The second duet with Benji Webbe is a cracking song, which is what we need about now. An anti-racism song, we have Benji providing some mellow vocals that sound reggae before he switches style and starts shrieking like a mad thing! The music is every bit as groove-laden and tribal aggressive as you'd expect by this point. Deffo one of the highlights of the album.

15) Karmageddon - Another instrumental with lots of drums. Sounds ok, I guess but not what I'd call essential.

A world famous weekly rock magazine described this album as capturing "everything that was exciting about metal in 1998" which was the year this album was released. But I cannot remember any other band whose albums in that year featuring pointless guest appearances and as much musical repetition as this one. The guest appearances wouldn't have been as bad if they'd actually enhanced the songs contained therein and added a new dimension to them but in most cases, they don't. One gets the impression that Max was bricking it about going out with another band so instead roped half a dozen mates in as a safety-blanket. True, Eazy-E's first album had a similar thing going but that was the first time Eazy-E had tried to rap and he had seasoned pro's such as Dr Dre, MC Ren and Ice Cube to help as well as the rest of NWA. Max was pretty much a seasoned veteran by this point when it came to writing, recording and touring so shouldn't have resorted to such a thing. Oh well...

6 - Now I can see where you're going but not quite there.

Chris J.

Top Track: Eye For An Eye.

This album is on iTunes.


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