Produced by Max Cavalera; Engineered by Otto D’Agnolo; Mixed by Terry Date. “Soulfly III” and “Zumbi” mixed by Max Cavalera and Ott D’Agnolo. Recorded at Chaton Studios, Phoenix, AZ. Second engineer Jamison Weddle. Mixed at the Record Plant, Hollywood, CA. and Chaton Studios.
When I started this project I sorted out the CDs that I’d received and identified any doubles: CDs that I already owned. Thankfully there were very few; maybe only five. This was one of them.
Probably like many of my generation I first encountered Max Cavalera with Sepultura‘s Beneath the Remains (1989) on Tommy Vance‘s legendary BBC Radio 1 Friday Rock Show. I followed them through the 90s until Max split from the band in 1997 and formed Soulfly. I was disappointed but pragmatic. I’ve seen both bands live since and I actually enjoyed the Sepultura performance more, if I’m honest.
It’s been an interesting week getting familiar with this album again, Soulfly’s third. Top tip: if you are ever in any doubt as to which album you are listening to, chronologically-speaking, just look for the number after the self-titled track on the album. This one, track 12: Soulfly III.
There are some Soulfly albums that I absolutely love, and have found to be quite spiritual experiences listening to. Primitive (2000) is a favourite of mine, and I’m rather fond of Prophecy (2004). This album is quite a mixed bag for me. There are elements that remind me of Sepultura tracks of the Chaos AD (1993) or Roots (1996) era. Other elements offer glimpses of Cavalera’s Nailbomb collaboration with Fudge Tunnel’s Alex Newport. And then there are the reggae/rasta-influenced beats, and halfway through a detour into nu-metal. Excuse me while I shudder for a moment.
The album blasts into life with a solid thrashing “Downstroy”. Is that even a word?!
Next up proof that Metallica got there first with the slickest “Seek and destroy” leaving everyone in their wake to find less comfortable ways to say the same thing. Nuclear Assault claimed “Search and seizure”. Here Cavalera and friends offer “Seek ‘n’ strike”.
Track three, “Enter faith” is another blinding romp.
Next, “One”, builds slowly into a rather melodic, Korn-esque nu-metal anthem, which is better than many offerings in that genre. But would be better elsewhere.
Never fear, the track with the abbreviated title is here. This is a bit of a metal tradition. Think Testament’s “C.O.T.L.O.D.” (“Curse of the legions of death”), or Flotsam & Jetsam’s “P.A.A.B.” (?) and “U.L.S.W.” (Ugly lying stinking wench). Soulfly this evening offer L.O.T.M.: Last of the Mohicans.
“Brasil” is a typical, Soufly south American-influenced tune, refreshingly with Portuguese lyrics rather than English.
And then things take a bit of a turn with “Tree of pain” which begins with a tripped-out exercise with a female vocalist but morphs into an ugly thrash-fest at 2′ 23″, before returning to the psychedelic musings about seven minutes in. It doesn’t really work for me.
Track nine always takes me a little by surprise: a one minute silence in memory of those who died in the 9-11 attacks on the US.
“Soufly III” is, as ever, an acoustic exploration. I really must create a compilation album of all the “Soulfly n” tracks.
This album came with four bonus tracks, a Pailhead cover, a Black Sabbath cover, and two live tracks. I’m not a huge fan of live tracks posing as bonus tracks, they have to offer something pretty darned special if I am going to get excited. Sadly these don’t.
This is a really solid album. For the most part. There are a few moments where Cavalera takes the songs into strange territories which results in an album which lacks a certain internal congruence or consistency.
But why not, they’re his songs. Why not explore and push the boundaries. For me it doesn’t spoil the album but it doesn’t sit in my mind as amongst their best. In parts it feels as though Cavalera’s looking for inspiration, and relying on Soulfly-by-numbers or reaching back into his back catalogue to help him out.
That said, it’s still a better album than many I’ve listened to.
Review score: 90%