Posts by Raymond:
Max Cavalera is living legend in metal. Many of the older metalheads vividly remember him as the charismatic frontman of Sepultura. Back in 1996 Max left his old band and shortly after a resurfaced with a new band, called Soulfly. His career kept on flourishing while Sepultura steeply declined after releasing a couple of haphazard albums. Despite Max’s recent reunion with his brother Igor under the Cavalera Conspiracy guise, Soufly is still his main musical vehicle. Enslaved is the title of his latest musical venture.
Enslaved is first and foremost an excersise in Max’s hardcore and thrash metal roots. There are even some death metal flourishes here and there, courtesy of bassist Tony Campos (Prong, Ministry) and former Borknager skinsman David Kinkade. Unlike on the first three Soufly records, extensive forays into world music, dub and reggae are virtually non-existent on Enslaved. Only On “Gladiator” and “Redemption Of Man By God” “American Steel” and “Revengeance” is there some room for some more experimental parts.
The common thread through all Soufly albums is Max Cavelera’s familiar bark, his profound love for straightforward guitar riffs and powerful choruses. ‘World Scum”, “Gladiator” and “Legions” are poignant examples of how potent the old Cavelera formula still is.
A special mention should go the refined guitar playing by Marc Rizzo. His tasteful leads and solos add a level of sophistication to the Soulfly song material and it acts as the perfect counter balance for the straightforward and brute force which characterises Maxs’ style of playing. Each Soulfly album features a couple of guest musicians and Enslaved is no exception to that rule. This time around DevilDriver frontman Dez Fafara added some screams on “Redemption Of Man By God”. Travis Ryan of Cattle Decapitated fame did the same on “World Scum”.
The production chores were skillfully handled by Zeuss (Hatebreed, Agnostic Front) and Max himself. They gave Enslaved a direct, yet gritty sound. This enhances the overall aggressive feel of this album.
Drummer David Kinkade described Enslaved as “Arise on crack”. I think he’s right on the money there, because this album matches the ferocity and class of that famous landmark in Sepultura’s history. Soulfly may not be the cutting edge band it once was, but it’s still a relevant bulwark of power in today’s metal scene. Enslaved is a poignant celebration of Max Cavelera’s musical vision and his longivity.
“There are metal bands and there’s Lamb Of God” … “In 2012, Lamb of God remain the pre-eminent metal band and not by default”… “Everyone else is left to watch and marvel, and choke on their dust”. This is just a random selection of quotes from the enclosed biography for Resolution, the latest LAMB OF GOD album. Talk about bloated mindless PR banter.
On to the music then. Wrath, the previous LOG album, left me pretty cold. It was aggressive and full of the usual vim and vigour, but the lack of dynamics and depth made it a fairly one-dimensional listening adventure. This time around, the guys from Richmond decided on a slightly more varied and experimental approach, just as they did on Sacrament. Don’t expect any frolics in vein of King Crimson, Cynic or Mastodon, but just enough nifty details to keep the music fresh and exciting.
The doom metal references in “Straight For The Sun”, the blues/southern rock-styled intro of “Ghost Walking”, the creepy atmosphere on “The Number Six” and the accentuated bass-lines in “Invictus” are all examples of why Resolution has more to offer than its rather one-dimensional predecesor. The punk rock oannotations on “Cheated” and the use of female opera vocals on “King Me” are further indications that Blyth and Co aren’t afraid to look past their musical boundaries from time to time. Don’t worry, Resolution still has enough typical LOG stompers to offer in the form of “Desolation”, “Guilty”, “Insurrection” and “Terminally Unique”.
The wolverine-styled vocals by Randy Blythe and the impeccable drumming by Chris Adler are once again the main attractions. Mark Morton and Willie Adler still showcase their guitar prowess from time to time, but it doesn’t get quite to the level of Ashes In Their Wake or Sacrament. A shame really. Another point of critique is the relatively long length of the album. With fourteen(!) tracks covering almost an hour worth of music it takes a lot from the attention span of the listener, especially with this type of engaging and ferocious style of metal. Perhaps cutting back to 45 or 50 minutes would have been a smarter idea.
Despite this, I do consider Resolution to be one of the finer moments in the LOG catalogue. It showcases enough new elements to keep the album fresh and exciting, yet retains the trademark aggression and blue collar working ethic to keep the core fan-base happy.
Whether this album justifies the ridiculously bloated statements in the PR material remains to be seen. Regardless, Blythe and Co are still the real deal and Resolution is a clear sign that they won’t slow down any time soon.
About the Author
Raymond is an occasional contributor and guest blogger here. He heads up the Dutch magazine Alternative Matter, which is growing in leaps and bounds and makes me all excited about the future of rock journalism. You can find him on Twitter @HomeNucleonics.