The tenth album from metal’s answer to the Von Trapp family…
Review by Allan Jones
Release date: 14 August 2015
At just under 37 minutes, I’m not sure whether to classify this as a short album or as a long EP. Decisions, decisions. Whichever way you go, though, this is one heavy, heavy dose of Max Cavalera. Believe it or not, this is Soulfly‘s tenth studio album. A you’d expect after ten albums, Cavelera is an immediately recognisable force – the gravel-toned grunts and growls are a percussive force in their own right, but when coupled with the down-tuned guitar riffs that he’s known for, it’s an unmistakable noise.
Usually, the guitar work is underpinned by a tighter-than-tight rhythm section, and there’s no break from tradition here. Zyon Cavelera (Max’s son) is on skins, and (perhaps unsurprisingly given the family heritage) does a great job. Sure, uncle Igor Cavelera’s guest spot on ‘Mother of Dragons’ does perhaps cast a small shadow over his efforts, but there really aren’t too many drummers out there capable of holding their own against Igor, and Zyon really isn’t that far off him at all.
While Tony Campos has now left to join Fear Factory (replaced by another of Max’s progeny, Igor Cavalera Jr), his basslines really do underpin the drumming superbly. Marc Rizzo remains on lead guitar duties on the album as he has since 2003 to round off the line-up. As usual, there are several guest appearances on the album (this time around from Todd Jones of Nails, Matt Young of King Parrot and Richie Cavalera to bring yet another family member along – I’m beginning to wonder if the Cavelera’s aren’t metal’s answer to the Von Trapp family at this stage).
Layered on top of all of this are lyrics that reference the destruction of Sodom in ‘Sodomites’, the Akkadian sun god ‘Shamash’, the Babylonian goddess Ishtar, and the ‘Titans’ (and their war) in a melange of spiritual source material. Of course, that takes a back seat to the sure-to-be-a-crowd-favourite ‘We Sold Our Souls To Metal’ with the big, shouty chorus that the fans can scream back at the band.
The music itself is very typical Soulfy – fast, furious, and heavy. Max’s groove is in full effect, albeit perhaps to a lesser extent than earlier in his career. It’s an extreme sound, more death metal than some of the earlier work, and that includes Rizzo’s guitar work that borrows a lot of modality from death metal and heavy metal and shoe-horns it into the mix.
It’s a hard album to score in many ways, as it’s obviously not something that would to appeal to a casual listener. It’s not something you could put on in the background, say, or an album that your grandma would enjoy listening to. On the other hand, though, it’s not massively changing any of the elements that have been present over the last decades of Cavalera’s career, so chances are that you’ll enjoy it if you’ve enjoyed the previous stuff, too.
If you’re not a fan, though, or you’ve only picked out certain tracks from earlier albums (or from Sepultura’s back catalogue for that matter) for your collection, then there’s nothing here that would make you change your mind. For me, it’s lost a little of that tribal, Brasileiro magic that made them stand out from the crowd. It was all about the rootsy, tribal primitivism of the music, and the samba-influenced rhythms, and unfortunately that’s all taken a back seat to the more death metal stylings on display this time around.
6 out of 10
- We Sold Our Souls To Metal
- Ishtar Rising
- Live Life Hard!
- Bethlehem’s Blood
- Mother Of Dragons