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Mus­cu­lar groove metal favourites fire on all cylin­ders for al­bum 11

IN THE MONTHS lead­ing up to its re­lease, Soulfly front­man Max cavalera reg­u­larly told fans that the band’s 11th al­bum would be a “tribal thrash” LP, and one that both he and pro­ducer Josh Wil­bur hoped would re­cap­ture the world mu­sic-in­spired un­der­cur­rent of the groove metal icons’ lauded 1998 epony­mous de­but. And, ini­tially, it ap­pears that Rit­ual is go­ing to live up to its cre­ators’ prom­ises, as it kick­starts to the sound of the thun­der­ous ti­tle track with chant­ing and drum­ming in the style of the Navajo. Fur­ther­more, what lies be­tween the song’s two poles can only be de­scribed as some of the best groove/death metal of Soulfly’s ca­reer to date, unit­ing per­fectly paced rhythms with an­ar­chic vo­cals and crush­ingly an­themic cho­ruses. How­ever, as Rit­ual pro­ceeds, it finds it­self largely ditch­ing the tribal as­pect of its open­ing track, only to re­turn in iso­lated mo­ments in Blood On The Street, Bite The Bul­let and the jazz-flavoured Soulfly XI.

Luck­ily, though, what is found in its place is noth­ing but state-of-the-art heav­i­ness. Max’s fre­netic grunts, the skull-smash­ing weight of Zyon cavalera’s im­pact­ful drum­ming and the thrash­ing lead gui­tar shred­ding of Marc Rizzo are par­tic­u­larly wor­thy of very hefty praise, each of which pack a clear pas­sion and ur­gency be­hind them, the likes of which haven’t been felt on a Soulfly al­bum since 2005’s em­bit­tered Dark Ages.

The end re­sult is pure, un­fil­tered en­ergy: ruth­less au­ral madness that leaps off of the vinyl that it was printed on and de­mands move­ment. Sly hints of im­mense in­dus­trial metal on The Sum­mon­ing and Evil Em­pow­ered only add fuel to the fire, as do vi­cious cameos from Randy Blythe and Im­mo­la­tion’s Ross Dolan.

With all this in mind, Rit­ual might not be what most Soulfly diehards will be ex­pect­ing based on the build-up the group gave it. If any­thing, it is prob­a­bly far, far bet­ter.



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