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Really? I see a lot hate towards this album all over the internet. Seeing comments on Youtube like "fuck this band, max is a sellout" made me think I was reading reviews for the newest turd BVB may shit out. But no, apparently all this hate is aimed towards the first Soulfly album. Honestly, people really need to stop bitching about this album. It is not nearly as bad as some people are making it out to be. Do I think it's the most br000tal record I've ever heard? Absolutely not. But do I think it's absolute excrement? Not even close. In fact I actually really like this album, enough to have played it multiple times actually. So for today, I'm basically going to back up why I think this album is really good in my opinion, and hopefully maybe open some people's eyes.
First of all, yes, I'm fully aware that we are dealing with a nu metal album here. You can gather that from the first opening second of Eye For An Eye that this is going to be a nu metal album. However, Max and his band actually show that Nu Metal can be good, if done right. Now granted, later releases from this band absolutely destroy this album, but here, we see a band that has a clear idea of what they want sound wise, which is very rare for a debut album honestly. Yes, the instrumentation on here isn't the most technically advanced playing, but you can defiantly see that there was a lot of effort put into these songs. Take a song like "First Commandment" for instance. A song featuring Chino Moreno should have been an automatic dud, and I have no gripes towards Chino at all. It's just that whenever a song features someone, the song is usually built around them, and then it turns into an ego massage more than anything. However, that is not the case here. Both Max and Chino get an equal amount of time to shine on this track, and it's honestly a great example for me as to how a collab should be done. Going back to the instrumentation for a minute, a lot of the riffs on this album while simple, are actually really effective and for me get stuck in your head for days. Max was on top of his game for this album riff wise, because I immediately recognize songs such as Eye For An Eye, No Hope=No Fear, and Tribe because of catchy and memorable Max made these riffs. You can tell that he carefully examined each song before putting it on the record, because the riffs are just so goddamn good on this album to be quite honest with you. I actually like the riffs on here more than I do the ones on Roots. Maybe it has to do with the fact that Max no longer felt restricted to do just one style of music anymore?
Going into my next point on here, regardless of how you feel towards the actual music on this album. You just have to respect the variety of this album. Seriously, it's really amazing the variety that's to be found on this album. You have plenty of groovy heavy songs, but then you also have a fair share of Brazilian style music found on this album. This is another reason I love this album so much, Max took the experimentation done on Roots, and just did it tenfold without having too many songs that are either heavy or mellow. There just as many metal songs, as their are Brazilian culture meets funk kinda vibe. The experimental songs are probably my favorite out of all the tracks found here. The drumming on these tracks are very tight, and they defiantly carry a very tight, yet also loose style of rhythm. Come to think of it, Roy Mayorga just totally kills it on this album. I'm being serious when I say the drums can sound funky from time to time. Eye For An Eye and Umbabarauma are simple in the sense of what's being played, but they're also hard at the same time because the drums often carry the same tight funk meets metal drumming style throughout the album, but it just sounds so well done that it's hard not to bob your head to them. So well done Roy, ya done good. There are so many different types of cool sounds being made on the Brazilian style songs that it's hard for me to say much more than simply just check it out. They're extremely creative songs.
Finally, we need to talk about Max's lyrics on this album. In my opinion, and I know people are gonna crucify me for saying this, but I feel this album is Max at his peak lyrically. Think about it, after being essentially forced out of Sepultura at the end of the roots tour, Max could've very easily written a very bitter, angry, and cocky album full of "don't fuck with me" attitude (sadly that attitude would be very prominent on Primitive, but that's another review for another time), but he didn't. Instead, he chose to try and look at things in more of a positive way and less on the hateful side. Yes, songs like First Commandment and Bleed somewhat derail my argument, but honestly they more or less feel like honest expressions of how Max is feeling, rather than using fucked up situations as a means to write a "don't fuck with me" song. I guess that also has a big part in why I like this album so much. The realness of it. Max doesn't hide how he's feeling or what he's thinking, but he just channels it in such a way that even the more negative songs on here sound more relatable than if they'd turn into a "woe is me" way of writing. No whining on a nu metal album? Who would've thought?!?!?!?!?!?!?! I like music that makes you feel or think, and to me, Soulfly does all that and then some.
