|Soulfly - 'Enslaved' (Roadrunner Records)|
|Written by Gaz E|
|Monday, 12 March 2012 04:45|
It says, perhaps, everything about in how high a regard the metal world holds Max Cavalera when, at odds with former band mates, family even, the fans refuse to let this man's hefty grip loosen on their blackened hearts.
Even when Soulfly, the band he created following his acrimonious split from Sepultura, have - and I don't think it unfair to state this - been solid if unspectacular over the past few years and albums, the fans have stuck with him, probably for one reason: they see him as one of them, one of us. Cavalera has always seemingly eschewed the trappings that accompany fame, or infamy, and remained true to the spirit that made him pick up a guitar and destroy microphones in his native Brazil back in the '80s: a rock star without the pathetic piss and pith of celebrity, instead keeping that passion for both music and justice flowing.....and don't we just love him for it.
If some of the Soulfly albums that preceded this new release treaded water then 'Enslaved' does exactly what the hyperbole that accompanies any new record promises; this album instead curdles the blood. Could the quality and general ferociousness of Cavalera Conspiracy, which saw Max reunited with his formerly estranged drumming brother Iggor, have reignited some of that fire? Could the recruitment of former Borknagar and Malevolent Creation drummer David Kinkade to the Soulfly ranks have made an immediate, and incendiary, impact? Well, you'd have to say yes on both counts, and add several other key factors because, seriously, the truth is that 'Enslaved' is the best Soulfly album for years.
Musically and thematically this new album sees Max blurring the lines even more than usual; sonically, this is a record influenced by his love of metal bands more akin to having the word 'death' slapped in front of them - Morbid Angel, Massacre, Dark Angel, Death themselves. Thematically, this album tackles the horror of slavery, an idea of Cavalera's that goes all the way back to the mid nineties and sees Max, again, pushing the boundaries, this time with a taint of death metal polished with intelligent, political lyrics rather than the usual tales of necromancy and the like that fill the CD booklets of your everyday death band.
Does it work? Damn right, it works! From the off, and opener/intro 'Resistance', the tone is set to stun. 'World Scum', first song proper (and featuring the guest vocals of Travis Ryan of Cattle Decapitation), is a grimy masterpiece; furious bass and drums giving way to a chanted chorus that screams of vintage Max Cavalera - love this song and you love this album, it's that simple.
Dez Fafara of DevilDriver (and the reunited Coal Chamber, of course) lends his cultured vocals to 'Redemption Of Man By God', a song that is as noisy and epic as the title and guest star probably had you expecting, the song's end slowing things down for a breath-catching moment or two before 'Treachery' slams your ears back against the wall, demanding their attention. 'Plato O Plomo' (with vocals from bassist, and former Static-X man, Tony Campos, appearing on his first Soulfly album) could be the nearest Soulfly ever get to sounding like Sepultura, this song certainly having echoes of 'Roots' classic 'Ratamahatta'. 'Chains' proves that, even at song number ten on the track listing, there is barely a second of weakness engrained into this album's virtual grooves before final track 'Revengeance', written about Dana Wells, Max's stepson who was killed in a car accident in 1996, closes this album in fine style; a real family affair it is too with Cavaleras, Richie, Zyon and Igor Jr guesting on vocals, guitar and drums respectively.
You can hardly say that Max Cavalera, and Soulfly, are back because he, they, never really went away: back on form, yes. Stricken with Bell's Palsy recently, the temporary condition that is a form of facial paralysis, Max Cavalera can, given the swell of admiration and plaudits sure to follow the release of 'Enslaved', at least be able to raise half a smile.
To pick up your copy of 'Enslaved (Special Edition)' - CLICK HERE