Review by Jason Guest
Enslaved, album number eight from Max Cavalera’s Soulfly, is upon us and Max is still pissed off. As long as the world shows little improvement, Max will never be short of material, nor will he be bereft of the passion that has underscored his not inconsiderable output. This time, it’s slavery that’s to get a bashing, and a brutal bashing it is too.
‘Resistance’ opens the album with a twisted guitar riff and pounding, tribal drums upon which a wave of multi-layered guitar noises and vocal screams quickly descend. That dramatic and intense opening is followed by the dirty bass that opens ‘World Scum’, a track that shifts between intense, extreme riffs and slow, dense chugs, and includes an atmospheric extended passage that gives the band space to add another dimension to the track. At this point, the foundation of the album has been laid out. Dynamically and structurally, Enslaved consists of the fast, the half-time, the slow and chugged, the atmospheric passage – either as intro, mid-section, or outro – and the violent. Not necessarily in the same order, but all in each track. Though the similarities across the album do make for the achingly predictable, the album maintains the ferocity and intensity you’d expect from anything to originate from Cavalera. The structural and dynamic similarities make for no less a powerful listen and Enslaved is sure to have many a pit bubbling. Surprisingly, the best tracks are in the latter half of the album. What is here far outweighs the weaker half of the album. ‘Treachery’ is unadulterated wrath; ‘Plato O Plomo’ is as intense, the Latin guitar is an outstanding touch and deserves the prominent space it gets in the mix; and the groove-heavy ‘Chains’ is just incredible, huge. And closing track ‘Revengeance’ featuring three more of the Cavalera clan – Richi and Iggor Jr on vocals and Zyon on drums – and lyrics based on writings from the late Dana Wells’ diary is, simply, a beast.
Enslaved doesn’t push any boundaries, and nor will it challenge anyone’s expectations of Soulfly. It may be their most extreme album thus far but due to the album’s almost formulaic approach to the tracks, many of the songs fall shy of the mark. However, one aspect that makes Enslaved is the vocals, and not just Max’s. Cattle Decapitation’s Travis Ryan’s delivery on ‘World Scum’ is biting rabidity; the interplay between Max and DevilDriver’s Dez Fafara in ‘Redemption of Man by God’ is mighty; and bassist Tony Campos matches Max in the venom stakes in ‘Plato O Plomo’. Another aspect is Marc Rizzo’s guitar work, his leads and his atmospheric work in the high registers turn what would otherwise be a bunch of quality death-infused riffs and head-slamming chugs into songs that have density, depth, and diversity. If this is your first exposure to Soulfly, it’s a monster of an introduction; for long-time fans, it’s more of the same. And that’s no bad thing. Recommended.
- World Scum
- American Steel
- Redemption of God By God
- Plato O Plomo
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