Sound — 7
Soulfly was formed in 1997 by Max Cavalera after he left the band he co-founded with his brother, Sepultura. Really, since the beginning the band has been more of a Max Cavalera solo project, as he retained almost complete creative control of the band throughout. The members of the band have also changed frequently, and most recently as drummer David Kinkade "retired" from drums and was replaced by Max's son, Zyon. "Savages" is the ninth studio album released by Soulfly with 10 tracks that clocks in at just under an hour. Another interesting point of fact, "Savages" has much less "tribal" sounds incorporated in the album than previous releases. The album opens with the track "Bloodshed," which does utilize a few interesting tribal sounds – notably a tribal drum pattern and what might be a didgeridoo. The riffing comes in as a strident mid-tempo and the vocals dripping with aggression. "Cannibal Holocaust" has a much faster tempo song and has a very "speech-like" guitar melody running throughout. "Fallen" has a slow, clean intro that turns brutal really quick as Max growls "Ungh" and the distortion comes in. "Ayatollah of Rock N' Rolla" is pretty heavy on groove, and some interesting clean spoken vocals, but I just can't get past the name of the track. "Master of Savagery" has a cool vibe to it - it is fast with a lot of groove and some of the better drums on the album. "Spiral" has some interesting processing going on with some of the instruments in the mix, and makes good use of some vocal reverb. "This Is Violence" has a really positive vibe, musically, though I think it is supposed to come across differently than the vibe I'm getting. I would have a hard time judging the song, because I dig it, but I think I dig it in a way that is completely opposite from what Max was trying to do with it. The next track, "K.C.S.", has some guest vocals from Mitch Harris from Napalm Death and his lyrics are probably the best part of the track for me - his voice is just really fun to listen to. Otherwise, the riffing has a cool epic feel to it. The track "El Comegente" makes use of some really liquid sounding tremolo or some type of tremolo-like echo effect and Spanish lyrics sang by bassist, Tony Campos. The album closes out with the track "Soulfliktion," which was a good choice as it is a fairly strong track and lets the album close out on a strong note.
Lyrics — 7
Max is joined by several guest vocalists on this album (several of the guest vocalists also acted as creative collaborators on the songs they sang on). The list includes Jamie Hanks (I Declare War), Igor Cavalera Jr (Lody Kong), Mitch Harris (Napalm Death) and Neil Fallon (Clutch). That isn't counting Tony Campos, who sang the vocals on the track "El Comegente." Overall, there is nothing really to complain about on the vocals, though there was nothing that really blew me away, either. The vocal high point from the album would probably be Mitch Harris' parts on "K.C.S." and I'm not even a Napalm Death fan. The lyrics follow the same theme of Max trying to pass on a more important message, spreading his spiritual and political ideas through his music. Here are some lyrics from "Bloodshed" to prove my point: "Fire, the burning path/ Destroy the weak minds/ The weak minds rising nature's demise/ Enslave system creation/ Everywhere is bloodshed/ Wasteland bloodshed/ Everywhere is bloodshed/ Wasteland bloodshed/ Bloodshed wasteland/ Bloodshed wasteland/ Bloodshed/ Life, ravage skullduggery/ Rage, dethrone the enemy/ Die treacherous leprosy/ Scorn the self-inflict." I do like what Max does by mixing a little bit of the abstract with a little bit of word salad.
Overall Impression — 7
I just need to get this out - the cymbals on this album sound like crap to me. I don't know what it is about them exactly, but while it was a very minor thing on my first listen it was driving me up the wall by my third listen. I really thought the album was solid, otherwise. I thought the rest of the drums sounded fine. And maybe it is just me about the cymbals, let me know in the comments. My favorite tracks from the album would probably be "Fallen," "Master of Savagery," "This Is Violence" and "Soulfliktion." While this isn't the best Soulfly release ever, it is a decent album. If it wasn't for those friggin' cymbals I would have given it an 8 overall.