Max Cavalera has been taking Soulfly in a heavier direction for several albums now, but the last one, Omen, slowed things down somewhat. Now, Enslaved is here to kick everything back into massive overdrive. This CD will cave in a few skulls when unsuspecting listeners pop it in and wait for Max to "go through the motions" with some standard groove metal. In my opinion, these songs resemble Sepultura's sound more than any other Soulfly release, but it's not a straight Sep sound; you can hear the unmistakable stamp of both bands in almost every song. Cavalera and company thrash it out from one track to the next, refusing to let up for a moment. Even the slower sections crush, like on Legions and American Steel, where the groove is more about head-stomping than jumping around. Combined with their past discography, this album solidifies Soulfly's legacy as a top-tier metal band. Incredible.
By the third and fourth Soulfly albums, the band seemed to have grown comfortable with a familiar formula, giving the impression in their music of repetition and simplicity, which also carried over into the song arrangements. Lyrics kept getting more and more simplistic, songs got shorter, and a certain lack of fire spawned many Soulfly critics who suggested Max was losing some of his creativity. Enslaved puts those notions to rest. Each song is fleshed out; they all feel complete in a way they didn't on Omen, and to some extent, Conquer. Riffs have more drive, new drummer Dave Kinkade absolutely rips it up on drums, and new bassist Tony Campos lays a crushing bottom-heavy foundation. Much of the melody brought by Marc Rizzo on the last few albums has been replaced with pure speed and aggression, though his skills still shine with some choice classical and flamenco interludes. Make no mistake, Max was out to make a statement with Enslaved, and he's succeeded. I'm happy to say this is a full-fledged five-star album for Max Cavalera and Soulfly! For anyone interested, here's a closer look at a few highlights.
Resistance--Short intro track with some Chaos A.D. power-drill guitars and shouted-word vocals.
World Scum--Death metal destruction with Cattle Decapitation vocalist.
Intervention--Relentless thrash assault with old-school sound.
American Steel--Meaty riffing, powerful drumming, and a HEAVY breakdown.
Redemption of Man by God and Treachery--Ultra-heavy speed-groove, with nice vocals by Dez from Devildriver on Redemption.
Plata O Plomo--Old Soulfly tradition of Portuguese lyrics with a stomping beat and great riffs.
Chains--Epic track, over seven minutes, that runs the gamut of Soulfly's metal repertoire with thrash, groove, and even a blast beat.
Revengeance--Max and his sons finish the album with an almost Nailbomb sense of industrial heaviness.
Great bonus tracks on the special edition include the thrasher Slave, which ends with some classic lines from Tribe off the first Soulfly album. Next, Bastard might be the most standard track of the whole collection, sounding like a basic groove-based Soulfly song that could be on just about any release. Finally, the eighth installment of the Soulfly instrumentals is the first to incorporate a violin, throwing an entirely new twist on the spiritual, tribal element for which these tracks have come to be known, and strengthening the overall sense that each musician involved put everything they had into the making of Enslaved.