Saturday, June 30, 2012

Soulfly Enslaved (Review)

Max Cavalera has more or less abandoned the sound that he seemingly started Soulfly in order to expand upon. His last album as the front man for Sepultura, titled Roots, was spiked with the tribal, Brazilian, and world folk type of sounds that early Soulfly smartly made further use of. The middle three Soulfly albums, Primitive, 3, and Prophecy, were full on metal albums that incorporated these unique rhythms and sounds into its crushing metal drive to produce something that was, well, unique sounding. Ever since Dark Ages though, Max has reverted to his early Sepultura sound, i.e. fast riffs, double bass pounding, and straightforward blood and fire lyrics. In other words, Max and company’s newest effort, Enslaved, pales in comparison to the innovation of Max and then company’s previous outings as Soulfly, but that isn’t to say that Enslaved is a bad metal album. In fact, it is a very good metal album. It just isn’t a very interesting metal album. 

Buried under the noise is Max’s usual, and lyrically straightforward, message of good vs. evil and just how bad men and women are to other men and women. Unlike earlier Soulfly though, there isn’t much of a direct lyrical appeal to the good in our nature. Now the emphasis is on just repeating the bad. “Blood scum, JFK shot in head-conspiracy, Auschwitz-they breath Zyklon B, the brutal human spirit, Holy War-death knell tolling, The final war-antichrist and Jesus” growl/screams Max during “World Scum.” indicting man’s evils through recitation, but offering the only answer as Armageddon. Guest vocals by Travis Ryan of Cattle Decapitation lends a more ominous death metal feel to “World Scum,” which really sets the stage for the album as far as the heaviness goes. “Gladiator” and “Legions” (Max must have been in an Ancient Rome kinda mood) are both heavy hitting speed metal and double bass explosions of songs with some softer parts that show off Mark Rizzo’s fret fingering technique, and new drummer David Kincade’s (Borknagar) speed metal drumming chops. “Redemption of Man by God,” one of the albums strongest tracks, which also happens to feature Dez Fafara (Devildriver, Coalchamber) on guest vocals, is a powerhouse that knocks down most of the other weaker tracks on the album and in fact, ironically, redeems Enslaved as a work overall.

Max still has the metal mechanics to write and put out some powerful and hard hitting metal. One has to wonder though if he still has the mechanics, or simple ability, to stretch that sound and come up with something more than simply background, mosh ready, rather bland metal. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just cool to sometimes be inspired to think while listening to your metal, not just to bash someone else’s face in.   

Rating: 3 our of 5 Headbangs 

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