Released: 2004, Roadrunner Records/Bonnier Amigo Music Group
Reviewer: Anders Sandvall
Max Cavalera is back with his 4th album with Soulfly. Most of you out there already know that Cavalera once fronted the Brazilian band Sepultura and a project under the name Nailbomb. Therefore, I don’t think that I have to write any background info on this man. Soulfly’s debut came 1998 and was called SOULFLY. Then PRIMITIVE in 2000 and the third album in 2002 simply called “3”.
Soulfly has done a lot of touring through the years and the only member who has lasted from the start is Max himself. Personally, I haven’t been to impressed with Soulfly. The first album is O.K., the second one is not funny at all and the third one is sort of O.K. as well. My interest in Soulfly cooled after their first album and the following tour. Max deserves credit for his courage to try new and unorthodox things in his music, even though albums have ups and downs. Max has written all 12 tracks on PROPHECY except for 3 songs that he has co-written. Max also produced the album and it was mixed by Terry Date (Deftones, Pantera, White Zombie, etc.). Max has done a great job with the production and the sound. It was recorded in Salt Mine in Phoenix, U.S.A. Reportedly Max doesn’t want Soulfly to consist of the same members on every album. He wants the music to be dynamic on every album and he believes he can achieve that with different musicians on each record. On this one he has gathered Mark from Ill Nino, Joe who played on Soulfly’s second album, Dave Ellefson from Megadeth, and Bobby from Primer 55.
On PROPHECY Max has mostly abandoned the boring mallcore he tried on the second album. Even though he stills challenges listeners, this sounds a lot like what he did in Sepultura. It’s heavy, brutal and hard metal halfway through the songs. Then comes the surprises in shape of flamenco guitars, tribal music, reggae music with horns, and there are as well some influences from what Max did in Nailbomb (by that I mean some influences from punk). Some call Max the “Bob Marley of metal” - something that really shows here. He has refined the hard, heavy, brutal sound he had on the previous album and put it here. “PROPHECY” starts off this album and is in the same style as Sepultura. It’s an excellent song to open with and Max sounds just as angry as he used to. He may not be the best singer in the world but his voice fits this kind of music. “LIVING SACRIFICE”, “EXECUTION STYLE” and “DEFEAT U” all sound alike except for the last song mentioned. On that track, Max has some help by Danny Marianino on additional vocals. Otherwise these songs are heavy grinding tempo changing songs. “Mars” starts as a heavy metal track with double bass pedals partly through the song together with Max’s angry lead vocals. The tempo is pretty high until the middle where the tempo slows and almost turns into a ballad. The guitar solo sounds like it’s done by a flamenco guitar and the other guys lay pretty low in the mix. Then it turns into some kind of reggae beat to the flamenco guitar and after that a very long solo. “I BELIEVE” starts out as the previous one with Max on the first verse with his angry vocals, then the tempo slows down and in comes some rap before the tempo rises and Max returns. After that, the tempo slows down once again and at the end the song turns into a ballad-like thing. This feels like a mallcore track in the chorus and I think it’s Max who raps. “MOSES” is a reggae/metal track with reggae vocals before Max comes in and turns the song into a metal track. In the middle there’s a longer metal-sounding part with an angry Max before the reggae stuff comes back again. There are some very long instrumental parts on this 8-minute track. “BORN AGAIN ANARCHIST” sounds like the first one - aggressive/brutal metal in true Sepultura spirit. The difference is that this song mixed with more tribal music than Sepultura. In “PORRADA” the music borders more to metal/punk than before and in the middle the metal music takes over before it returns to what it sounded like in the beginning. Max must be singing in Portuguese, because I don’t have a clue what he’s singing about. “IN THE MEANTIME” is more of a grinding repetitive slow metal track. At the end of the song everybody stops playing and tribal instrumental music starts again. “SOULFLY IV” has a slow tribal intro influenced by world music. It’s an incredibly slow song and after 4 minutes in comes a percussion and guitar solo, this track is totally instrumental all the way. “WINGS” is another world music track with just Asha on lead vocals. This doesn’t sound like Soulfly at all. After 3 minutes there is horn section without any vocals. After that and some talking the song is over and the album closes.
With PROPHECY, Max has created something that almost feels vital and interesting. There’s not much to complain about on the first half of the album since it sounds similar to what he did before he started Soulfly. The other part of the album is harder to listen to. It takes a while to get used to all the world music and reggae influences he has put into his music. The only two tracks that don’t fit in at all are the two last tracks. They are very weird and I don’t like them at all. They don’t fit in on any Soulfly album because the songs contain to much reggae and flamenco influences and too many instrumental parts…plus Max doesn’t even sing the. Max has taken his experimental journey way too far in these songs.
I hope that Max continues on this musical path, but I sure hope that he takes it easy on the experimenting with world music and other odd influences. My favorite songs are “PORRADA”, “LIVING SACRIFICE”, “EXECUTION STYLE”, “DEFEAT U”, “MOSES” and “PROPHECY”. Although there are minor things I’ve criticized, this is a strong album and Max has found what he should sound like. Everyone who has counted out Soulfly should take a closer look at this since Max impresses a lot on this 4th Soulfly album.