Album Review: Soulfly – Enslaved
Posted by Reggie
I prefer not to read other album reviews before I write mine because I do not want outside interference with how I really feel about an album. In this case I went against my gut and read about three or four Enslaved reviews. They all complained of the same thing, predictability. I don’t understand. These reviews come from the same metal fans that crucified Metallica for trying something different, but now they crucify Max Cavalera for NOT coming up with something different. Yes, all of his bands; former and present do having striking similarities. Is that reason enough to stop listening to Soulfly? Don’t get me wrong, I love it when a band goes against the grain and shatters my expectations. But, I also find it comforting to know there are some bands that I can count on to give me what I expect.
I don’t normally keep Soulfly on my radar. When they release an album it’s more of a pleasant surprise. With this particular personification of Max Cavalera, I know I can expect three or four Soulfly songs I will enjoy for years. Needless to say, when Enslaved was released I bought it without hesitation just as I have the previous Soulfly albums. I buy them because there is something I expect from Soulfly…predictability; the thing everyone else seems to hate. For me, it’s a sureness I’m comfortable with.
With Enslaved I got exactly what I expected…but, just a bit more. Instead of the three or four songs that make my ears ring with exuberance, I am delighted with just about every song on the album. How could predictability make me so happy when it insults everyone else? Well, for one thing this album is the closest representation to a classic Sepultura reunion. Much of the tribal influences in Soulfly’s early beginnings have been pushed aside for a more thrash/death semblance of Sepultura’s Chaos A.D. or even Arise. Here we go more Supultura comparisons. As far as I’m concerned, Max was the embodiment of Sepultura. Therefore, everything he touches turns to Brazilian metal that he and his cohorts refined so well.
Taking Soulfly’s last four/five albums into consideration, Enslaved is better. Yes, it’s more of the same, but insert more balls and there you have Enslaved. I hate to simplify the comparison of Soulfly albums with the word balls, but it basically boils down to thrashability. Enslaved has balls! The addition of a new drummer and bassist has added a level of ferocity I felt was lacking from the last several releases. Lyrically, Enslaved is on par with other Soulfly work; short choppy lyrics that sound as if they were designed around the music instead of with it. Scream this word because it fits and sounds angry, not because it actually makes sense. Thankfully there is incessant demise somewhere in the world so Max will have something to sing about. Enslaved continues the trend of angst-ridden lyric.
As you would expect…or predict – there’s that word again. Max has invited guest musicians along for the ride. You may recognize Dez Fafara of DevilDriver singing along on Redemption of Man By God, probably the best song on the album. Travis Ryan of Cattle Decapitation also joins forces with Cavalera on World Scum. Max’s kids even joined in this time. These collaborations tend to be the better songs on Soulfly’s albums, Enslaved is no exception.
Enslaved is a pure thrash album that would awaken any calm metal crowd and throw them into a fist-flying frenzy. That’s all this album is; pure uncompromising thrash. Does it sound like classic Sepultura? Yes. What about Cavalera Conspiracy? Yeah, in some ways, but the songs are longer. Do I expect Max Cavalera to change the way I think about metal? No, not one bit. And that is the primary reason I like this album. I got what I wanted for Christmas…so to speak. Think of it as buying an iPhone every year. The new model is mostly the same, just a little bit better. And there you have Soulfly’s Enslaved. More of the same, but better.