Soulfly... Max Cavalera's post-Sepultura project. Could it be possible the nu-metal abomination the former thrash superstars had become was not Max's fault? It seems so- for exactly 12 seconds.
That's how long this album plays for before descending into utter nu-metal cack. The simplistic rhythms, the "tribal" percussion, the inane lyrics, the downtuned sludge, the tuneless rapping. How can the man responsible for such masterpieces as "Beneath The Remains" and "Point Blank" lose it so completely?
Song after dreadful dribbling song drones past, the only difference on each track being the guest musicians. So there's Dino and Burton from Fear Factory on "Eye For An Eye" It's hard to tell. Fred Durst is on "Bleed". He's only noticeable because he's a worse vocalist than Max.
OK, so Max was going through a very tough time in his life. Forced to choose between his wife and his brother, he chose his wife. His stepson Dana was murdered. The loss of any family member is hard to comprehend unless it has happened to you, and Soulfly was a big part of Max's mourning process. While death and loss can inspire incredible works of emotion and feeling in some people, in Max Cavalera it inspired only directionless, formless insipidity.
Well, that's not quite entirely true. The title track "Soulfly" is a mostly acoustic instrumental, dedicated to the memory of Dana, and similar to "Kaiowas" on `Chaos AD' provides a change of pace for the album, as a contemplative, reflective interlude between all the bass heavy bludgeoning.
"Soulfly" is more the obvious successor of "Roots" than Sepultura's "Against", but very little new ground is covered which wasn't done better on "Roots". A number of tracks aspire to be "Rattamahatta", one of the more impressive songs on "Roots", but most fall flat as continuations of the substandard "Cut Throat". There are a few lyrical themes of note. A couple of songs touch on the story of Zumbi, a Brazilian slave who led other slaves to freedom. Max also rants about the corruption, crime and decay of society in his native Brazil, but never visits anything not covered on the previous two Sepultura albums.
However, songs like "Bumbklaatt", First Commandment" and "No" are just plain dumb. "No" in particular has some of the worst lyrics ever committed to tape-"No bullshit/No slaveship/No motherfucking Hootie and the Blowfish/No radio songs/No bow to none/No follow none/No politricks". No bullshit indeed.
There are a few odd interesting points in the album. The tribal chant intro to "Tribe" is far more attention grabbing than the remaining five minutes of the song. "Umbabarauma" is a highlight of the album. Basically a Portuguese football chant accompanied by slow samba-style music, it is catchy even to non-speakers of the language, and is actually a bit of fun. Hey, it ain't metal, but you can dance to it. "The Song Remains Insane" is a hardcore thrashabout which sounds a little like a demo for a Nailbomb song. The introduction to "Quilombo" sounds promising, with a thrash style guitar, but it is soon swamped by the omnipresent drone. The three bonus tracks on the limited edition version of this album are worthy of a listen. However, "Cangaceiro" a sub-thrash `Chaos AD' style song, and two Discharge covers are not worth the effort of sitting through the previous 15 tracks, but that’s why CD players have a skip button.
For fans of old school Sepultura, this album was Max's last chance. Sadly, it is simply not what long-time fans wanted. While musicians should always play what they are happy playing, completely ignoring the past is a dangerous game. The name Max Cavalera is now ridiculed by those who once respected it.