CD Review by Jerel Johnson
This year marks the 15th anniversary of Soulfly’s self-titled debut album. Listening to the band’s first album compared to its latest offering Savages, is like night and day. Savages harkens back to frontman Max Cavalera’s days in the legendary thrash metal outfit Sepultura. The groove and experimental sounds from the band’s first few albums is present, but there is a greater level of brutality on this album. Opening track “Bloodshed” proves the band has not lost its heavy groove while throwing in elements of thrash. Max’s son Zyon is the group’s new drummer and his second son, Igor Jr. sings the sorrowful chorus to harrowing effect. “Cannibal Holocaust” is a manic tribute to the infamous grindhouse film of the same name. The chunky guitars and grinding drums conjure images of running through the Amazon escaping bloodthirsty human man-eaters.
Several musicians from other bands make special guest appearances. Mitch Harris from Napalm Death offers his screeching vocals on the funky “K.C.S.”, and Clutch’s Neil Fallon gives an eerie spoken verse on the epic “Ayatollah of Rock n’ Rolla,” a complex track that is three songs in one. The record’s centerpiece is “El Comegente,” a sinister tale about Venezuelan serial killer and cannibal Dorangel Vargas. The opening progressive riffs sound like death during the “Symbolic” era before transitioning into a doomy, tribal beat. Bassist Tony Campos sings the middle section in Spanish similar to “Plata o Plomo” on 2012’s Enslaved. Guitarist Marc Rizzo’s closing acoustic solo proves why he is one of the best guitarists in metal. “El Comegente” is sure to be a staple at the band’s shows and is one of the best songs the band has written.
Soulfly can chalk up another victory in Savages. This is one of the best metal records of 2013 and arguably Soulfly’s heaviest record. Not too many bands possess the diverse qualities of Max and the boys. That alone will keep them atop the mountain for a long time.