When Sepultura and Max Cavalera parted ways in 1996, fans were the ones who got the shaft. Instead of the thrash powerhouse we’d had up to that point, we got two mediocre acts that, while both having their moments, never came close to delivering anything with the power of Arise or Chaos A.D.

Over the course of his past several records with Soulfly, though, Cavalera has slowly started to change that. The nu-metal trappings of the early records (complete with large, trendy lists of guest performers) started to fall away on 2005’s Dark Ages and even moreso on 2008’s Conquer. The trend continues with the band’s latest Omen.

“Bloodbath & Beyond” gets the album kicked off with a short, raging thrash-punk riff under Cavalera’s trademark roars, but a twist about halfway through adds some depth to it as guitarist Marc Rizzo adds a soaring, melodic lead that’s a welcome break. It’s a trend that’s repeated throughout the record. Rizzo’s clean, tasteful guitar leads serve as an interesting counterpoint to the tribal brutality of the music, yet it all works together well.

There are guests on the record, but they bring a little more metal cred than some of the past guests. Greg Puciato of Dillinger Escape Plan handles about half the vocal duties on first single “Rise of the Fallen.” I’ve never been a fan of DEP, but I enjoy Puciato’s work on this track, particularly in the slower portion toward the end of the song. The play between his reedier vocals and Cavalera’s grunts is interesting. The second guest is Prong’s Tommy Victor on the groove-laden “Lethal Injection,” which plays a bit like a cross between Pantera and Sepultura.

Not every song here is a winner. “Jeffrey Dahmer” is the primary offender for me. I have reservations about songs that glorify serial killers to begin with, but particularly when the lyrics are as banal as these. Cavalera also falls back into his long-time habit of shouting the title over and over as a chorus that sometimes gets annoying on songs like “Vulture Culture” and “Counter-Sabotage,” which is a bit of a shame considering the latter has a great groove portion.

The problems, however, are easy to overlook because of the upside of the record – a collection of solid thrashers that bring Cavalera a bit closer to his roots. “Great Depression,” for example, wouldn’t strike most people as out of place on Arise. The majestic guitar riff of “Kingdom” puts the spotlight back on Rizzo, as does the top-notch guitar work on the beginning of “Mega-Doom.” It shows that Rizzo deserves at least as much credit for the success of this record as Cavalera.

As always, Cavalera and Co. also deliver up a more mellow world music piece, and here it’s “Soulfly VII,” which closes the record. The song has some Latin and reggae influence, in addition to influence from 1980s instrumental shredders like Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. It really becomes another showpiece for Rizzo, and while I usually prefer my album closers to be blistering numbers that leave the listener lying dazed in the dust trail of the truck that just hit them, I do really like this piece. As with most everything Rizzo does on the record, it’s very tasteful and appealing to the guitarist in me.

Omen continues Max Cavalera’s return to what made me a fan of Sepultura, and while it’s still not quite there yet, it’s getting closer. Like Dark Ages and Conquer, Omen still has a few leftovers from the more commercial sound of Soulfly’s early days, but they’re fading and easily being overpowered by the tribal thrash that we know and love. It’s another win for Cavalera, and another win for fans.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Fred Phillips
August 6th, 2010


  1. Commented by: faust666

    fuck the fuck up !!!

  2. Commented by: AARONIUS

    I just can’t bring myself to give Soulfly a chance anymore.

    There are just too many other more interesting bands out there these days, and I’m tired of waiting for Soulfly or Sepultura to make another album that is as good as Arise or Chaos A.D.

    Also Max’s lyrics are horrible. Really horrible.

  3. Commented by: Apollyon

    Didn’t feel the new one. Uinspired. Boring, even. Conquer was good, with some excellent songs, but Dark Ages is the one I return to the most.

    Skip this and give the two previous albums a shot Aaronius, even if there’s no Arise in those at all. But, since you dug Chaos A.D, they might just work. Might.

  4. Commented by: Dimaension X

    don’cha hate when the only chorus is the song title sang or shouted over and over and over – reminds me of the worst moments of recent Iron Maiden – “We’re Blood Bruuuthers, We’re blood bruuuuhterrrrreeerrrrrsss, … We’re Blood Bruuuthers, We’re blood bruuuuhterrrrreeerrrrrsss, …We’re Blood Bruuuthers, We’re blood bruuuuhterrrrreeerrrrrsss, …We’re Blood Bruuuthers, We’re blood bruuuuhterrrrreeerrrrrsss, …” GAWD please just STOP!!

  5. Commented by: Apollyon

    “We’re blood bruuuuhterrrrreeerrrrrsss!!!”

    Sorry. Had to do it one more time.

  6. Commented by: emperorjvl

    HAHAHA.. that’s exactly what drove me off the Maiden Concert a couple of weeks ago mid-show (with not a SINGLE old song being played at the time – they were obviously leaving it for the end, but I just couldn’t stand the new stuff).

    “We’re blood bruuuuhterrrrreeerrrrrsss!!!” AGH.

  7. Commented by: Dave

    It’s funny how as nu metal has fallen farther and farther out of style, Max has moved Soulfly away from it. Sorry, but I see this band as Max’s transgression against the metal community and I’m unwilling to forgive him, no matter how much he improves his current product. The man is a poseur.

  8. Commented by: Fred Phillips

    Heh. Figured I’d be in the minority on this one, and I see I am.

    Shifting gears, the repeated choruses aren’t a new thing for Maiden. Heard “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” today for the first time in a while and was laughing about the very same thing. “Seventh son of a seventh son, seventh son of a seventh soooon,” ad nauseum. As I understand, they’re not playing much, if any, old stuff at all on this tour. As much as I love Maiden, I’d probably skip this one for that reason.

  9. Commented by: Blackwater Park

    New album is pretty good. Rise of The Fallen is a badass song.

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