It’s been ten years since there’s the last mighty Soulfly release and naysayers of the band have not been quiet about this. Now approaching their third decade, the Brazilians fronted by the always vocal Max Cavalera are back to championship winning ways. To his credit, Mr Cavalera has never deviated from the path created by himself, releasing music that his distinctive stamp is all the fuck over; even the weaker albums that pop up through the ‘fly’s discography contain a clutch of tracks worthy of praise. Archangel is a bit different. Throughout it’s career shortest run time, this tenth release is overflowing with anthems that puff up chests and strong themes that match the hostile nature of the musical bludgeoning.
From his first release with Sepultura to now, Cavalera’s lyrical themes have remained an ever present within his work. Always a spokesperson for the resistance, he extrapolates complicated worldwide topics and converts them into easily digestible bites of groove and thrash. “Sodomite” really is a return to overpowering dirge of the Sabbath inspired variety. For the uneducated or uninterested, the powerful three syllable chorus is huge; the backing vocals during this are a perfect fit, stick a cameo from Todd Jones of Nails along side it and it’s easy to figure out why this was picked as one of the lead singles. The themes of Archangel are fairly uniform in nature, aside from the most obvious television reference this side of HBO, but are delivered with the gusto of Cavalera and his guests, giving each track reason for further digging into the material itself.
Pulling the reference back and being specific, the thrash and groove of Soulfly really popped on Dark Ages. There was a solid mix of breakneck and beatdown tempos, splendid lead work and riffs and still spattered with enough of subtle Brazilian influence. Archangel is another example of getting that blend right. While not as DIY sounding on the ears as Dark Ages, the breakneck changes from groove to bedlam breed the vitality that makes tracks like “Ishtar Rising” and “Titans” well worth their standing alongside the classics. Some of this all falls a bit flat and, one could say, is a few berimbaus short of a string band. Throwaway traditional instrument pun aside, these tracks are forgettable but to a point where they make the stand out tracks all the more satisfying in their brevity and brutality. “We Sold Our Souls To Metal” might get some hearts pumping but it might also cause sourface in any fan not familiar with Cavalera’s bluntness.
Number dez in this seasoned discography is definitely one of the classiest Soulfly albums to date. It is at the same time the tenth album in a career that has seen many players come and leave the ranks, without ever altering the sound too noticeably. The family touch on this record (as well as the always ferocious work of Marc Rizzo) and with some of the craftiest song writing this side of “Refuse/Resist” sees Archangel lofted into the clouds above Savages and Enslaved, even 3 and Prophecy too. Soulfly could release another decade of records and none of them may be as enjoyable as this. The wheat splits from the chaff with ease here, the throwaway moments eclipsed by the mighty presence of Max Cavalera counting off um, dois, trés, quatro and welcoming everyone into his house. This is a great Soulfly record for Soulfly fans.
Soulfly’s Archangel gets..