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Soulfly: Dark Ages

A staggeringly dark and blinding piece of work, Soulfly's fifth album, Dark Ages, stemmed from a double tragedy in singer Max Cavalera's life in December 2004: the loss of his grandson and the on-stage murder of longtime friend Dimebag Darrell. The result is a bleak and brutal record with glimmers of beauty and exotic instrumentation. Recorded in five countries Serbia, Turkey, Russia, France and the United States Dark Ages celebrates what Cavalera calls "unorthodox metal." The tinny metal-on-metal echoes that serve as the outro to the angry speedballer "Bleak," for example, were recorded in an ancient temple, the frantic "Molotov" opens with Russian lyrics that roughly translated mean "fuck the war," "Riotstarter" builds upon a powerful and addictive tribal chant, and "Innerspirit" blends the clean and melodic vocals of Serbian artist Coyote with Cavalera's roar to surprisingly hypnotic effect.

Which brings up a good point: Despite Cavalera's deep, vulgar, thrash-meets-hardcore voice sounding as lethal as ever, Dark Ages is not without its delicate moments, such as the Peter Gabriel-like middle passage in "I and I" and the peaceful, damn-near-progressive 11-minute instrumental finale "Soulfly V." Elsewhere, the pounding "Corrosion Creeps" marches to an entirely different beat than most of the other songs here, while the "fuck"-fueled "Frontline" and "Staystrong" (written in memory of Cavalera's young grandson) power the band's rage and maybe even serve as catharsis. Oddly enough, this album is "Dedicated to God," as the CD's back insert notes.

I may not speak for the masses, but I find Soulfly especially this album to be more fulfilling than latter-day releases from Cavalera's old band Sepultura, with more depth, layers and color emerging unscathed through the noise.


Track Listing:
1) The Dark Ages
2) Babylon
3) I and I
4) Carved Inside
5) Arise Again
6) Molotov
7) Frontlines
8) Innerspirit
9) Corrosion Creeps
10) Riotstarter
11) Bleak
12) (The) March
13) Fuel the Hate
14) Staystrong
15) Soulfly V

Added: January 11th 2006
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Score:
Related Link: Official Soulfly Web Site
Hits: 2070
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Soulfly: Dark Ages
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-01-11 18:22:52
My Score:

Dark Ages, the fifth release from former Sepultura leader Max Cavalera and his band Soulfly, is a brutally heavy yet at times poignant piece of work that easily has more depth and power than anything his former band has done since he packed his bags and went off on his own. Dealing with topics like war and the death of Cavalera's grandson, Dark Ages is for the most part pretty angry stuff, yet there's some hidden beauty on some of the songs, as well as plenty of varied instrumentation, that might appeal to more than your average thrash, death metal, or hardcore freak. Songs like "Babylon" and "I and I" are no-holds barred manic metal anthems, fueled by Cavalera's aggressive vocal attack and the intricate guitar riffs of Marc Rizzo, but check out the groovy mid-section to the latter, with it's bubbling synths and guitar effects, bringing an almost trance-jazz feel to the piece. This is certainly a more mature Soulfly. There's plenty more molten metal where that came from, like the groove and chunk of "Carved Inside", the churning death metal of "Arise Again", and the rampaging & technical thrash of "Frontlines". Let's face it, there's no shortage of killer riffs on this album courtesy of Cavalera and Rizzo, not too mention the blistering drum work from Joe Nunez.

However, it's the second half of the CD that gets interesting. "Innerspirit" sees some tribal percussion and clean vocals added into an almost doomy mix, while "Riotstarter" has more varied percussion and waves of snarling English and Portuguese vocals. "Bleak" is probably one of the most unique songs on the CD, with catchy lead guitar harmonies, rippling bass lines from Bobby Burns, and plenty of groove, sounding more like some sort of strange hybrid of Nine Inch Nails, funk, and progressive metal. On "Fuel the Hate", the band is angry as all hell, ready to insight a riot with this boiling metalcore anthem that is just as catchy and memorable as it is brutal. The closing instrumental "Soulfly V" is a gorgeous Jimi Hendrix influenced instrumental that soars with cascades of electric & acoustic guitars and trippy effects. It's so different from the rest of the songs, but it's a great way to end this rather chaotic and manic album, giving the listener a much needed rest.

This is one impressive metal platter that shows just how far Soulfly are pulling ahead of Cavalera's old band Sepultura, who will really need to pull a rabbit out of their hat to top this gem.



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