Review Summary: Forever a Ritual. Soulfly stay the course.Ritual
is one of those unremarkably remarkable albums. For what it’s worth Max Cavalera has been part of his own musical movement for the better part of thirty four years, spreading influence through the likes of Sepultura, Cavalera Conspiracy and of course Soulfly. History lessons aside, Soulfly have been pumping out groove based thrash bangers since the late nineties with varying levels of success and memorability. Ritual
is a return to form, to memorability within the Cavalera camp. That’s not to say that Soulfly needs an over lift or an upgrade, rather the day to day musical works have seen their share of autopilot (even if that autopilot was/is consistently good to great) giving less stock to the staying power of Soulfly as a whole. 2018 kicks away the stigma of a band just going through the motions and offers listeners one of the year’s better mainstream metal albums.
Predictably, the new Soulfly album kicks off in the typical Soulfly manner. Tribal noises trickle through, building into a mid tempo groove complete with Cavalera’s “oi”. With all the focus on the Cavalera camp, it’s easy to forget that Soulfly’s roots are in fact... Roots
, whether the band would like to admit it or not. The album’s title track (and opener) is the most Sepultur-ian track Soulfly has produced since the debut. Rituals
succeeds in its simplicity, varying off the tried and true formula only where it needs to. With Randy Blythe’s (Lamb Of God) seminal shrieks and growls added to “Dead Behind The Eyes” Soulfly blast out an unwitting thrash onslaught, accessibly foregoing on self-indulgent nuances that scream “look at us!” A straight-forward carrying groove dominates the record, adding to the aging vibrancy of Max’s gruffly presented yells. The industrialist edges that meet with Soulfly’s metallic agenda offer up some of the band’s most sincere and well thought riffs (of debatably) the group’s career. The utmost thrash-y heaviness of the Ross Dolan (Immolation) featured “Under Rapture” again lifts the bar on the typical Soulfly soundscape.
is not an all out octane affair. The opening acoustic passages add some tribal flamenco semblance to “Demonized” before heading back into the predictable full-tilt riff fest that has dominated most of Cavalera’s career. In typical fashion, “Soulfly XI” offers up the smooth tones of brooding instrumental, complete with that all important saxophone melody to keep fans proverbially wetting their pants. It’s an excellent respite from the usually aggressive Soulfly that conscripts any album under that moniker. There is a question on the instrumental tracks placement however, as it would have definitely increased Ritual
’s overall replay value had it broken the onslaught straight down the middle.
For most, if you haven’t been swayed into appreciating any post-Sepultura efforts from Max and his family, Rituals
is the closest you’ll come to a musical conversion. While Cavalera and co. may just be bringing back their older musical styles (which to be fair, aren’t that different from their modern styles) it’s the band’s fans which benefit the most. With an emphasis on Soulfly’s rhythmic approach to the music they’ve been executing for the best part of two decades, there’s not a whole lot going on here that listeners haven’t heard before, but with renewed vigour and dedication to the very bones of the sounds that got the band to where they are Ritual
will actually turn the focus back onto the Cavalera family. It’s amazing what a band can churn out, given that they just go back to their roots