Soulfly – Ritual [Review]

Max Cavalera is enjoying something of a renaissance. Quietly – not sonically of course –  he’s had stellar output since 2012’s Evolution, both with Soulfly and The Cavalera Conspiracy. It all appears to be flying under the radar. The glory days of the man who brought us Morbid Visions, Chaos A.D. and Roots are once again upon us. Now we have Soulfly’s 11th studio album, Ritual.

Opening with tribalistic chanting and a whammy pedal lead guitar, there are echoes of the instant classic Roots. In fact, there is that nu-metal bounce throughout the verse and chorus, but it doesn’t feel dated. More of an homage to the past, and certainly not a regression. The swing and groove of the verses and chorus are juxtaposed by the thrashing wiry bridges which harken back to earlier Sepultura. The song feels like an amalgamation of Max’s history, updated with his unmistakable newer sound. It’s Soulfly alright, and what more could you ask for?

The album sounds gorgeous, and as metal as it comes. Unsurprising given that Josh Wilbur was at the producing helm. Having made his name working with Lamb of God and Gojira, he certainly passes the heavy test necessary to work with such an iconic group of musicians. Max’s vocal mix truly show just what an inspiration he’s been to Gojira’s Joe Duplantier, and both his and Marc Rizzo’s guitar tone wouldn’t be out of place on Lamb of God’s Wrath. Randy Blythe himself even makes an appearance on album highlight, Dead Behind the Eyes. It’s a little slice of groove metal excellence, and would fit perfectly into Lamb of God’s Ashes of the Wake.

The album also features a guest appearance from Immolation’s Ross Dolan. Under Rapture is the zenith of the album’s heaviness, and blissfully adept. There’s no question that Max and Marc have still got their playing wits about them. The whole thing is sits atop a powerhouse performance from drummer, and Max’s son, Zyon Cavalera. Throughout the album he gives a masterful display of percussive proficiency, and plays with a grooving swing that has a youthful exuberance. It’s good-time playing incarnate.

This album does not wallow in the past, rather, it celebrates it. A wonderful nostalgic trip through Cavalera’s glittering career, without any feeling of being dated. It’s a crowning achievement and the perfect victory lap for the legitimate legend.

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