Soulfly’s self titled debut album from 1998 has to be my least favourite Soulfly album. Soulfly have definitely since moved on to create some very strong material, but if I set aside nostalgia and judge this album fairly on its own merits I cannot claim it is a very good record.
The album sets the tone for most Soufly albums to come; the material blends together world music influences and groove metal along with Nu Metal sections like Sepultura’s 1996 album Roots, and similarly it was also produced by Ross Robinson, this time fresh from producing Limp Bizkit’s 1997 debut album Three Dollar Bill, Yall$.
Limp Bizkit’s front man Fred Durst (and also DJ Lethal) makes a guest vocal appearance on the album on the track `Bleed,’ but he isn’t the only musician to perform on the album aside from the members of Soulfly. Chino Marino from the Deftones shows up on `First Commandment,’ and Benji Webb from Skindred adds some of his distinctive flavour to `Prejudice.’
Even the album’s main single `Eye For An Eye,’ features Burton C Bell and Dino Cazarez from Fear Factory, who’s bassist Christian Olde Wolbers appears on yet another of the album’s tracks later on. All that is before you even consider the non-famous contributors like tribal percussionists and Max’s friends and relatives. The album is much more like a large project, some grand experiment like Probot or Roadrunner United than the debut album of a band who write songs together in a room.
I did like the album for a time, but it has not aged very well. I find it difficult to listen to in one sitting and think it is more of an album for cherry picking a few of the best moments from rather than sitting down to and consuming whole. Don’t get me wrong, even with all I’ve said there are some moments on the album that are very good, for example `Bumbklaat,’ and `Fire,’ are good songs.
I also like the intro to `First Commandment,’ even if it is a little too similar to Tool’s `Disgustapated,’ for comfort and finally `Eye For An Eye,’ is good even if you do sometimes feel a little like it is an attempt to repeat the success of Roots Bloody Roots however knowing or unknowingly that may be on Max’s part.
Overall though, the music for me at least is a little to plain and uninteresting during the proper metal sections, and the tribal sections do not fit as well as on subsequent Soulfly Records. This, coupled with the production and the aforementioned disjointed project feel makes this album Soulfly’s weakest in my opinion. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it is valueless and Soulfly fans should check it out and judge for themselves, but unfortunately this is not an album that I personally enjoy all that much.