In conclusion, Soulfly is an album that defiantly deserves more respect and recognition than it gets. I get that it's a nu metal album and a lot of metalheads like me wouldn't go near anything that genre has to offer (except Deftones, they're awesome), but this honestly is not a terrible album. I think the reason that people give this so much hate is because people didn't expect more nu metal material from Max after Roots. I know that a lot of people were probably hoping for an Arise part 2, rather than a Roots part 2, but this isn't poorly executed at all in my opinion. Soulfly is a great album with lots of experimentation, and lots of kickass riffs that defiantly make you wanna JUMPDAFUCKUP! Sorry, I had to XD. Anyway, check this album out if you haven't already, it's a great place for new fans of this band to start, as it gives you an idea of what Soulfly is about. And if you haven't listened to this album in a long time because you were bitterly disappointed by the sound of it, give it another chance. It may sit with you better now that the band has moved on from this style of music and more into the original Sepultura sound, even if the newer style is a little bland from time to time, but we'll get to that too at some point.
It's been a long time since the turbulent year of 1996 and the departure of Max Cavalera from Sepultura. The band continued their existence, brought a new singer and made departure from the groove/tribal/ proto-nu metal approach which has been presented with worldwide album Roots. At the same time, Max formed Soulfly. His new band was supposed to be a continuation of his vision from the Roots album. Two years after parting with Sepultura, Soulfly released their debut self-titled album.
The music from this album can be simply described as nu metal with tribal elements. Max wants you to jump and shout simple and unimaginative choruses, with the addition of tribal drumming. Many expected a return of thrash metal sound, orgasmic solos, brutal riffs and pumped vocals with Soulfly, buuuut no. Max is perhaps pumped, but his vocals sound pathetic and overstrained. Combine that with bad lyrics which mostly consists of "fuck" , "shit" , "motherfucker" etc., and unimpressive riffs that practically recycle themselves. Tribal element even raises the score of the album, but it's more my personal opinion. If you like the sound of berimbau, sitar and conga, this could be just for you.
Of course, it's a sin to release a Soulfly album without guests. Max looooves guests, especially those related to his new love - nu metal. The album features guest appearances by no less than Fred Durst and DJ Lethal (both of Limp Bizkit) and Chino Moreno of Deftones. Anyway, this album is enough bad itself, and why not make it worse by adding all those fresh faces. The best example is the song "Bleed" which also has a music video. To sum up, the chorus consists of "wannabe tough" barking into the microphone by Max and Fred Durst. BLEED! BLEED! If there is any definition of facepalm, then it's this song. Oh, and don't expect much from a song in which the repeated line is " I'll make you bleed and you're bleeding now". Imaginative. (sarcasm /off)
Frankly, after listening to this album I had a feeling that Max practically spat himself and did great harm to his brilliant career (even the Roots album is better than this). In the end, who remembers the songs from this album today? Absolutely no one except a few die hard Soulfly fans who think that this is the most brOOTal thing evah. If you want to hear some good stuff from Soulfly, keep looking because you will not find anything good here.
Best songs: Maybe Bumbklaatt... Give it a chance.
After Max Cavalera left Brazilian legends Sepultura in 1996, he didn't have a pause in making music. He formed Soulfly almost immediately after his departure from the band he first formed, but didn't hurry in releasing his new band's music.
Sepultura did change a lot during over ten years of existence, that Max was in the band. From primitive black/thrash metal act to world traveling giants of thrash metal, they assumed far more simplified power chord driven, ehh... drivel, to put it nicely! Sepultura's 1998 album 'Against' was badly lacking, especially in songwriting. So is Soulfly's debut. In my wildest dreams, I was waiting for back-to-thrash style stuff from Max, but no. With this debut, Max continued with simple power chord driven stuff. The album lacks of memorable songs. And when the music is simple as this, some songs are way too long as is the whole album! Soulfly's "jump metal" is accompanied by HC stuff, but also by traditional Brazilian music and bits of various different music styles, for example, sadly, rap!!! These accompanying styles liven up this power chord stuff quite a bit, minus the rap shite, but still the album gets tired during its long duration. Basically, this is Max's 'Roots part 2' in my ears, 'Bumbklaatt' being the closest reference point, even its' drumming is so fucking Igor Cavalera-esque.
