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Ugh. Why did I buy this album? It is the first Soulfly album I ever bought and upon hearing it, the last. Being a fan of Sepultura's early output up too "Chaos. A.D" , and the occasional Sepultura album following Max's departure, I decided to give this band a fair chance. So I picked it up for a mere £1 online.
The music found on here is a mixture of mall core, post-thrash, groove and the occasional "experimental" section. The result is an hour long slog through this modern "Jump Da Fuck Up" take on metal. Every song contains what is needed for this god-awful style, fast "Br00tul" sections, breakdowns to satisfy mosh pit fiends, groove riffs and the use of irritating “tribal” samples.
To be fair, there are some good aspects to this album. Some riffs stick out and catch your ear, however they are often repeated far to many times to remain interesting. For example "Unleash" starts with a fairly generic breakdown style riff, that is then developed upon effectively. However as the track goes this repetitive pattern gets more and more annoying, you begin begging for and change and it comes. Slap bang in the middle of this track is an "ambient" section, these sections offer little, other than a break from the boredom that preceded them. This basically sums up the positives of this album, there are indeed some good , memorable guitar playing to found here. However these catchy ideas are often repeated for far too long, with VERY predicable song structuring. Upon-listening I would guess how the song would develop, and quite often my guess would be correct.
Songs like "Fall Of The Sycophants" can be frustrating to listen too. For example this track starts out fast and thrashy ( I was briefly reminded of "Arise"). After repetition of this thrashy section, we are treated to the mandatory slower section containing a mundane melodic guitar melody. However to justify this section, there is a very fast and fairly impressive solo to be found here. Sadly, the mood created by the solo is quickly destroyed by a rather predictable return to the previous fast section.
Another example of a frustrating song is "Doom". This starts out well, nice and thrashy, with a catchy chant of "Doom!". However following this is a highly irritating section where max shouts "Scream Motherfucker" over and over again. Following this is, you guessed it, a breakdown, followed by a VERY unfitting clean section. If they had dispensed of the "Scream motherfucker" and the clean section, this review's score could have gone up by 10%. The only track on here (If I remember correctly) that did not frustrate me to hear was "For Those About To Rot". This track is solid, not too much to complain about here other than its slight repetitiveness.
This highlights my main beef with this album, how inconsistent and repetitive it is. The music jumps from fast too slow, followed by breakdowns and these previously mentioned irritating "ambient" sections. A further example of these clean/ambient sections is seen at the end of the album. The album is ended with an instrumental ballad titled “Soulfly VI” that comes out of nowhere, and completely changes the mood of the album, I was expecting Max to burst into song whilst listening to this. There is nothing wrong with this piece, it is actually fairly well written, however it is completely out of place. If the band had put more effort into smoothing over the tempo changes and the transition between heavy and clean, “Conquer” would be a hell of a lot better.
A further problem with this album is the lyrics, whilst Max’s vocals are tolerable ( using his trademark shout , with some nice deeper grunts) the lyrics are weak. They are either uninteresting or childish. This effects the songs for the worse, for example the track “Doom” as I mentioned before is ruined by the “SCREAM MOTHERFUCKER” section. I try not to judge music on the lyrical content, but as Max’s vocals are comprehensible on this release, the lyrics bring the album down.
There is little to say about the production, the guitars and drums sound solid and clear. The bass is completely inaudible (unless it is playing on its own, which does happen occasionally). The bass being silent is no surprise for me, considering the modern tendency within metal to drown out the bassist’s tracks entirely.
I feel bad for dismissing this release so harshly, there ARE good aspects , but the flaws completely ruin the positive aspects for me.
Standouts (Trying to be generous here)
- "Fall Of The Sycophants"