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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.