This is performed with energy, no doubt about that, but production isn't very raw or dirty as it should be. Max had lost some close people and this was his therapy to overcome his losses. There's a couple of feel-good songs, though (e.g. soccer song 'Umbabarauma'). Lyrics vary from Max's personal feelings to Brazilian every day life. It's always good to hear Max's rough voice, but then again, his "solos" are more like random guitar noise (which on 'No Hope = No Fear' happens to sound like angry Donald Duck, believe me!). And all "fucks" and "motherfuckers" are a bit old, eh?
Maybe Max and Sepultura guys were much more a force than they want to reckon nowadays. We will probably hear no another album from classic Sepultura line-up. Anyways, I picked up the latest Soulfly album 'Dark Ages', because someone mentioned "thrash bits" on it, and I must say it's much, much better and more deliberate one from Max!
About the remix/live bonus disc: I don't know about remix styles and do not care to know about them. However, the remixes are more varying than the album itself, but do not provide any listening pleasure for my ears. Concert recordings are okay with heavy sound and live atmosphere. Remixes are for gay lemonade alcohol drinkers, live tracks for beer swelling bastards. Roadrunner Records have a fucking annoying habit to release their year-old releases for a second time with a bonus disc. Buggers!
(originally written for ArchaicMetallurgy.com in 2006)
Of all the abominable nu-metal acts that sprung up toward the end of the 90's, none hold as dear (read: bitter) a place in my metal heart as Soulfly. Why? It's because Max Cavalera did what I had hoped to be impossible - he ruined his own career even more profoundly than Chris Barnes did with Six Feet Under. Truly, it leaves me appalled when I watch footage of Sepultura from the early 90's and see the raw energy and passion the Cavalera Bros & Co had, only to know that the band I'm watching is nearly twenty years past their glory days and its former frontman went on to start a music project which is so insultingly bad that most of the metal fan base finds it approximately as appealing as a Sunday school teacher finds video footage of a partial-birth abortion. But alas, this is ancient history in the metal world, and there is no option but to move on and accept it.
Hoping that I would finally be able to approach Soulfly with an open mind after all this time, I prepared myself for listening to their debut record by placing myself in the proper mindset, ready to be floored by slamming riffs and spiritually moved by the tribal passages, ultimately coming out of the listening experience as a stronger and more enriched human being. This did not happen. Instead, I was greeted by some low, rumbling noise. For a few moments, I waited in eager anticipation to hear the powerful crescendo and transition into the opening riffs, but it never came. The transition into the opening riff of Eye for an Eye consists of one snare drum hit. The riff that follows this less-than-subtle intro is actually rather promising and reasonably catchy, bordering on being acceptable as groove metal. The problem, however, is that the opening track is in no way indicative of what lies ahead.
Actually, that's not entirely true. The bad parts of Eye for an Eye could be considered accurate foreshadowing of what is to come, including insipid lyrics with passages that get repeated over and over, screeching "solos" and samples, pointless interludes featuring tribal drumming, and a TOTALLY SIKK breakdown that's so br00tal that all the mall kiddies pinch nerves in their necks while headbanging to it. Sarcasm and satire aside, if the rest of the album was of the same quality as the opening track, I would not find it nearly as detestable as I do. Unfortunately, as soon as Eye for an Eye ends, the listener is promptly sent to nu-metal hell, from which the only escape is reaching the end of the CD.
No Hope = No Fear is an effective summary of the remaining contents of the record, subtly warning us that there is no hope whatsoever from this point onward. The most egregious offender, though, is Bleed. Promoted heavily at the time of the album's release, to the point that a music video was made for it, Bleed was deemed the obligatory "hit single" off this record. However, it's just another obligatory hit to the crotch, and a microcosm of the nu-metal movement. "Creepy" screeching noises, rapped lyrics about pain and insanity that are so overdone they actually sound more angsty than angry, profanity thrown around to show all the eleven year-olds that Soulfly are gangstaz, a one-word chorus that is shouted several times over while the vocal track alternates between the left and right speakers, a breakdown laden with BRING IT taunts... Bleed has it all.
