Saying this new SOULFLY album “Archangel”, “is pretty damn good’ could very well be an understatement depending on what your current taste in extreme metal is. Seems as though Max Cavalera has been listening to a bunch of black metal lately as this is one of the darkest SOULFLY albums to date. It’s still SOULFLY, still what you’d expect in certain areas, but at the same time, another well-done change. Here’s my take track by track of the CD/DVD/Deluxe version of the “Archangel”.
The disc starts out with a punky almost up-beat sounding hardcore-ish track “We Sold Our Souls To Metal”. Probably the brightest (as far as emotional happiness and “joy” goes) if there is any on this album. Following it is what we’d expect of SOULFLY with the dark-sounding title track, “Archangel” where a bit of melodic guitar work can be heard while the time changes in the song set it apart from average metal fare in true Marc Rizzo style.
Up next is “Sodomites” featuring vocals by Todd Jones of NAILS—one of my favorite songs on the album—which has an intro that sounds like a band Max was previously involved with and made successful in the late 80’s and early to mid-90’s. Good crowd participation and groove song here with some DM and BM influences. Lyrically it is from passages in the Bible… Huh? Although Tony Campos has left SOULFLY for FEAR FACTORY right after the recording of “Archangel” the bass parts he lent sound great on this song as well as the rest and key to this album’s overall heaviness.
In “Ishtar Rising” Marc Rizzo’s solos are still there, but seems a bit subdued–and that’s fine, in this album the riff is King along with its cousin groove.
I think SOULFLY made the perfect choice to have Matt Young guest on “Live Life Hard!” and it is another stand-out tune for me on this album. Matt is the demon-possessed, psycho, water bottle emptying, butt-crack showing front man for Melbourne hardcore/punk/thrash/grinders KING PARROT and his wild-man screechy and newly shown guttural vocals only make this song better than it was probably originally intended to be as live he embodies the title. Blast beats are present but the song breaks down in to a smelly pit of dirty, crusty sludgy metal… Though it is a bit simple lyrically it has decent musical dynamics and a winner overall.
Want occult chants? You’re in luck, “Shamash” starts out with a cool, but brief chant of sorts (which are heard throughout the song) then goes full-on into a hair whipping frenzy of riffs. Again Rizzos’ leads are minimal but meaningful and add to the track. Seems a bit dystopian lyrically, but that’s ok—if you are expecting uplifting songs about unicorns and rainbows, it is a reminder you have made the wrong purchase.
“Bethlehem’s Blood” sounds a bit familiar as another release I’ve heard in the last year or two from another band because of the “rams’ horns” in the track, but it works and this is nonetheless a decent track I’ll listen to again. The horns add a very apocalyptic mood to the song.
“Titans” follows and brings a bit of the thrash flavor that Cavalera is an expert in, but the symphonic BM influences are heard here as well as other parts of the album. Yet another favorite of mine and also the third longest track on this version of the album clocking in at 4:44.
Track number 9, “Deceiver”, starts out fast and furious with intensity and show some great guitar prowess in the riffs expertly riffed out by Max and Marc. Soon breaks down into a tasty wah-lead by Rizzo before going into and end of the song galloping bridge section sure to have thrashers everywhere wrecking their necks.
Keeping the Cavalera tribe involved in SOULFLY is something we can always expect from Max so it is no surprise Richie and Igor Cavalera (Max’s Sons—from INCITE and LODY KONG, respectively) share lead vocals with Max on the track, “Mother of Dragons”. Also featured is another metal artist, Anahid who is an Iranian woman and vocalist of MASTER OF PERSIA (“M.O.P.”). This and the previous tracks are responses full of the hate to those who have assumedly trashed Max/SOULFLY/the Cavaleras in general and it is delivered with vehemence. Or maybe they are for anyone talking down to anyone and actively keeping them down… But I guess that’s for the listener to determine.
A NAPALM DEATH cover of “You Suffer” is included as the first of three bonus tracks on the CD/DVD/Deluxe version of the album with Max’s grandson, Roki, doing a vocal intro. Wait–Max is a grandfather now? What is happening to my heroes? It took longer for me to write this than the song’s length. Hard to offer opinion on a song this short, but nonetheless, NAPALM DEATH are a great band to listen to. Enjoy.
Next is “Acosador Nocturno”–a song about Richard Ramirez with the vocals delivered by Tony Campos. As an American that only speaks English, I’m not opposed to this type of stuff and think it is a good break from the normal stuff I normally hear. Rizzo rips a couple of good solos in this one as well.
Closing out the album is an acoustic instrumental, “Soulfly X” that has a bit of a TOOL flavor in its feel. It features Roman Babakhanyan playing a “duduk”—and Armenian woodwind instrument. Not too surprising that Max has done this with Roman as SOULFLY has included world music on several of their previous albums and it shows the true artistry that the group has. This song it kind of mellows you out from one of SOULFLY’s shortest (if not THE shortest) album to date.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Zyon Cavalera’s drumming style is fitting and unlike the previous album not lacking in any area like it seemed to be at times on the last one. Plenty of straight forward playing but with some tasteful flair where it needs it on the album. The young man is definitely coming into his own and I can’t wait to hear what he brings live and in future SOULFLY efforts.
Is “Archangel” a return to Max’s former band days but with modern day sensibilities, techniques and trends? Maybe I’m too much of a romanticist with the bands I grew up with… Did the band have a chat with Nergal during pre-production and discuss his new album, “The Satanist” in depth? Maybe. If so, does that mean it is a perfect “cold, frost-bitten” and/or “kvlt” elitist BM album? Nope and I don’t believe it was intended to be, but I can definitely hear the BM and DM influence on this record. Matt Hyde undoubtedly has been a huge factor in the sonic presentation of this disc as his experience with several styles of music production shows. Also and once again, Max Cavalera has his ear to the ground bringing what may be unknown or “up and coming” artists to his musical tribe proving he has, in fact, sold his soul to metal.