REVIEW: SOULFLY – “Ritual”
After the release of 2015’s ‘Archangel’, Soulfly came through, what they now consider to be, something of a rebirth for the band. Since then the four piece, comprised of guitarist Mark Rizzo, bassist Mike Leon, drummer Zyon Cavalera and the legendary titan of heavy metal Max Cavalera at the helm of it all, have immersed themselves in the making of their next album, ‘Ritual’. If ‘Archangel’ served as a rebirth for the band, ‘Ritual’ brings forth a full on onslaught in the best sense of the word.
Title track “Ritual” seizes the album’s opening moments by the throat and doesn’t let go for a second. Not only does it gift fans with the much beloved Cavalera trademark of infectious grooves married with primitive, tribal chanting, it is arguably one of the best instances in which it has been done. Cavalera has dug deep into the bands roots and scattered these tribal grooves across the album to great affect. Another prime example can be found in the thrashing “Bite The Bullet”. Featuring a hybrid of technical styles from percussive drumming to sweeping guitars and spontaneous bass runs, “Bite The Bullet” locks horns immediately and demands its place among the album standouts.
Throughout ‘Ritual,’ Zyon Cavalera steps up to the plate with a vengeance alongside the seasoned pros he calls his bandmates. Perhaps never more so than in “Demonized”, which depicts the young drummer at his dynamic best. Striking an essential balance between power, technique and passion, Zyon has all the components to be one of the great drummers of metal. Despite not having been in the band since its early days, Zyon bleeds various eras of Soulfly together as if he had been. Reimagining them with his own current stamp and, at the very least, has delivered a performance that undoubtedly warrants being acknowledged.
If this old flame with a new wick approach doesn’t get everyone’s blood pumping straight away, ‘Ritual’ also features some pleasant surprises. “Feedback!” sees Soulfly dip their toes, however briefly, in a pool of Rock n’ Roll. Masterfully trading Thrash and Rock licks back and forth, this number is sure to bring a smile to your face. Though not every number will. Closing track “Soulfly XI” is a curious instrumental piece. With some chillingly good acoustic soloing over beautiful, smooth saxophone (yes, saxophone), the template riff for the entire movement echoes Metallica’s “One” just a little too closely. Overall, a rather unexpected, but very welcomed risk from the band.
A generous sliver of credit can and must be given to the albums producer, Josh Wilbur, who was adamant from the beginning that he would be approaching the record as a fan of the band. An approach Max cites as one of the core components that bring the record to life. Eleven studio albums deep, Cavalera an co. have produced what is easily the best Soulfly album in years. ‘Ritual’ honours the bands roots and core sound, bringing them into this new chapter, this exciting era, this rebirth of Soufly.