To be honest, reviewing Enslaved, the most recent release from Soulfly, was a strange experience for I am not worthy to comment on the creation of one of the most respected and virtuous metal bands ever. I knew I would have to tread carefully so as not to offend all the metal snobs, so I did my research on this one, crossed my T’s and dotted my I’s. At the risk of compromising my journalist integrity and viewpoint, i hit the forums to see what chatter had been going around about the band and the album…a lot of the kids out there seemed to back my opinion. Described by Soulfly’s new man on sticks David Kinkade as ‘Arise on crack’, Enslaved, the eighth release from the band, though technically savvy, masterfully brutal and peppered with fusions, really holds very few, if any, points of difference from previous Soulfly releases, or general Metal releases for that matter.
Though don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing bad about that! When bands release albums like these after a seriously credible career, they aren’t trying to re-invent the wheel, they’re trying to maintain a sound and message that their fans have been loyal to all these years. So fuck em’ I say…if you’re onto a good thing, why change? The 14-track deluxe edition features 3 bonus tracks and kicks off with the introduction track Resistance. With the distorted growling vocals and smashing drums, Resistance really sets the mood for the rest of the album – Pure fucking metal.
As the album continues with World Scum, the first single to be released, what draws the most agency is the badass double kick layered over those vocals that every now and then seem to touch the ‘white noise’ side of the spectrum, but for the most part are fairly audible. It’s the guitar and the lyrics, however, at this point that seem to indicate that Soulfly, who normally seem very interested in challenging boundaries, really are playing it safe. With lyrics like ‘Bloody century is upon thee, revolution, war and disease’, they’ve chosen to stick very closely to the modern concepts of metal rather than pushing the limits in the normal Soulfly lyrical fashion.
Gladiator is the next stand-out track. With an almost Djent vibe, this song will probably be getting some serious ration on my iTunes for the next few years. Telling the tale of Gladiators in the BC of Rome (albeit in a very simple lexicon) which in my opinion is a theme every metal album should have on it. It’s about half way when shit gets real and the soloing begins – absolutely classy shredding. The dark tones and imagery of this track is creepy as all hell and totally awesome.
As the album progresses, rarely will the band stray from the straight and narrow path that is generic metal. Redemption Of Man By God could probably be placed smack bam in the middle of this path, though it really is an awesome metal song. The vocals and the drums are hard, consistent and menacing, while the guitar creeps in and out, taking the reigns with short but sweet shred sections, about half way through the vibe mellows, exposing us to some atmospheric instrumentals and some bizarre audio byte — the impact of which was a bit lost on me.
But I digress. The album manages to climax a few more times before petering out. Plata O Plomo would have to be my favourite track off the album. Though I don’t speak a word of Spanish, it just sounds so awesome, infused with some Spanish flamingo guitar – it’s just something different! A total hidden gem.
The Non-deluxe version finishes with Revengance, and as much as it pains me to say this, listening to the track I couldn’t get the image of Nathan Explosion, Murder Face and the other members of Metalocalpyse performing this. Check it out, see what I mean?
With the addition of three bonus tracks: Slave, Bastard and Soulfly Vill, the album does have a lot of rad content. The only problem is that it is all very similar. If you’re looking for something fresh you haven’t heard before, maybe keep looking; however, if you’re looking for a brutal, comfortingly familiar and easy to listen to metal album with some good replay value, Enslaved is perfect for you.