Album review: SOULFLY – Savages

Nuclear Blast – Out Now.

There are not many musicians out there who have willingly parted ways with one of the biggest Metal bands in the world and can still hold claim to a decent career, but Brazilian musician/song-writer Massimiliano Antonio “Max” Cavalera is hardly what can be described as an average musical personality.

Having fronted Thrash Metal combo Sepultura during what has undeniably been the most successful phase of their career (1987-1993), the ex Belo Horizonte/now Arizona resident continues to attract the interest and attention of the world-wide Metal community through the constant release of heavy-laden albums under the Soulfly moniker – the latest being the aptly named “Savages”.

“Savages” is the kind of album that most Soulfly fans will almost certainly take a liking to, however, it clearly portrays Cavalera’s band in what can only be described as a precarious position.

Unable to decide whether they should continue using the successful formulae of their last two albums or indulge in new musical ideas, the quartet, with Max’s 21 year old son Zyon now firmly behind the drum kit, created a ten track album which is quite passionate and daring but which clearly lacks the inspiration and spontaneity of its very successful predecessors.

Even though the six minute “Bloodshed”, with its heavy-laden groovy riff, dark narrative and clever lead harmonies, has provided a bombastic and much promising introduction to the album it is not long before the first signs of fatigue reveal their ugly face.

“Cannibal Holocaust” may have a strong late 80s Sepultura appeal to it but it is hardly capable of arousing strong emotions, while the Fisher-esque (Cannibal Corpse) style vocals on “Fallen” are not enough to raise its pretty average profile.

It is almost ironic that the song with the silliest of names holds the strongest appeal but that is exactly what…“Ayatollah Of Rock ‘N’Rolla” has achieved with the assistance of a high-energy head banging riff and cleverly-crafted melodies, courtesy of long term and highly-acclaimed lead guitarist Marc Rizzo.

From this point onwards what “Savages” is capable of providing the willing listener with is a group or straight forward, honest riff-driven compositions that prove willing to explore new musical avenues but which never fully commit themselves to that end.

I am sure that a lot of you will find the futuristic lead guitar effects on “Master Of Savagery”, the eerie outro of “K.C.S” and the repetitive solo on “Soulfliktion” to be fairly appealing but none of them, when compared to any of the band’s classic material, fares al that well. One minor exception is “El Comegente” – a truly inspired eight minute composition which is driven by a high octane groovy riff and which also showcases Rizzo’s well-documented acoustic guitar skills in its closing section.

“Savages” is hardly what one can describe as a bad album: if it were, a copy would not have been on its way to me as we speak. Having said that, much as I love and respect Max as an artist and am willing to support him in his musical quest, I am not blind to the fact that the material that he has recorded for this album lacks the energy and imagination that have made Soulfly the band that I have been proud of supporting these last seventeen years.

I am well aware that there are musicians out there who should have given their right arm in order to be able to present these ten compositions as theirs, but Max Cavalera is capable of so much more and we, his passionate and loyal fans, should settle for nothing less.


John Stefanis


Rating: *** ½ (3.5/5.0)

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