|Soulfly's seventh album, Omen, stands steeped in tradition.
Available May 2010, frontman Max Cavalera fuels Omen with the same blood, fire and spirit that made him a genre icon with Sepultura, Soulfly and Cavalera Conspiracy. Following the warpath left by 2008's critically acclaimed Conquer, Omen is a sign of Soulfly becoming an even fiercer, fierier and more furious metallic monster, seven albums into their storied career. Various Soulfly traditions remain upheld over the course of the album's 11 tracks. Bobby Burns' bass rumbles and roars on teeth-gnashing opener "Bloodbath and Beyond," as Joe Nunez commences pure percussive pummeling. Marc Rizzo tears through throat-slitting leads, while still making room to groove on the likes of "Lethal Injection." Max's unmistakable vocals and riffs work in tandem for the ultimate aural assault.
Max and Co. simply don't stop. Soulfly's Gold-certified, self-titled debut, has become a genre classic since its 1998 release. Six records and countless sold out shows across the world have paved the path for Omen. For Max, his latest Soulfly offering is the culmination of over a decade of growth. He explains, "We entered a heavier and more aggressive phase with Dark Ages and Conquer. Omen is really violent in terms of the lyrics and the music. I think this record brings fans closer to Soulfly than ever before. It's got every element that people loved from the last two albums. It's all there, but it goes beyond that. People that liked Conquer are going to love Omen because there are a couple more surprises."
Some of those surprises come in the form of very special guest appearances. In the past, Max has collaborated with everyone from Slipknot's Corey Taylor and Slayer's Tom Araya to Deftones' Chino Moreno and Sean Lennon. He's opted for two more genre luminaries this time around. On "Rise of the Fallen," Max trades schizophrenic vocal tirades with Dillinger Escape Plan's Greg Puciato.
"I met Greg during a Deftones show in LA," says Max. "I told him that he should drop by the studio if he wanted to sing something. He loved the song from the beginning, but he told me he wanted to make it epic. Greg did the chaotic, high-pitched, Dillinger Escape Plan vocals, but he also did some melodic vocals at the end that gave the track another dimension. The song blows me away, and it continues the tradition of Soulfly collaborations."
Meanwhile, for "Lethal Injection," Max enlisted the help of an old friend, Prong's Tommy Victor. Max said, "Tommy did a killer job on the vocals. I've loved Prong since the early days. Prong was part of a Pantera tour Sepultura did. It's really cool that he's on this record now."
Most bands slow down with age—not Soulfly. Seven records in and they still create chaos better than anyone in this century. "Violence runs on all the tracks," offers Max. "Murder is this record's state of mind—from 'Bloodbath and Beyond' to 'Jeffrey Dahmer.' It's a really violent album. I always wanted to write a song about a serial killer. This was my chance. 'Jeffrey Dahmer' has such a catchy chorus mentioning his name, and I can hear people singing that. Omen mostly came out of every day experience though. Omen is a mysterious name, and it can relate to a lot of different things. From the whole time we were in the studio, I knew the album was going to be called Omen."
Max recorded with producer Logan Mader [Cavalera Conspiracy, Gojira, Devildriver] at Edge of the Earth Studios in Hollywood. He entered Edge of the Earth with ten riffs and emerged with an explosive metal masterpiece. They didn't waste any time commencing destruction either, and the first track proves that. "'Bloodbath and Beyond' is almost like a hardcore song. It could've been an Agnostic Front song. From the first note, you know it's on. The beating starts at the beginning. There's no intro. The vocals, guitars and everything hit you at once," Max explains.
A really special collaboration also happened with Max's sons. As B-Sides, Soulfly re-recorded Sepultura classic "Refuse/Resist" with Zyon Cavalera and Excel's "Your Life, My Life" with Igor Cavalera (his son, not his brother) playing drums. "It was cool to record the B-Sides with my kids. Zyon's heartbeat actually opens the original Sepultura record, Chaos A.D. Now he got to record the song with me! Igor plays on an Excel cover that he picked. We always have my family involved on the albums, and this just takes it to the next level," he said.
Continuing another legacy, Max takes listeners into different territory again on "Soulfly 7." He continues, "This 'Soulfly' song came out really easily. I love what Marc did. It's almost like Jimi Hendrix-meets-U2-meets-The-Police. It stands out from the rest of the record because it's so clean. Everything else is really heavy and distorted. This has really clean guitars so it jumps out at you." It's another heavy psychedelic journey that's both spiritual and strangely soothing.
Marc's six-string experimentation also led to a unique solo on "Rise of the Fallen" and a pensive acoustic outro on "Mega-Doom." Max lauds him saying, "Marc is such an exciting guitar player. He blew me away again. Marc came up with crazy, electronic sounds. He makes the guitar sound like a computer or a cell phone. It's a bit influenced by Rage Against the Machine. The album is split between those noises and some incredible melodic solos. Marc really outdid himself on Omen."
All around, Omen functions as portent for Soulfly's future by drawing upon their past. "This is Soulfly's seventh album. With Sepultura, I only did six albums. Soulfly survived the times. It survived the crisis. After it took off with the first record, I never stopped or looked back. I just kept going. We're going to the future with Omen. Metal is still alive and kicking. Because you get older, it doesn't mean you need to get boring. The older I get, the more psycho I get. The albums get heavier and more aggressive. That's the message of Omen. Music is all I know how to do. It's all I like to do. This album just reaffirms that I can keep rocking."
Omen signals a new chapter for Soulfly and heavy metal.