REVIEW: Soulfly – ‘Ritual’

Review by Jeff Maki
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What a time it must be to be Max Cavalera. He reunited with his brother Iggor years ago in Cavalera Conspiracy and has released some killer studio albums, including the most recent, the old-school-Sepultura-influenced “Psychosis” (review). The Brazilian tribesman are touring under the moniker of “Beneath Arise,” performing—you guessed it. And Soulfly, now an astonishing two decades and 11 studio albums into its career, recently performed the Nailbomb cult-classic “Point Blank” on tour. As if the legacy of Sepultura hadn’t already had the Cavalera name carved into stone in the halls of the metal gods, the past few years have been a celebration of Max and Iggor, their pioneering style and their underlying influence on bands old and new. So the newest Soulfly record, “Ritual,” doesn’t even have to be great; it just have to live up to the legacy. And, of course, it does.

Talking with Max earlier this year (read), I could hear the enthusiasm in his voice when he gave me some early details about “Ritual.” The man loves his metal, and unlike many other metal musicians, he listens to it and is all about newer bands, telling me about Genocide Pact and Nails, while also name dropping classic bands, describing a part on “Ritual” that reminded him of At the Gates and mentioning death metal veterans Immolation as another one of his favoritess. And is it just me, or is the cover art for “Ritual” Hate Eternal-esque?

Taking this into account, Max is highly influenced by the current scene. Fans may think “Ritual” might be along the lines of the Soulfly debut—not so. Any traces of nu-metal are gone, and there’s no guest appearance from Fred Durst. But we get Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe on the “Hellraiser”-inspired,”Dead Behind the Eyes” (originally titled “Cenobites”), a track that seems like it was written specifically as a Lamb of God bonus track.

We also get Immolation vocalist Ross Dolan lending his growls on the deadly “Under Rapture.” The closest we come to older Soulfly is the title track, which is basically “Back to the Primitive” part two,  minus the nu-metal style.

“Ritual” was produced by Grammy Award-winner Josh Wilbur (Lamb of God, Trivium, All That Remains), and Soulfy’s lineup remains intact, with bassist Mike Leon and lead guitarist Marc Rizzo slowly but surely becoming one of the more respected and admired metal guitarists. Did I mention this also is the third album that Max’s son Zyon is behind the drums? Even after all this, the Cavalera name will have a strong presence in metal for years to come. As Max says, “I am passing the torch. Our tribe is stronger than ever!”

October 19, 2018
Nuclear Blast Records

Rating: 8.5/10

 

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