Like how the in-demand Samuel L. Jackson manifests everywhere in film and commercials, Max Cavalera appears to be hell-bent to grind out metal every waking second he has. If he's not on tour with his brother, Igor, resurrecting live full renditions of classic SEPULTURA albums, Max has CAVALERA CONSPIRACY and, of course, SOULFLY to churn his restless need to roar. SOULFLY is celebrating a 20th anniversary featuring Max and his son Zyon (drumming on his third straight SOULFLY album), along with guitar specialist Marc Rizzo—the metal world's greatest hidden treasure—and bassist Mike Leon.
SOULFLY has been subject to change over its long duration, which has seen Max Cavalera focusing heavily on a decade's worth of pure thrash and death metal from "Dark Ages" through "Archangel". Since 2003, Marc Rizzo has been the sparkling X factor to this continuous sequence of fast-flung bombast, which all but rebuffed what Max originally sought from SOULFLY. Considering SOULFLY served as a genre-busting purge project for all that Max and his Cavalera tribe suffered during the late nineties, it's refreshing to hear that spirit of dynamics from the first four albums make a welcome return on the eleventh slab, "Ritual".
Funny enough, Marc Rizzo, who still slays as all-hell on "Ritual"—he shows every lick he has, acoustically and electric on the spectacular "Demonized", "The Summoning" and "Bite the Bullet"—is less the highlight, considering all he's done for the Cavalera family and their numerous stable acts. It's not even the fact LAMB OF GOD's Randy Blythe makes an appearance on "Dead Between the Eyes" and IMMOLATION's Ross Dolan on "Under Rapture". It's not even the superb production of Josh Wilbur, who has also worked on albums by TRIVIUM, PAPA ROACH, MOTIONLESS IN WHITE and Jonathan Davis. This is much heavier stuff to rope in, and he does an amazing job.
The joy strikes immediately upon launching "Ritual" where you're greeted with a tribal chant soundbyte with the accompanying march of riffs harkening back to SEPULTURA's "Chaos A.D." along with the first few SOULFLY albums. Later, the reed instruments and tribal crashes opening the cataclysmic "Blood on the Street" and the clannish drumming on "Bite the Bullet" will have longtime SOULFLY hangers-on rejoicing.
Randy Blythe leads the attack on the thrash-happy "Dead Between the Eyes", which appropriately sounds like a collision of both SEPULTURA and LAMB OF GOD. Yet after that, Marc Rizzo assumes headship with a black metal-esque shower of hellish riffs opening "The Summoning", which asserts more of a proto pounce the remainder of the way. Zyon Cavalera's hammering is equally effective as Rizzo and Max Cavalera's winding riffs, yet Zyon shows his true potential with muscular double hammer in spots on "Evil Empowered" and "Under Rapture", where his father yells with spit-flung empowerment. If you're a parent, how can you not appreciate Zyon's ability to crush the snare in tandem to his dad's spritzing and bellowing?
While thrash has its place on "Ritual", this album is a happy throwback to SOULFLY's early material, whether you're geeking over everything that hounds of SEPULTURA on "Bite the Bullet" or Marc Rizzo's shamanistic performance on the saxophone-assisted "Soulfly XI". How about that wonderful hardcore party on "Feedback!" A Portuguese 1 to 4 count off: "not a fucking regret."
Max, bless you, old soul. SOULFLY has shredded all these years, but this is the album we've needed, without fucking regrets of the band's past. NAILBOMB revival after the "Beneath the Remains" tribute tour, if you please. Marc Rizzo, first ballot vote into The Hall of Heavy Metal History, I'm starting the campaign here and now.