It’s kind of odd really how time has worked with Max Cavalera. Back when Soulfly came out, the best quality of the band was that it took Max’s music fully into directions he wanted to explore bout really couldn’t with Sepultura. For many people, they will say quite a different thing, but hear me out. Far too many people criticized Soulfly for NOT sounding like Sepultura’s ARISE or CHAOS A.D., even though that really was never the intention. Somewhat predictably though, the years that have gone by has seen Cavalera progress (or regress depending on your stance) more and more toward the classic Sepultura sound. The last two albums, OMEN and DARK AGES, could easily have been mistaken for Sepultura reunion albums. The same can be said about Cavalera’s project with his brother, Cavalera Conspiracy. The same can now be said about ENSLAVED.
With ENSLAVED, Cavalera breaks no new ground at all. The entire album is one furious blast forward after another; a never ending blast of hammer to the face speed metal that borders from time to time on death metal. Gone is the punch, Korn-influenced vibe of past Soulfly songs like “Jumpdafuckup” or “Back To The Primitive”. In its place, you get slammed over the head with dose after does of speed and aggression. Songs like “Legions” are very much stylisically similar to material from the past – songs like “Arise” come to mind. If you were a fan of the first three or four Sepultura albums (up through CHAOS AD), there’s really no reason you won’t dig ENSLAVED.
Therein lies the bigger issue though. Soulfly has really stagnated. In large part, Cavalera is way overexposed at this point. He’s released 5 full length albums in the last 5 years, and the resulting effect has been a lack of song development and a gluttony of songs that are written to sound like the past instead of truly being organic development off ideas. Listening to a song like “Intervention”, you have to think that Cavalera simply consciously (or unconsciously) took an old song like “Dictatorshit” and repopulated the ideas with new lyrics and a slightly different guitar arrangement. Certainly it’s a good tune, and guitarist Marc Rizzo and new drummer David Kincade enhance it, but it just sounds like stuff we’ve heard before from Cavalera. Yes, ENSLAVED is a solid album, but it’s a bit tired because Cavalera himself has put out far too much similar material to it in the last five years.
PITRIFF RATING – 75/100 - Max Cavalera will always be one of my favorite metal guys ever. ARISE was the first disc I owned that took me from Bay Area Thrash to a whole new level of heaviness. That said though, it’s time for Max and company to take a break after this one. While I can listen to this kind of heavy music all day long, its never good when everything you do all starts to blend together to where there’s nothing distinguishable about it. That time has clearly come with Cavalera and Soulfly. It’s good as they all are, but even a hardcore fan would be hard pressed to distinguish any of this from anything else of the last five years.