Review Summary: Added dynamics and tight execution make Omen one of Soulfly's most interesting and varied releases to date
While 2005’s Dark Ages
was a revitalization of sorts, its follow-up Conquer
brought back the all-important question: is it time for Soulfly to call it quits before they succumb into mediocrity, or have the guys got any unused tricks left up their sleeves to break out of their comfortable yet extremely repetitive zone" Conquer
wasn’t a bad album at all, in fact it was a pretty fun listen, but it was just too much of the same old. Thick grooves, little variety, overbearing chugging, Cavalera’s gruff shouts and screams – all of this had been done before by Soulfly many times, and more successfully mind you. It did make one think about the possibility of them retiring soon - it seemed like Max Cavalera had nothing left to say with Soulfly. Now, in 2010, Omen
is bound to answer the aforementioned question, and that it does.
is still strictly a Soulfly record – that becomes evident straight from the get-go – but what it surprises the listener with, is how unexpectedly diverse it is for a Soulfly album. That is somewhat relative, as for a metal album Omen
isn’t really that multifarious, but when you compare it to some of Soulfly’s past efforts like Conquer
, it does sound a lot more varied. Omen
is still run by thick, digging grooves and chugging guitarwork, but this time around the lead guitar has been given a lot more conspicuous role, which means there are some pretty stellar leads constantly playing over the chugging. The opening track "Bloodbath & Beyond" is a complete opposite of this, being practically a full-fledged thrash song with relentless chugging, but onwards from the second track "Rise of the Fallen", the leads are perpetually prominent. Solos aren’t few and far between either, regularly making their way into the songs – a feature never before used by Soulfly. They’ve had solos in some of their songs in the past, but never have they been prominent throughout the album. Time signatures are also more salient on Omen
, as Cavalera has finally noticed he shouldn't fill a full LP with 55 minutes of corresponding, nonstop chugging, like it was on Conquer
. It might be fun for a while, but eventually the constant chugging wears one down.
What else is surprising on Omen
, is the paucity of tribal beats and native instruments. This lack of tribal themes was already exhibited on Conquer
, and Omen
firmly continues on that path. Is the omission of them for the better or worse is actually very hard to say, because while they did compliment earlier Soulfly releases well, there is a strong possibility they might’ve become trite and uninspired if used too much. So in that aspect, the exclusion of them seems like a potentially good move. Besides, the band are thankfully still ending their albums with self-titled instrumental pieces, and "Soulfly VII" might even be the best of the series yet. Incredibly chill and laid-back, it finishes the album on a terrific note.
When all is said and done, Omen
is still a Soulfly album through-and-through, but added dynamics and more diverse song structures raise it above most of the band’s back-catalogue. Omen
shows that Soulfly have still room to improve and evolve, and it's clearly too early to count them out. If they slowly but surely keep modifying their nu-thrash sound like they have done on Omen
, and avoid stagnation, Soulfly have the potential to go far. Max Cavalera and co. have clearly got plenty left to say.