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Album Reviews : Soulfly – Enslaved

By on May 9, 2012

“Enslaved” marks the eighth (yes 8!) album from Soulfly and a worthy follow-up to their fantastic “Omen” album of 2009. Aside from “Omen”, the past few albums released by Soulfly haven’t really hit the mark and high standards set by some of their earlier classic material. Albums like “Primitive” and “Prophecy” set the bar very high. Enslaved is much better than some of the past few releases, but still not the best we’ve seen from Soulfly.

“Resistance” kicks off proceedings on the new disc and is a very slow and brooding intro that builds to a huge crescendo. This is in between a song and an intro and brings back memories of some of Ministry’s finest work. “World Scum” explodes right off the bat and is as powerful a metal track as you are likely to hear in 2012. The thing that jumps out most from the offset is the inclusion of Dan Kincade on drums and Tony Campos on bass really has filled out the Soulfly sound. The new rhythm section completely owns this track (and many others). The anthemic powered rhythms are a much-welcomed return to the sound of the ‘Primitive’ album. It wouldn’t be a Soulfly album without guest vocalist, and a quick read of the booklet reveals that Ryan Travis of Cattle Decapitation lends his voice to “World Scum”. Speaking of vocalists, a common theme throughout the album that is very clear is that Max Cavalera has deepened his snarl substantially to the point where there are grindcore-influences in some of the vocals. This actually works quite well in the context of the album as a whole as it adds a completely different texture to it. Where the last few albums were “playing it safe”, Enslaved sees the band really experimenting on many fronts and pulling it off for the most part.  A definite highlight is “Redemption of Man by God” which sees Dez Fafara of Devildriver lending his snarls, however rather than the typical ‘one sings a chorus the other a verse’, this track sees Dez and Max trading vocals a few lines at a time. It’s like a vocal battle where the real winner is the listener. Again, this is something Soulfly has really tried before, but it is one of the things that is going to separate this album from many of the other Soulfly records to date.

“Gladiator” is another track that stands out on the album. It’s probably the most complex and diverse track on the album and surprisingly probably the track that stands out the most in terms of musical and lyrical themes. Middle-eastern passages and sitar make an appearance on this track along with some of the most ferocious riffing we have heard on a Soulfly album. Special mention should also be made of “Plata O Plomo” which sees Soulfly slow it down for a second and revert to the groove-metal that they are so good at. It features Spanish guitar and is sung in Spanish. Again, adding a different spin to the album as a whole.  On the flip side, there are some tracks that undo a lot of the good work of the above-mentioned songs. For example, “Revengeance” is a bit of a personal vehicle for Max and his family in that it features Max and all three of his sons and is a tribute to his other son who died in a car accident back in 1996. Their hearts may be in the right place, but It doesn’t feel much like a part of this album as it never really fits in. With several very different vocal stylings, it’s hard to know how to react to this track. Making it the last track on the album only makes it stand out even more and not necessarily in a good way.

In terms of an overall sound, “Enslaved” sees Soulfly speed up things quite a bit from their previous move groove-metal outings. This has much to do with the inclusion of Kincade and Campos who turn everything they touch to gold on this album. Fans of battering thrash will be all over this, but the trade off is that the quick tempo doesn’t really allow much space for the “groove” aspect of Soulfly to come through (except of tracks like the awesome “Plata O Plomo”). Again, this sets it apart from the last few discs, but at the same time it is now trending awfully similar to Cavalera’s other projects (Sepultura and Cavalera Conspiracy) in many parts of the new record. The drawback here is that Enslaved is a great “Soulfly” record, but its not a great Cavalera Conspiracy or Sepultura album and at times it floats in between these three projects.

‘Enslaved’ could have been so much worse than it actually was. It’s actually a solid album when all things are considered. While the album certainly has its flaws, it has many strengths and twists too.  “Enslaved” will definitely surprise a lot of people like myself who were ready to tear Soulfly a new one after the last few albums. Maybe not a great album per se, but a good album that holds enough respect to get a few spins. Soulfly fans and fans of diverse metal on the one album will enjoy this one. 7/10

Band: Soulfly
Album: Enslaved
Year:  2012
Genre: Groove / Thrash Metal
Location: USA
Label: Roadrunner Records Australia

Tracklisting:

Resistance
World Scum
Intervention
Gladiator
Legions
American Steel
Redemption of Man by God
Treachery
Plata O Plomo
Chains
Revengeance

About

Anwar is the editor-in-chief of Metal Obsession.net. When Anwar isn't busy promoting tours, interviewing bands and reviewing awesome music, he loves to collect metal vinyl and play video games. Follow Metal Obsession on Twitter and Facebook