Tuesday, October 18, 2005

I'm the Nailbomb

Soulfly – Dark Ages

Death metal normally doesn't do a whole lot for me. It can be fun, especially live, but the only members of the genre who I'd go out and buy albums buy are (older) Sepultura and Soulfly. Soulfly's last album Prophecy was pretty good, nothing life changing but some good heavy shit, so I was really looking forward to this one.

And it delivers, more or less meeting expectations by being pretty much exactly more of the same again. One of the things that make Sepultura and Soulfly different from similar bands is the incorporation of classical and traditional 'ethnic music' (I usually really dislike that term) into their songs. On Prophecy nearly every track began or ended with a mellowed out genre shift to music with a middle eastern or south american feel, or contained a flamenco guitar solo or something similarly unconventional. There are fewer of these kinds of things on Dark Ages, which is a bit of a disappointment, but the few that there are are pretty good.

There are also some electronic touches on a few of the songs, which was a bit unexpected. Riotstarter is an unusual metal derivation of The Prodigy's Firestarter, which works really well. Drum and bass mixed with metal usually does, and why it isn't done more often I don't know. The March is a short but cool military sounding anthem, driven by what sounds like either an overworked drum machine or some very processed acoustic drums.

The album proper ends with the traditional Soulfly track, a pretty, laid back instrumental without a trace of anger or a single distorted guitar. This album's version is a particularly good one, going for over ten minutes without even coming close to wearing out its welcome. After that we have a couple of bonus tracks. Salmo-91 is another album track, but a departure from the others in terms of style. It's moody and dark where the other metal tracks are all heavy and aggressive. It happens to be one of the best on the album, they should do more stuff like this. There are a few live tracks too, which are cool and all but not quite as good as the ones off Prophecy.

Max Cavalera's lyrics have never been anything to write home about, and nothing changes on this album. There's a bit of an anti-war theme this time around, but otherwise he mainly sticks to the same old subjects – his faith, his family and fucking people up. Of course, he does have a flare for catchiness and that's definitely still present; it's always fun to jump around and yell “People like you just fuel my hate!”

Overall I'd say that despite having a few excellent tracks this album doesn't quite live up to Prophecy. It's more straight out metal than that album, and when they do that they tend to sacrifice a bit of their songwriting talent in order to get that extra thrashyness. Prophecy managed to overcome this by incorporating other styles directly into the heaviest songs, but on this one they're kept separate, and the heavy songs miss out on a bit of what makes Soulfly different because of that.

No comments: