Another day, another album from Max Cavalera. Soulfly‘s latest offering, Archangel, arrives just 22 months after its predecessor Savages, during which time Max also released a Cavalera Conspiracy album and participated in the supergroup Killer Be Killed. Now, you if you’re thinking, “Gee, Dr. Fisting, that sure sounds like an awful lot of releases for a guy who’s also touring most of the time! I wonder if that affects the quality of the music,” you might be onto something.
The album immediately takes the low road with “We Sold Our Souls To Metal,” a cheap attempt at rallying the faithful. This track amounts to Cavalera rattling off various Max-isms (“fuck you all,” “poli-tricks,” “no,” etc.) while guitarist Marc Rizzo plays licks that sounds like Sonic the Hedgehog collecting 8 billion rings. I’m too old to care either way, but hearing Max Cavalera — a guy who chased trends, grew dreadlocks and collaborated with Fred Durst — pretending that he’s been my trve heavy metal buddy all along, does not sit well with me.
Title track “Archangel” kicks in with a slow chug and some esophagus-destroying vocals from Max, before abruptly transitioning into a riff where Rizzo two-hand-taps his way through what may or may not be music from Super Hang-On. I made a comment to this effect while reviewing Cavalera Conspiracy, and I stand by it: Rizzo’s constant meedly-mee’s and whammy pedal shenanigans completely undermine both the heaviness and metal cred that Max is grasping at. On a positive note, drummer Zyon Cavalera (Max’s son) has grown into a solid, capable drummer since his debut on Savages. And Wikipedia lists Soulfly‘s current bassist as Igor Cavalera….Junior. Max basically gets to go on tour with his entire family, how cool is that?!
The most interesting element of Archangel, honestly, is Max’s newfound fascination with the Old Testament. Granted, he’s probably just getting really stoned and then picking out the cool-sounding parts, but if that’s your plan, you could do far worse for source material. Shouting about “Sodomites,” the “Tribe of Judah,” and “violating the Sabbath!” is pretty sick, but don’t expect the man to convert to Judaism anytime soon. But “Deceiver” proves that a vengeful god is no match for a vengeful Max Cavalera, pairing speedy riffs with furious anger (choice lyric: “I vomit on you”). “Live Life Hard!” features a somewhat jarring guest vocal by Matt Young of King Parrot, and contains terrible lyrics even by Soulfly standards. “Bethlehem’s Blood” has some trumpet overdubs, which could have been used to great dramatic effect if they were in key with the song and didn’t sound like an afterthought. Final track “Mother of Dragons” thrashes righteously for exactly 46 seconds, followed by two minutes of an extremely generic breakdown, ending the album on a definite low note.
It may not be apparent from the tone of this review, but I enjoy a good deal of Max’s back catalog, and I respect his contributions to the genre. That said, I think this might be a good time for him to step back and recharge the creative batteries a little. The last few albums from both Soulfly and the Conspiracy feel pretty phoned-in and interchangeable, and Archangel continues that trend. The Doctor prescribes some much-needed bed rest, and orders Mr. Cavalera to stay away from the recording studio until at least 2017.