Soulfly - Enslaved
Roadrunner Records
Thrash/Groove
11 songs (53:50)
Release year: 2012
Soulfly, Roadrunner Records
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

You can tell just how god-damn metal Soulfly have become of late from the stunning fact that Metal-Archives.com have accepted them onto their site after years of refusing because they were too nu-metal. Of course, those of us who listen to music based on how good it is rather than whether Satan has personally blessed it with his scaly penis have long been aware that Soulfly *are* metal, the likes of Dark Ages, Conquer and Omen lacking all but the faintest hint of jumpdafuckupery, and even 2004's Prophecy having enough thrashy groove to at least surpass the minimum requirements for metalhood-dom. My personal favourite Cavalera-related record of the past few years (and I'm including the high-quality Cavalera Conspiracy in the running) is still Soulfly's Conquer, the added experimental aspect to the diverse songwriting just pushing it above the close runner-up, Cavalera Conspiracy's suitably heavy Blunt Force Trauma.

Enslaved is the follow-up from Max to that album, and it follows in its path by being an aural punch in the face, in places quite possibly the most death metal he's ever been since Morbid Visions! First track proper World Scum is the chief example of this, having the sort of rolling blastbeats and devastating riffage that's generally associated with Bolt Thrower. It features Cattle Decapitation's Travis Ryan in a guest spot, gleefully vomiting into the microphone in parts whilst Max's usual apocalyptic predictions fill the surrounding groovy thrashings. It's a potent formula and all the more so for being a familiar one, yet never has Soulfly sounded so heavy, so lifeful, so professional. This presents something of a problem for a reviewer, since it's tempting to listen to Enslaved, hear an album that doesn't live up to Conquer (insert your own personal favourite from recent Cavalera if you disagree with me there) and conclude yet again that Max stretches himself too thinly and should write better songs on fewer albums.

Such was my assumption before listening to Enslaved, after Blunt Force Trauma's brilliance, but I am happy to be proven wrong - this is excellent, easily better than 2010's disappointing Omen and almost up there with Conquer. Wherever you turn, you're faced with vintage Soulfly, aggressive tunes like Gladiator fighting their way through with catchy groove riffs, almost Mithras-y waterfalls of liquid soloing, and even plucked sitar to prove Max still has what it takes in the songwriting arena. I'm struggling to pick highlights, since the temptation is to list them all! Each song seems to have an energetic gang-shouted chorus that is designed for live chanting, surrounded by a complex web of guitars that is a mile above the stereotypical Soulfly soup. Legion takes that basic Soulfly post-Prophecy template and ties it to a metallic rocket, some lovely melodic soloing adding spice. American Steel features the mandatory tribal percussion and boing-y ethnic instrumental moments, and all are so tastefully utilised that I'm immediately and pleasantly reminded of Conquer's excellent world music experimentation.

Redemption Of Man By God is a punkier form of thrash that contrasts well with the deathlier/groovier tracks, featuring Dez Farfara on guest yowls in one of his least annoying moments (Coal Chamber being possibly the only 'metal' band I genuinely hate) and reminding us that yes, Max's god-bothering is still a vital part of his music, and is still more than capable of improving it. Plata O Plomo is pretty much pure groove, nicely intersposed with acoustic jingling, whilst various junior Cavaleras pop up in Revengeance. As a whole, the album's a great reminder that Max is a metal legend - a fact clear whether you're an 80s thrasher, a 90s groover or a wide-eyed newcomer. Each era of his has much to recommend it, although we all have our favourites, and each plays differently to my ears given time and a fresh approach. Enslaved gives hints of each decade's style, but is by far a creature of its time; a modern, professional, aggressive yet melodic metal album that grows with each listen. More than solid, from the first listen, Enslaved is a triumph, and will be on my playlist for the rest of the year - until the next Cavalera release, at least! The special edition is worth picking up for three bonus tracks, the groovy attacks of Slave and Bastard and Soulfly VIII's traditionally prog-infused bit of instrumental melody.

Killing Songs :
World Scum, Gladiator, Legions, American Steel, Treachery, Plata O Plomo, Chains
Goat quoted 88 / 100
Other albums by Soulfly that we have reviewed:
Soulfly - Archangel reviewed by Goat and quoted 60 / 100
Soulfly - Savages reviewed by Goat and quoted 65 / 100
Soulfly - Omen reviewed by Goat and quoted 79 / 100
Soulfly - Conquer reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 /100
Soulfly - Dark Ages reviewed by Al and quoted 89 / 100
To see all 9 reviews click here
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