ALBUM REVIEW: Soulfly – Archangel

Soulfly – Archangel

Soulfly-Archangel-Artwork

Soulfly has returned to its thrash metal roots on it’s latest and highly-acclaimed release Archangel.

Originally published in Reverb Magazine.

Heavy. Loud. Chaotic.

One often needs more adjectives to define an album but on this occasion, simple is sufficient. With an invigorated style and more anger and aggression than many would have expected, Soulfly’s tenth studio release Archangel is a great addition to an already-impressive musical catalogue.

Historically, Soulfly have maintained a reputable existence in the heavy metal subculture. Frontman Max Cavalera has dabbled in various other metal projects – Cavalera Conspiracy, Killer be Killed and Sepultura to name a few – and his Soulfly bandmates have also garnered a reputation in various genres. The benefit of such musical variety is that it can often seep into new albums, bringing with it new sounds and experiences. Archangel is a real example of this.

Lyrically the album stays true to the ‘Cavalera style’ – motifs of violence, social injustice and issues of the current day. Musically, there is no smooth entrance. Archangel beings with rigor and brutality. Immediately listeners are drawn into its aggressive style. Through fast-paced drumming, harsh vocals and a few characteristic Soulfly riffs, the album is like a ‘wall-of-sound’ – it’s difficult not to feel engaged from start to finish.

Yet, despite the intensity delivered on almost all of the tracks, there are a few let-downs along the way. The opening track, We Sold Our Souls to Metal, is cliché in name and note. Repetitive and sometimes a little chaotic (not in a good way), the song can often feel like a bit of a jumbled mess. Not to mention the title sounds like something from a Manowar album.

And, it wouldn’t quite be a Soulfly album without various guest appearances – some good, some bad. The bad is demonstrated on Live Life Hard – a song that lends the vocals of Matt Young from King Parrot. The problem here is that falsetto vocals are not to everyone’s liking and, on this occasion, it doesn’t fit the music. What also feels strange is Cavalera’s attempt at a similar vocal style. While his intentions must have been good, the deviation from the normal ‘Cavalera growl’ sounds more like a joke than a creative twist.

But despite some of these minor deterring aspects, it is riveting to experience a Soulfly album that brings back the speed/thrash metal genre it was born into.  Tracks such as Deceiver and Titans feel firmly rooted in the classic style made prominent in the 80s and the cohesion of the band is highly evident across the entire album. It is a classic album for fans and rookies alike. And most certainly an album worthy of recognition.

© Lilen Pautasso

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