There is a mere difference of eighteen months between Soulfly’s previous album, Enslaved, and their latest, Savages. Whilst this may cause many to believe that Cavalera and co. are rushing themselves far too much, it does appear that there have been quite a few changes in the last year or so. For one thing, Cavalera has recruited none other than one of his own sons, Zyon (who drums for Lody Kong), and from the heavy opening grooves of “Bloodshed” you’ll notice his distinctive musical talent straight away. Forget the fact that Cavalera’s one-time legendary band, Sepultura, also have a new album coming out pretty soon, since Savages is certainly one of Soulfly’s most accomplished and brutal outputs to date.
With virtually every track living up to the album’s title, Soulfly’s latest very rarely lets up on aggression, brutality and most importantly grooves. Both “Cannibal holocaust” and “Fallen” are so consistently heavy that you may need to check your stereo/laptop for excessive damage, and the ludicrously named “Ayatollah of Rock ‘n’ Rolla” (Featuring none other than Clutch frontman Neil Fallon) breeds contempt with every passing minute. The former songs hark back to Sepultura’s glory days, short but sweet bursts of thrash metal grinding along to Cavalera’s monstrous roars, the latter a slower burning, more restrained eye-opener, making way for a style of distinctive heaviness and pummelling groove. Zyon shows off his chops at many intervals throughout Savages, particularly on the semi title track “Master of savagery”, which bursts into acts of aural violence, and most prominently on the more tribal influenced “El Comegente”, sung entirely in Portugese and would certainly be the perfect musical accompaniment to a tour through the darkest, most “savage” ridden areas of the natural world.
The instrumentation on Savages is, as always with Soulfly, very prominent. Guitar work focuses sometimes on heaviness and groove, as on “Spiral” and “This is violence”, other times on slow-burning grooves (“Master of savagery” will have your head banging slowly but surely) but most of the time keeping up with Zyon’s fairly straightforward albeit well-executed drum rhythms, and thus the whole thing sounds ideal for a fan of Soulfly’s previous three albums. Various guest vocalists have been recruited, most interestingly Mitch Harris of Napalm Death, whose gut-wrenching screams always prove divisive amongst fans of extreme metal and his vocal style fused with Cavalera on an otherwise simplistic “K.C.S” gives rather mixed results. Neil Fallon of Clutch proves a more pleasant surprise. For one thing his calm, narrative approach to the beginning of “Ayatollah of Rock’ n’ Rolla” gives the Savages quite an interesting twist, yet later on in the track he really brings out the rawer side of his own vocal style, sounding at times like his throat has been cut with the sharpest shards of glass.
All this is probably nothing new to a fan of Soulfly, given that the band have been trying to become heavier and groovier with each consecutive release, but you could do a lot, lot worse than be introduced to Max Cavalera’s work via the “savagery” of Savages. There isn’t any disappointment here. This is simply another solid output from Soulfly’s, and indeed Cavalera’s collaborative musical talent, and the replay value here is quite a lot to say the least. Savages is a beast, and perhaps one of the better releases of late 2013.
2. Cannibal holocaust
4. Ayatollah of Rock’n’ Rolla
5. Master of savagery
7. This is violence
9. El Comegente