SOULFLY - Enslaved [Review]

Genre: Groove Metal
Label: Roadrunner Records
Released: March 13th, 2012
Reviewer: Tristan French

Soulfly have always been a band known to bring the heavy, regardless of their popularity or the amount of recognition that they get. This being said, 2010’s “Omen” felt kind of dry. A good record in and of itself, elements of the record seemed repetitive as if the band were moving in a circle. I can safely say that this is not the case with Soulfly’s latest metal offering, “Enslaved.” When first described as “Arise on crack” and being the Cavalera fanboy that I am, I just had to give it a listen, and I can honestly tell you its one of the heaviest releases this year. I believe that this is partially due to the newer additions to Soulfly’s artillery, introducing former Static-X bassist Tony Campos and Norwegian death metal drum master “David Kinkade”, Soulfly are poised to shatter our heads once more!

Resistance” introduces us loosely to the themes and direction of the album, including a mix of extremely fast distorted guitarwork leading into the resonating blows of timpanis, offering the atmosphere of slaves being lead to their quarters, truly haunting indeed. Lead single “World Scum” follows, and to cut a long story short, this track summarises the word “brutal.” Featuring Cattle Decapitation’s frontman Travis Ryan, the vocals on this track encapsulate anger, frustration and pure rebellious feeling against those who would oppress others. Another prominent feature is that both new members receive the spotlight right off the bat, with Campos’ bass introduction setting the track’s rhythm from the start, and Kinkade’s double bass assault following suit. Of course, Max Cavalera and Marc Rizzo cannot be overlooked, through stellar riff work and brilliant time changes throughout!

Track number three, “Intervention” is where the “Arise on crack” statement begins to become true, with a very old-thrashy Sepultura vibe. Opening with a mid-paced thrash onslaught before settling into a slightly slower tempo, this track features some of the records best guitarwork, allowing Rizzo to show off his brilliant lead abilities. A return to the faster speed and of course gang vocals display even more prominently that Soulfly have almost done away with the flourishes of old and have returned to their pure thrash roots. Second single “Gladiator” follows featuring a haunting psychadellic-esque introduction before erupting into another pace racer, continuing the vibe heard on “Intervention.” Featuring some of Cavalera’s inescapable sitar work (which only adds to the ferocity) and some of the lowest growls from his vocal repertoire, this track is sure to be a live favourite.

Legions” and “American Steel” both continue the band’s battle march featuring some of the most oriental sounding riffs that I’ve heard in a while. “Legions” draws main focus to Kinkade’s ability to pull off time changes at an alarming pace, adding extra elements to the beat as the song progresses, while “American Steel” features one of the most pertinent breakdowns of the album, sure to heads banging, as well as some elements of some very unexpected bass effects.

Track seven introduces the album’s second featured vocalist, none other than DevilDriver’s energetic vocalist Dez Farfara. This track “Redemption of Man by God” literally defines the term “annihilation” as the question/answer approach adopted by both frontmen on the song’s chorus acts as a great display of their abilities, whilst providing a great contrast between Farfara’s higher screams and Cavalera’s more guttural vocals. A break mid song is needed to calm things down, as surely the excitement has reached unbelievable heights by now, leading into a clean outro, a fitting ending to such an awesome track!

One of my favourite tracks on the record is “Plata O Plomo”, sung in Portugese by Cavalera and Spanish by Campos. The result is an even more heartfelt song, recited in their native language making it sound insanely pure, almost like “Ratamahatta” from 1996’s Roots. This of course is only amplified by the sludgey atmosphere of the song, providing a great head bobbing rhythm whilst remaining ever so controlled, providing a great contrast the album’s thrashiest tracks. The inclusion of some classical guitar during both the pre-chorus and the outro once again offers a really earthy feel to this song, and contrasts greatly with the heaviness heard earlier.

The final song on this album is again one of the ones I’ve been favouring lately. Revengeance features Richie and Igor Cavalera Jr. as guest vocalists/guitarists and Zyon Cavalera on the drums, this track lyrically encapsulates the feelings felt by the Cavalera family at the murder of their brother/son. If anything, this song shows that brutality runs in the family, with both Igor and Richie offering a good mix of black metal-eqsue growls, and lower pitched gutterals. Zyon’s drumming is also extremely prevalent, going through time changes seemingly effortlessly. Max Cavalera has actually stated that most of the riffs were written by his sons, wanting to give them a chance to voice their anger. Slowing things right down to a great breakdown ends this record as ominously as it started. All I can say is it took a while for the goosebumps to go down.

Enslaved is definitely worth checking out, whether you’re an older Sepultura fan or preffered the earlier Soulfly stuff, there’s something on here from everyone. Although there’s no instrumental “Soulfly” track at the end of the standard edition of the album, I personally think it ends just as well, and brilliantly showcases each band members talents. I’m giving Enslaved an 8/10. Soulfly have clearly gone “back to the primitive”, and it’s worked!

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