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With a new lineup (except for Max) comes a new sound, more or less. There's still nu-metal on this album but this is the album where Soulfly starts to move into a more metal direction. Perhaps after six years of creating substandard, boring nu-metal, Max wanted to return to his roots? But there are still elements from the previous two albums here - still nu-metal, still the tribal themes, and a song with another nu-metal musician doing guest vocals. Does One get to join Jumpdafuckup and Bleed in the dunce corner?
The nu-metal on this album is unremarkable. Downstroy sounds like it has a recording of some alien bird whirling in the background and Seek 'N' Strike has a cliche overused syncopated groove that is common in nu-metal. One is somewhat more atmospheric, and I don't mind Christian's vocals. I was even into Ill Niño quite a while ago and consider them a more tolerable nu-metal band. I certainly don't hate this song and find the chorus rather catchy. Brasil is a tribal nu-metal tribute to Max's motherland. Four Elements is only remarkable for the tribal break toward the end heralding the nature of the last several songs on the album.
My first thoughts about Tree of Pain was "Wow! Soulfly has a ballad?", it starts calmly enough and has a soothing melodic voice of Asha (who sang on Flyhigh in Primitive), but in the middle it suddenly explodes into a fury of groove-laden pseudo-thrash and nu-metal with Max screaming overtop about his pain. Richie Cavalera makes a guest appearance here too with youthful screaming more suitable for hardcore before the song returns to the calm, tropical ballad of the start of the song. It seems stitched together, this would have been better as two different songs, instead of a crazy and mediocre nu-metal song smacked in the middle of a gentle ballad. Still, the point of the song is grief, both toward Asha's friend D-Low and Max's stepson Dana Wells, and the song communicates both somber grief and furious anguish of loss.
Soulfly III is truly a shining star on this album as it effectively transports the listener to someplace else. The acoustic sitar sounds off throughout the song with a distinctly Indian melody, fitting as this album does feature the symbol of Om - a sacred syllable for Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Otherwise stylistically it isn't that much different from the previous Soulfly instrumentals, and it's the only song on here that could be worth meditating to. Zumbi closes the album with another tribal instrumental that is rather quiet and laid back.
Nevertheless, there are moments when the band sounds like they are trying to get away from nu-metal, or at least branch from it instead of creating an album that is more or less monotonous on the heavy parts. Enter Faith has some groove metal elements, L.O.T.M is trying its hardest to be a thrash song, and Sangue De Bairro, a cover of a song by Chico Science & Nação Zumbi, is sort of thrashy, but also quite tribal in nature. With the energetic sitar joining in I actually found myself headbanging to this song at the end.
One Nation is a thrash-metal cover of Sacred Reich's song from their Surf Nicaragua EP, and a couple of the members lend assistance to Soulfly on this song - so yes this song thrashes! Is it good thrash? The somewhat-rapped vocals kind of put me off, but the riffs are decent enough despite containing the palm-muted downtuned sound that pervades the heavy riffs on this album. I thoroughly enjoyed the solo though. After this is a minute of silence in tribute to the victims of the September 11th terrorist attacks followed a minute of violence in the form of Call To Arms. This song gave me chills, because it is the angriest song on here and having it follow 9-11-01 is a clear message to bomb the shit out of the terrorists. It's a crossover/thrash song, it's frenetic energy is quite refreshing, the only downside being its short length - but its message is clear and concise.
This album is a definite improvement over Primitive, but it's still not something I see myself meditating to anytime soon. There are still some shining moments, such as the beginning and ending of Tree of Pain as well as Soulfly III, Call to Arms and One Nation.