Album Review: Soulfly - 'Archangel'

24 August 2015 | 3:52 pm | Staff Writer
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Giving fans what they want, but not offering anything new, exciting or stimulating.

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Coming from rich and cultured metal roots, Max Cavalera is often noted as one of the pioneers of the groove metal, and, somewhat later, thrash metal genre. Famously known for his work in Brazil’s most heavy export, Sepultura, his efforts with Soulfly have been an equally successful and worthwhile endeavour. ‘Archangel’, Soulfly’s tenth studio album, is exactly what you'd expect. If you’re a fan of over the top riffage, intense vocals and surprisingly technical drumming, then this album is for you. Although, don't come into it expecting something that will blow your mind or something experimental - it’s a true thrash record that offers listeners what they have expected from Soulfly for just under twenty years.

The opening track, the standard (and uninspired) titled 'We Sold Our Souls To Metal', throws you right into the action with its aggressive riffs and abrasive vocals, sadly - the song doesn’t really go anywhere. Cheesy lyrics about metal screamed above three minutes of the same rhythm doesn’t stimulate anything more than a yawn, to be brutally honest. 'Archangel', the album’s title track, continues much in the same vein, with less lacklustre lyrics. The track does a slightly better job at offering an interesting moment for the record. Equally, 'Sodomites' is the first song that brings something new to the table; featuring Todd Jones of popular hardcore band NAILS, the track offers fast-paced riffs that aren’t just the same drop-tuned strumming over a fast, aggressive beat - the song also features a pretty mighty guitar solo. So, points awarded. However, 'Live Life Hard!' follows 'Ishtar Rising', and is one of the lesser tracks. Although the inclusion of King Parrot's Matt Young, somewhat of Aussie metal royalty at the moment, adds much needed substance to proceedings. His high-pitched shrieks bring an intense punch and despite the generic “Go hard or go home; Go hard or fuck off!” chant/yell, the song still is lively and engaging.

With about fifty per cent of the album completed, the general vibe is well established, and things don’t really change later on. 'Shamash', another gritty track that hits you hard, suffers in comparison to the track that preceded it. 'Bethlehem’s Blood' continues, and offers nothing out of the norm for 'Archangel', until trumpets are blown, quite literally, and acoustic guitar folds in. 'Titans' thrashes into action with guttural vocals and heavy riffs, but, once again, doesn’t establish itself from other songs that well. With the final few tracks, Soulfly try to throw in their last remaining punches. 'Deceiver', one of the more up-tempo and aggressive tracks on the record, actually proves to be an enjoyable and unique listen, offering a solid guitar sound and different riffs. 'Mother of Dragons', assumedly a Game of Thrones reference(?), is a decent song that finishes the album better than it started. Neither good nor bad, 'Archangel' is satisfactory but not excelling.

Soulfly are good at catering to their fans wants: aggressive tunes thrown together with brutal metal precision. Simple tastes aren’t always a bad thing, and music doesn’t have to be complex or technical by any means to be good. However, what 'Archangel' lacks is depth and dynamics. Most tracks sound like the song that played before it, offering nothing more than thirty-six minutes of the same thing, going as far as to employ guest vocalists to change things up a little bit. It is noteworthy to add that two of the tracks featuring guest spots are better than most songs on the remainder of the record. 

1. We Sold Our Souls To Metal

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2. Archangel

3. Sodomites (feat. Todd Jones of NAILS)

4. Ishtar Rising

5. Live Life Hard! (feat. Matt Young of KING PARROT)

6. Shamash

7. Bethlehem’s Blood

8. Titans

9. Deceiver

10. Mother Of Dragons (feat. Richie Cavalera of INCITE)