The exploitation of indigenous resources and the corruption of dictatorships may sound depressing, but Max Cavalera, front man for Phoenix, Ariz.-based metal band Soulfly, mused these topics to create a high octane, in-your-face LP, with tracks strong enough to stand alone as singles.
Void of dull moments and featuring cameos from Metal heavyweights, “Ritual,” Cavalera’s 11th album with Soulfly may also be one of the band’s best. The song “Dead Behind The Eyes,” despite no indication of featuring a guest, adds Randy Blythe’s (of Metal act Lamb of God) growls to the mic: “Dead behind the eyes, Do you purge fire, Shed light, Or let them come tonight? Nephilim, Seraphim, The lost paradise ...” while Cavalera delivers powerful lyrics adapted from British film franchise “Hellraiser.”
On “Ritual’s” fourth released album single, “Under Rapture,” Cavalera trades lyrics of a spiritual nature with Ross Dolan (of Metal group Immolation), while Max’s son, drummer Zyon Cavalera showcases his mastery of the skins. As if this track were a Pandora’s box of delightful Metal surprises, Soulfly also made the intriguing choice to blend electronic sounds, a first for them, to a doom-styled outro.
“Darkness inversion, Splendor of all that’s inhuman ... Immortal ascension, divine intervention,” Max Cavalera and Dolan bellow, before Zyon Cavalera’s well-executed tempo breakdown takes over.
Elsewhere, dashes of Metallica can be felt, from the aforementioned composition to “The Summoning,” but the real magic of this album lies with the tracks that are more aligned with the term dedication.
“Evil Empowered,” might as well be called “Rise Above,” due to the track being heavily influenced by California punk group Black Flag’s song “Rise Above,” and features another pulverizing performance from Zyon Cavalera.
“Feedback!,” on the other hand, shows guitarist Mark Rizzo continuing into thrash territory with his lead licks in the style of Metal band Motörhead, as Max Cavalera muses about his life on the road, while also tributing Lemmy Kilmister, who fronted Motörhead, for 30 years, until his death in 2015.
Twenty-two years on, and Soulfly drops the mic with “Ritual.” If they aren’t yet revered by Metal fans in the same light as Motörhead or Metallica, perhaps it’s time.
If you enjoy Soulfly or have a newfound interest in them, be sure to check out their show at 7 p.m., Sept. 29, at the Whisky a Go Go.
*Album content is explicit.