Published Oct 16, 2018In the metal community, Max Cavalera's name carries attention-grabbing weight. Whether it's his legacy leading Sepultura, dragging nu-metal into the thrash world while avoiding a lot of the cringe-worthy aspects of '90s bro-metal, or any of his other consistently good projects like Nailbomb or Cavalera Conspiracy, the man has stayed busy and remains relevant. Although the past few Soulfly records have been somewhat forgettable, their latest, Ritual, is some of the best work the band have done so far.
The most notable thing about Ritual is how well the band pull off so many different vibes across the album. The title track kicks things off with some classic grooves, as one would expect, but from there the band start covering every base you would want them to. "Dead Behind the Eyes" is practically a death metal track and has some standout vocals from Lamb of God's Randy Blythe, while "The Summoning" brings some straight-to-the-point thrash metal to the table.
"Evil Empowered" sees the band embrace some mid-tempo chugging, right before launching back into brutal death metal vibes on "Under Rapture," which features some extreme guttural vocals from Immolation frontman Ross Dolan. Tribal elements are as present as they are in any Cavalera project, standing out particularly well on the closing of "Blood on the Street," which features some amazing drum work and chanting.
The one addition that seems strangely out of place is the punk-meets-Motörhead-meets-thrash-metal on "Feedback!," which isn't necessarily bad, but does feel very out of place. The track almost sounds like a cover song tossed in towards the end of the record — its approach is so different from everything else on the album — but a single sore spot does not make an album bad. In classic Soulfly fashion, the album closes out with an eerie, calm instrumental in "Soulfly XI."
To see an older metal band like Soulfly still innovating their sound this far into their career with success is an incredible feat, to say the least. Unlike so many other bands that have been around this long, Soulfly aren't stuck trying to recreate the magic of their early releases and remain inspired to improve. (Nuclear Blast)