Soulfly: Omen first impressions

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Soulfly Omen

Soulfly, "Omen"

Soulfly’s upcoming May 25 release – “Omen” – has just been posted in its entirety for streaming at Blabbermouth.NET…but only for 24 hours!!  We took this opportunity to listen to it and give our track-by-track first impressions of what sounds like a sure-fire classic to the Soulfly catalog!

Let’s \m/ it up!

“Bloodbath and Beyond” contains a more classic thrash sound than recent Soulfly offerings; even the guitars seem to be back in the more “metal” tuning of Chaos A.D.

“Rise of the Fallen” is a bit more primal, but features some awesome trade-offs between Dillinger’s frontman and Cavalera, with Max almost solely featured on the heaviest parts.  Definitely reminiscent of his stint with the Deftones on Around the Fur because of that.  The song title is probably the biggest crime thus far on the album; how generic can you get?  Still the track is pretty damn good.

“Great Depression” features the more typical Soulfly guitar distortion (“Korn-stortion” as I like to call it, because that’s what it reminds me of).  There’s some cool melodic hooks that are not very typical of Soulfly’s music, including a slow, melodic breakdown and Megadeth-y solo.  It’s not entirely new or unique, but it’s different for Soulfly, and certainly effective.

“Lethal Injection” is a mosh-riff with squealing guitar bends that plays to the punk roots that Max has carried throughout his career, quite proudly.  The vocal effect over Max’s voice takes away quite a bit of his bark, however, and weakens the track.  There’s a neat little solo interlude, but it ultimately doesn’t jive with the rest of the track’s substantial heaviness.  It’s therefore an uneven track: heaviness = good, solo-thing + Max’s voice = weak.

“Kingdom” continues the melodic verse riffing of “Rise…” along with a stock heavy riff that works well because of the neat little bendy melodies plugged into it.  You can feel the intensity of the track, though again Max’s vocals sound a little weak.  This time it’s not from weird electronic distortion, but because it sounds like the dude just hasn’t had enough Black Tea with honey it; Max’s voice is bordering on shot in this song.  Very unfortunate, because the track is so good (great solo rippin’, too!).  He’s voice doesn’t ruin the track, but it’s noticeably weaker than other areas of the disc.

“Jeffrey Dahmer” opens with a typical chugging riff, but the chorus part is a sweet series of sliding chord hits that bring back the nostalgia of 80s thrash at its best.  I don’t know what the hell “Master Cannibal!” really means (how do you “master” that?), but I’ll be damned if this song isn’t creepy and thrashy.  The solo is very reminiscent of Machine Head’s recent work, for some reason: old school made new again.

“Off With Their Heads” is just shy of being timely, considering Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” is now in-between film and DVD release dates.  Somewhat typically, it’s a chugging mid-tempo thrasher, but this time broken up by several shredding solos after each 16-bar section (roughly), turning it into more of a guitar song than probably any other Soulfly track in existence.  The 2-minute mark brings a break down that absolutely rules.  That they chant “Sick!” in it only makes it all the more badass.  There’s something you might notice if you’re listening to the volume low (a crime when listening to Soulfly, by the way): the guitars are tinny and weak.  But once you boost the album to normal volume levels (i.e., ear-crushingly loud), it’s amazing how full the production work sounds.  Not sure if this purposeful, but something to keep in mind.  Play album at full volume!!

“Vulture Culture”…isn’t this a Moonspell song?  Nope!  At least not musically…um, or lyrically.  It just shares the name.  This is a “Biotech is Godzilla” style raging thrasher, though the 1 minute mark brings a totally sweet melodic solo followed by pinch-harmonic breakdowns.  This might be one of the heaviest tracks on the album because of it’s short-yet-controlled burst of anger.  Ending on an orchestral, acoustic-lead dirge, this track is just awesome.

“Mega-Doom” starts off with what could be the intro to a Zombie Apocalypse movie.  Although Max’s accent makes it a little tough to piece together what he says when he’s speaking, the point is more the subject matter and the music anyway.  Super melodic intro, brutal aggro-metal riffage, and a modern thrash attack in the bridge-section: this track really plays up the percussion end of the Soulfly crew.  It’s shorter than it should be, leaving you with the feeling that you’ll need to repeat the track like six or eight times before you can move on.  That’s both good and bad, but we’ll go with good for the sake of this argument.

“Counter Sabotage” is more of the old-school thrashing punk, and features more vocal distortion on Max, but this time it doesn’t weaken his vocal attack.  It’s as if he’s growling at you from behind a megaphone.  The solos are again along the lines of Megadeth, and provide an excellent centerpiece around which the rest of the track pummels you.  There’s a part where the chugging skip-riffs of the guitar are backed by super-precise snare hits, and it proves heavier than the stereotypical “follow the guitars with the bass drum” schtick that so many other bands do.  Dialing things down (in terms of speed only) on a crazy series of bent notes, this track rams itself into home run territory.

“Soulfly VII” is the continuation of Max’s epic jam suite that started what seems like a million years ago, and has remained very cool from the start and up through this track, too.  A little more reggae in parts, a little more fusion/guitar jazz, it’s peaceful without being wimpy, melodic without sacrificing the bottom-end heaviness. It’s still amazing how effortlessly Max can direct a band from brutal aggression to beautiful harmony at the drop of a hat.

So with that, I’d say this is a solid 4 stars.

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For more information:  Check the links below for more Soulfly craziness, and hear a track courtesy of YouTube!

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Tell us what you think in the comments below!

About Tim Bannock

Decanted from clone tanks with a defective MemoMax download, Tim Bannock is the definition of Tabula Rasa. At this time, nanites use his body as a vehicle with which to wreak untold havoc upon the digital medium.