Soulfly - Savages review


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Band: Soulfly
Album: Savages
Release date: October 2013

01. Bloodshed [feat. Igor Cavalera]
02. Cannibal Holocaust
03. Fallen [feat. Jamie Hanks]
04. Ayatollah Of Rock 'N' Rolla [feat. Neil Fallon]
05. Master Of Savagery
06. Spiral
07. This Is Violence
08. K.C.S. [feat. Mitch Harris]
09. El Comegente [feat. Tony Campos]
10. Soulfliktion
11. Fuck Reality [limited edition bonus]
12. Soulfly IX [limited edition bonus]

Prepare to be ravaged by the savage.

Whether it was by stroke of luck or a brief moment of inspiration, Savages somehow manages to elevate itself above the glut of middling material Max had been producing while inducing a sense of malaise in his audience. While sounding very much like a product of the assembly line approach Max has taken to music in recent years, for one brief moment Savages sounds vital and like a breath of fresh air.

Rolling off the line in 2013, Savages is the latest iteration of the Soulfly sound; it isn't earth-shattering by any means, but it serves as a reminder that the band are metallers at heart, and not some machine churning out product from a set of blueprints. There is a sense of human engagement that has been missing for awhile. Whereas much of Soulfly's output around this time lacked a killer hook or riff to give it purpose, on Savages the band rediscover their magic touch, giving much of the album that special something that moves a track from middle of the road and firmly into the fast lane.

Whereas in their recent output, Soulfly had tried to refresh themselves by dabbling in other genres (Omen being more hardcore-focused while Enslaved was pseudo-death metal[/i]) Savages benefits from this break and goes back to the sound established on Conquer, as the band aren't just pulling riffs from the same pile and have to purposefully craft them.

Tracks like "Master of Savagery" and "K.C.S." take the death metal sound of Enslaved and mix it into the Soulfly sound rather than vice versa, using it to enhance the tracks rather than pushing them into a mould damned be the result. "Spiral" utilizes a tight rhythm and effect pedal to great effect, building a sense of foreboding doom while getting you to bang your head with equal vigour. "Cannibal Holocaust" and "This Is Violence" may not be the most original tracks (the former a track heavily indebted to Slayer), but they are good listens and ones that will stick in your head rather than the background.

"El Comegente" sounds like the most inspired thing Max has done since Soulfly or Nailbomb, mixing the tribal sounds that Soulfly have made a part of their sound on each subsequent record with Max's death metal roots, on full show here with him bringing his growls out for a rare showing as opposed to a half-hearted rumble.

It is a shame the band felt the need to include tracks like "Fallen", "Bloodshed" and "Ayatollah of Rock 'N' Rolla"; while I enjoy each of the guest appearances, their inclusion seems to be an attempt to compensate for tracks that are missing that magic spark. Given that the songs are also at least six minutes in length, they stretch out what little ideas they have until the songs become transparent and fraying at the seams. They sound like B-sides were thrown onto the album with guest appearances to try and distract from their subpar nature.

Musically, the band are much their usual selves; focusing on songcraft rather than instrumental bravado, they form a tight unit behind the tracks to push them forwards rather than using the songs as springboards to highlight their individual talents. This cohesion allows the songs to take centre stage and the album benefits as a whole.

Savages is the first Max-fronted project in a few years I could point to and recommend as a whole rather than a select few tracks. Is it the best thing to come out of Soulfly? No, but it's a big improvement on where they had been in recent years.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 7
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 7
Production: 7


Written on 08.10.2020 by Just because I don't care doesn't mean I'm not listening.

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