Album review

Soulfly : Prophecy
Roadrunner Records

Soulfly : ProphecyTimes Square, NY. A man stands on a small plastic box with a bible in each hand, talking, almost shouting, to the busy passers-by in the stale city heat. No one takes notice. The people walk past neither listening nor thinking about what the man has to say. There are easier ways to put a point across to a large audience. If that man were Max Cavalera of Soulfly he would realise that to make people interested in your personal beliefs, it makes it a lot more interesting to wrap them up in the form of super-fast sonic tribal metal. Soulfly present Prophecy; metal for the spiritually minded . . .

Since their self-titled release in 1998 Soulfly have masterfully blended an arsenal of foreign instruments, Brazilian-American passion and deep religious roots to create a sound of their own. Prophecy is no exception.
    The scope of this album is massive: Heavy metal, tribal drums, soft interludes and even a dash of reggae grace the 12 tracks. Max Cavalera also believes in changing his band as much as his music, and this time round we find the dread-headed anarchist backed up by on guitar by ex-Ill Niño man Mark Rizzo, and percussion from returning Soulfly drummer Joe Nunez. Possibly the strangest aspect to the line-up is the split bass duties of Bobby Burns of Primer 55 and - wait for it - Dave Ellefson of Megadeth! Cavalera feels it's right for a different line-up every album, and it has to be said that this is a belief that has never been proved wrong over the course of the band's four releases.

This is by far the most varied Soulfly record yet, dashing manically between out-and-out metal, to pan pipes and bongo drums, to instrumental flamenco pieces. For those who are worried by this, fear not - there is just as much to slam-dance to as there is to sit back and reflect upon. The reflective songs are a lot denser on this release compared to the other albums though. There is the traditional self-referential number, this time called Soulfly IV, while female vocals carry us through the last soft track, which then morphs into a rather strange brass band piece. Experimentation certainly is the focus.
    It is a good record, but not as good as Primitive, Soulfly's second release, and the best in my view. If you want a straight metal album you're far better going for something else, but if you crave for an album a little bit deeper, more cultured, experimental and involving, Prophecy is your soul mate.

:: Graham Drummond

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