Being born out of one of the most influential heavy metal bands of recent years, Soulfly have always been compared to what came before. Which is a shame, because Max Cavalera and co are actually a really kick ass heavy metal band. Savages is their ninth album and see’s Zyon Cavalera, Max’s son, sitting behind the drum kit for the first time.
Starting a heavy metal album with an air raid siren has been done to death, Soulfly obviously don’t care though as “Bloodshed” does exactly that, before launching straight into a heavy metal song that is heavy on the word heavy. There’s a galloping riff underneath and a nice guitar solo half way through, but this is Soulfly giving you Soulfly by numbers. There is nothing wrong with it, but it’s unlikely to blow your mind. This idea continues into the Slayer inspired “Cannibal Holocaust” which is an unrelenting slab of extreme metal that doesn’t give you time to catch your breath. Again though, it’s nothing special but is sure to make sure you don’t turn off quite yet.
The biggest issue I have with this album is in it’s length. There is only one song on it under four minutes long and only two under five. When I’m listening to incredibly technical metal I’m okay with that kind of statistic. When I’m listening to balls out, groove filled extreme metal it seems a bit much. While Soulfly’s back catalogue isn’t filled with 3 minute pop songs, there is a feeling throughout the album that it could have used losing a chunk of its running time.
Despite this, it’s still an album that can grab your attention. With Max still not worried about throwing in a bit of the nu-metal vibe that has found it’s way into quite a few of Soulfly’s albums over the years. Tracks like “Spiral” and “Fallen” have that trademark bounce running through them. While “This is Violence” even has some record scratching moments. Thankfully, Soulfly do it well and it is saved from becoming too daft by Max’s distinctive vocals, which keep everything on track. As usual he is on top form and while his voice may be struggling live he sounds fine on record. There are plenty of shout along choruses on the likes of “Masters of Savagery”, that will mean he won’t have to do all the work on future tours.
Talking about Cavalera’s, Zyon’s first stint behind the kit can be seen as a success, with tracks like “This is Violence” giving him the chance to show he can pull off that tribal drumming sound that has made all Cavalera bands so distinctive. While those Latin American influences continue to make an appearance on the likes of “El Comegente” with the flamenco guitar being cracked out half way through this eight minute long epic. Meanwhile, a cameo from Neil Fallon (Clutch) helps all seven and a half minutes of “Ayatollah of Rock ‘n’ Rollah” not become too tedious, although surely Chris Jericho would have been a better option there? While Mitch Harris (Napalm Death) does a good job of screaming along with Max on “K.C.S.” (Which inventively stands for Kill, Cut, Scalp.)
All in all Savages is a very solid heavy metal album, the kind we have come to expect from Soulfly. It is unlikely to change anyone’s world but it provides a few more tracks to their bow for the next time they hit the road. The Cavalera’s aren’t quite dead yet and with a new generation coming through, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a name we were still uttering for a long time yet.
For Fans of: Slayer, Cavalera Conspiracy
Choice Cuts: “This is Violence”, “Cannibal Holocaust”