And really, it never improves from there. In the spots where the music isn't downright awful, every potentially promising moment is inevitably ruined. Whenever the tribal drums and chanting comes in, Soulfly desecrates it by adding more of that screeching sample shit to it and adding growling to the vocals. Whenever there's a riff that starts to grow on you, it promptly ends and descends into a breakdown, at which point you will most assuredly be informed via rapped lyrics that you enjoy fucking your mother. Whenever Soulfly comes to what they believed to be an awesome chorus, they hammer the point home by repeating it at least half a dozen times before moving on. Not even the closing instrumental track can lend the album any credence, as it consists entirely of sampled noises and bullshit so common in nu-metal.
What can I really say in summary? I wanted to be able to say that this album is completely void of creativity and is where metal went to die, but it is not. The most unfortunate fault of this album is that you can tell throughout that Max and his crew are being completely serious. They really were exercising their creativity, and they really did give it an honest effort. The result, perhaps to all eyes other than their own, is a revolting album with few, if not zero, redeeming qualities. It has bits and pieces derived from the likes of Korn, Limp Bizkit, and Slipknot, all wrapped up in its own unique package courtesy of the tribal influences - and yes, it really is just as awful as that description sounds.
The year is 1996, Max Cavalera has just left Sepultura after the release of the album Roots and his stepson Dana Wells was murdered. He formed Soulfly and about two years later this album is the result.
Let's cut the shit and get to the shit, starting with Bleed. This is by far the worst song on the album. Bleed may not be the worst song I've ever heard (pretty sure that honor belongs to Nicki Minaj or Rebecca Black), but it is the rock-bottom pit on this album with its vapid aggro-metal grooves, annoying electronic squeal and the wiggerapping of Fred Durst. The first half is dominated by bland and boring nu-metal songs. Eye For An Eye, No Hope = No Fear, Bumba, First Commandment and Bumbklaatt are five songs that I don't give a single fuck about. Bleed only gets excluded for being how terrible it is. Tribe is skipped because it is the first song that I can call listenable. So the chorus isn't exactly mind-blowing genius, and it's still nu-metal, but the idea of this song isn't GRR ME ANGRY caveman metal, but rather a near seemless integration of tribal rhythms with groove-laden downtuned guitar. In future albums, Soulfly excels at utilizing tribal and world music, and those ideas are present here in a primordial state.
The later half of the album is quite a bit more diverse. Umbabarauma continues the primordial, tribal groove but in a much different way - this being a cover of a Brasilian samba-rock song by Jorgen Ben Jor. At least I think this is "samba-rock", it's distinctly Brasilian but has a downtuned hard-rock backing riff that has distinctive 70s hard rock characteristics. Perhaps the most primordial song on the album is paradoxically the most intricate and beautiful - the title track, Soulfly, the first instrumental of a series of instrumental jams that is included on every Soulfly album to date. It's calm melody is backed by a gentle conga rhythm, with very very slight traces of distortion - especially during one of the few guitar solos (there are some, such as on Fire) that appear on the album. Quilombo is a tribute to a 17th century Brasilian slave hero named Zumbi, except it is ruined by DJ Lethal of Limp Bizkit barging in and farting in his awful scratches. Fire is a song in the vein of Tribe that has a distinct guitar sound to it, not quite the same as the nu-metal groove of the other songs, but rather reminds me of the overdrive on stoner-rock songs. The Song Remains Insane is a cover that kills two birds with one stone, both of them hardcore birds, one being Caos by Ratos de Porão and the other Sepultura's song Attitude at a frenetic hardcore pace. No and Prejudice continues the nu-metal of the first half of the album, and though Prejudice has lyrics that are against racism and all that honorable shit, the song still doesn't impress. The album ends with Karmageddon, an atmospheric outro with a tribal beat and some drone over top.
Overall, Soulfly's debut album is not the worst album ever made, but it's no masterpiece. It is disjointed but diverse, there are some good songs on here with the highlights being Soulfly, Umbabarauma, Tribe and The Song Remains Insane. The rest are low with Bleed being especially low.