Soulfly is less of a band then the whims of Max Cavalera and thankfully for metal fans that man contains many layers. It is amazing to think Soulfly has been creating music in some form for over 15 years at this point and Max has continued his tried and true process of heavy, a splash of exotic, groove part, heavy, mini solo, some speed and a extra helping of heavy; moving away from nu-metal in the process.
The lineup this time out finds Max joined by Mark Rizzo on Guitar, Prong/Ministry/Static X bass player Tony Campos and Norwegian Black Metal drummer David Kinkade who replaces the much loved Joe Nunez. Enslaved finds this new band in heavier form then any other collection of musicians Cavalera has assembled for this project in the past and dare I say it, at times manages to recall early days of Sepultura in style, if not up to that frantic energy level.
“Resistance” is a table setting brief blast of double bass and guitars with an ominous orchestral backing that gives the opening track a marching off to war feel. Max has decided to sing about slavery (as you could have probably guessed from the title), not breaking any new ground there but the lyrics at least fit his screams. A few exceptions are the odd sounding “Hail Caesar” chants which form the foundation of “Gladiator” and the rattling of rhetoric that fuels “Chains”.
Elsewhere death metal takes hold and exhilarates on the first single “World Scum” which gets vocal growling help from Cattle Decapitation frontman Travis Ryan. It is an assaulting track with a sing along chorus that will surely be explosive in the live setting. Some straight ahead heavy metal appears on “Intervention” and “American Steel” which sprinkles in touches of wah-wah and middle eastern tinges. “Redemption of Man by God” is some highly infectious spiritual speedmetal with vocal help from Dez Fafara that gets the thrash amped to go along with the headbanging.
The album is rock solid without any tack on tracks but two of the highest points happen towards the end with “Treachery” and “Plata O Plomo”. “Treachery” has a death metal spine but showcases a beautifully melodic guitar solo halfway into things, appeasing aggression fans and musical snobs alike. “Plata O Plomo” finds Cavalera singing in Spanish about the Escobar Drug Trade over a meaty groove and flamenco guitar lines, an instant classic.
Overall things are as consistent and arguably heavier than ever for Soulfly on Enslaved. Knowing Max’s history things will probably switch up before the next album but it would be interesting to see where this core of musicians could take their aggressive sound.