Sound: "Enslaved" has 11 tracks and the Deluxe Edition has 3 additional bonus tracks. The run time of the regular version is over 53 minutes and the 3 bonus tracks adds over 12 minutes of play time. I am listening to the deluxe edition for this review. This is the first album with Tony Campos on bass and David Kinkade on drums. There were several guest vocalists on the album, as well. The album was recorded at Tallcat Studios in Phoenix, Arizona and the guest vocals were recorded at Frick'In Studios in California. The recording of the album was completed in late 2011 and the first single, "World Scum", was released in late January of 2012. The video for "World Scum" soon followed in mid February and another song called "Gladiator" has been floating around YouTube since that date as well. The album release was initially scheduled for 03/08/2012 but was change for unknown reasons to 03/13/2012.
The album was mixed well, and is very heavy throughout the entire album. The drums were mixed right, which doesn't seem to happen very much in heavy metal the cymbals aren't so trebly as to be like an ice pick in the ears and the bass doesn't sound too floppy or too snappy. The rhythm playing on the album is especially tight, but the guitar tone is very generic. Not to say the tone is bad, but the combination of active EMGs and either Peavey or Mesa amps on metal albums starts to make everyone sound similar. This isn't Soulfly's fault alone it wouldn't be an issue unless everyone else was doing it, too. The lead playing, while not mind-blowing, is very solid and interesting. They use a lot of different tactics to create an atmosphere as a bed for each song to lie in, and they do it well. The album kept me engaged from beginning to end. // 8
Lyrics: I've never been a huge fan of distorted/growled vocals past a certain point, but for the most part Soulfly manages to stay on the cusp where they are still recognizable and coherent. I think I liked the guest vocals more than Max Cavalera's vocals. My favorite vocals on the album would absolutely have to be Tony Campos on "Plata O Plomo" even if I don't speak Spanish and have no clue what he was even singing about. As a reminder I will have to look up a translation of the lyrics sometime soon. In the past Soulfly has occasionally ventured out of the scope of normal metal lyrical subjects and I've always enjoyed that, but for "Enslaved" they stick pretty much to the metal lyric playbook.
To give an idea of the lyrical content of the album here is the first verse of "World Scum": "Bloody century is upon thee/ Revolution, war and disease/ Earthquake, the cities falling/ Catastrophe will kill the east/ There will be fire/ There will be famine, drought and plague/ We will succumb in the arena/ Thumbs down to seal our fate". So, yeah, same old morbid metal lyrics in one verse they talk about blood, revolution, war, disease, natural disasters, fire, famine, drought, plague and apocalypse. // 7
Overall Impression: Just to be completely honest, and I can't say exactly what got this in my head, but listening to the album I keep thinking of Dethklok. One of the songs is actually called "Revengeance" which sounds like a song title straight from "Metalocalypse". A few songs from "Omen" reminded me of Dethklok as well. This is still a very solid metal album. I've never really been an enthusiastic fan of Soulfly's type of vocals, but I have to appreciate the end product and their presentation. My favorite song is going to have to be "Treachery" and that is because the solo sounded really unique and interesting to me. My second favorite track would have to be a tie between "Soulfly VIII" (a bonus track from the deluxe edition) and "Revengeance" despite the goofy name. My least favorite song on the album would have to be "Gladiator" because hearing the phrase "Hail Caesar" over and over gets old pretty quick. The rest of the songs are okay a lot of people will probably end up with different favorite songs than me. I've mentioned it before but it really seems like the rhythm playing on Soulfly's albums has become just tighter and tighter. I really appreciated the rhythm playing even if I'm not a fan of the sound of active EMGs. // 7
- Brandon East (c) 2012