It is undebatable that Max Cavalera is one of the most interesting, hard working musicians in the metal industry, let alone the whole of music. Forming so many different projects such as Sepultura, Nailbomb, Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy AND Killer Be Killed, the man has one of the most extensive resumes that he can call his own. That’s not to be said that he hasn’t had some of his weak spots (Soulfly’s ‘Primitive’), but he’s also had his real strong points (Soulfly’s ‘Enslaved’) that complement each other in progression and intelligence. The real question though, is whether or not the upcoming Soulfly record, ‘Ritual’, lives up to the standards of metal today, or did it flop? Well, to put it very, very lightly, ‘Ritual’ is one of the best Soulfly records to date, let alone Cavalera’s career.
The introduction to the record, title track Ritual truly sets the tone as furious, angry and thunderous. Beginning with a tribal soundtrack, guitarist Marc Rizzo wastes no time rushing to his whammy pedal, bringing forth one of the most basic, yet one of the most ‘get psyched’ build-ups I’ve heard in a long time. Pounding through the track with relentless fury and anger, Soulfly managed to dig back to their Nu-Metal/Thrash roots and prove to their fans, and most importantly to themselves, that they haven’t forgotten where they’ve come from, treating this track as a violent callback filled with brutality and impressive riffage.
Don’t be preconceived by this notion that the whole album is going to be filled with old school groove metal and nu metal however, as the following track Dead Behind The Eyes steps into their thrash metal territory, with pulverizing riffs, hardcore/trash influenced beats and angry, intimidating vocal performances by Cavalera and guest vocalist Randy Blythe of Lamb of God.
Drummer Zyon Cavalera (Max’s son) shines incredibly throughout the progression of ‘Ritual’, particularly in tracks such as Evil Empowered, filled with violent double bass lines that complement the other instruments and vocals competently. After pushing through catchy riffs and violent riffage, Evil Empowered has one of the most insanely heavy, death metal influenced breakdowns to come from Soulfly in recent years, bound to start mosh pits in the biggest extent.
Following with the ‘ritual’ of Soulfly, the most interesting and captivating tracks on the album is the closing track, Soulfly XI. Purely an instrumental track, it strips back from the metal roots and throws itself into almost a jazz-like territory, bringing ‘Ritual’ to an outstandingly beautiful close. Along with the inclusion of clean guitars and acoustic guitars, the shakers and percussive instruments that are popular in the tribal music style are used create a gorgeous atmosphere that brings forth the album and encapsulates the feel of the record in a mirrored way. The best part about this song is that there is an incredibly prominent section with a saxophone, again projecting that Jazz feel and emotion that’s hard to capture with any other instrument. With more bands these days utilizing more than just the typical ‘Vocalist, 2 guitars, bassist and drummer’ lineup (or variations of it) and instrumentals, it’s always refreshing to find sections that throw a much-needed touch of a different instrument into a song, especially when it doesn’t feel forced (in this case, it really isn’t).
Drawing back to their roots while also developing their sound to new strengths, Soulfly have come out with what is possibly their greatest, most diverse album to date, ‘Ritual’. After blowing through and touching on many different aspects in metal, from Death Metal, Thrash Metal and Groove Metal, this album brings Soulfly back into the game as one of the best in the business; I honestly cannot wait to hear what Max Cavalera has got coming next, because ‘Ritual’ proves he’s on a really good streak.
Pick up your copy of Soulfly ‘Ritual’ HERE!