Fronted as always by Max Cavelera, Soulfly have lived through enough line-up changes in the past to carry on strong no matter who joins or leaves their fold and deliver more of the same Thrash, Groove and World Music inspired Metal that the band have been creating since their inception a decade and a half ago.
Enslaved is the band’s eighth studio album. It was released in 2012 and finds the band recording with a new rhythm section as bassist Bobby Burns (who had been in the band since 2003) and drummer Joe Nunez (who was in the band since 2000, except for one album) get replaced by Tony Campos of Static-X and David Kinkade of Borknagar.
Lead guitarist Marc Rizzo is now the band’s second longest lasting member behind Max himself, and has become more and more integral to the band’s sound and direction since joining in 2003 (in addition to appearing in alongside Max in his other band Cavelera Conspiracy.)
Where Enslaved fits in with the rest of the band’s catalogue is definitely closer in style to the sound found on the faster and darker albums like Dark Ages than the fun and bouncy tribal sing along albums like Primitive. It is probably the most straight forward, serious and un-experimental sounding album the band have ever done, which counter-intuitively lends the record a really interesting an vital sound.
The style at this stage is completely absent of any Nu Metal influence, with the drumming and guitar generally a lot more clinical and thrash influenced than ever before, however the manage to do so in a manner that feels entirely modern and nothing like homage to the 1980s. The main riff of ‘Treachery’ for example feels almost like it could have been written by Chimaira’s Rob Arnold, and the huge string bends at the beginning of 'Chains' sound a little like recent Cannibal Corpse tracks in a subtle sort of a way.
Enslaved also carves its own position in the Soulfly catalogue by having removed all traces of the World Music interludes, intros and outros that had peppered all of the band’s previous work to at least some extent. Furthermore, the band even went as far as not including a Self-Titled instrumental track in the main album like they had always done on previous records (although one does crop up on the special edition. )
One thing that Soulfly have never been able to stop themselves doing however is include guest appearances by other famous musicians, and on Enslaved this once again proves to be the case as Dez Fafara of Devildriver sings on the track "Redemption Of Man By God," while Travis Ryan of Cattle Decapitation appears on the surprisingly Death Metal influenced lead single ‘World Scum.’
Overall, Enslaved is a strong, well written and immaculately produced album by a confident and mature band. The direction is dark, precise and heavy modern metal music with a lot of shredding, a lot of speed and no messing around. If your favourite Soulfly albums were the first two and you don’t usually enjoy any Thrash or Extreme Metal then it might not be what you wanted, but if you have enjoyed the direction that the band have been heading in for the last three or four albums then you will be happy to find them charging further down that path and sounding good doing it.