[ALBUM REVIEW] Soulfly – Ritual

Ritual Tracklist:

Dead Behind The Eyes (feat. Randy Blythe)
The Summoning
Evil Empowered
Under Rapture (feat. Ross Dolan)
Blood On The Street
Bite The Bullet
Soulfly XI

Reviewed by Casper De Ro-Ro 

Traditional fans of the Soulfly experience and newcomers alike, prepare to have your world rocked to new heights, your expectations razed to their foundations and your appreciation of metal music redefined as Ritual sets unprecedented standards of Soufly metal brilliance.

Despite the fact that I shared in the lofty expectations of Soulfly fans the world over with news of a new release, Ritual is far more than we could possibly have expected.

Three years of work and production excellence from Josh Wilbur [LAMB OF GOD, TRIVIUM, ALL THAT REMAINS] have seen Max and the band reach deep within and managed to tap into the very soul of Soulfly (no pun intended) by revisiting the finest of stylistic brilliance within the debut and the groove that made it so appealing.  Then like a swirling vortex, the band have managed to follow the Primitive path and rip like a whirlwind through the back catalog, collecting the momentum of their finest elements and in explosive brilliance, paint the skies with a true behemoth of astonishing metal magnificence.  ‘Their finest yet’ is a phrase I seldom pen and do so with a heavy hand, but in this case it seems a bombastic and shameful understatement.

If the reader will forgive an entirely personal reflection, as I prepared to listen for the first time, the title smacked me right between the eves.  The fact that I was first looking at the cover art, thinking about past Soulfly albums, admiring the Soulfly logo in Shiva’s mask, thinking about you and the band members and how they would sound this time along with how brilliant this will be live…I realised that I was completely immersed in a ritual.   One borne of raw appreciation for metal music.   I recall speaking with Max about the symbolism in the cover artwork by Eliran Kantor for Archangel and it’s being exceptional work as I gaze into the Ritual imagery and think ‘here we are, he’s done it again’.   Realising that cover art appreciation is different for everyone I can’t help but see heavy metal ritual represented throughout.  I see the blood like ground in front of the temple as a seething live festival crowd and the swirl of fire in the sky as a mosh pit forming, but the mirroring of the bow and arrow to me represents a constant.  A reminder that the rituals of heavy metal have been there from the very beginning.  For me, the scene is set to explore those finest ritualistic elements extend into the music itself and the result is a completely immersive journey through the beating heart of Soulfly.

With the scene suitably set the title track opens with a Taiko like primitive drum beat, a ritualistic Navaho chant, the introduction of a metallic screeching siren bouncing between opposite poles and eventually the entire band bursting into a track that is in a word, perfect.  The immediate thrill and satisfaction enjoyed by my inner metal monster is not only overwhelming but achieved in only one track.  As tremendous as you have ever heard each protagonist performing previously, Ritual conveys the metal magic of Max Cavalera, Marc Rizzo, Zyon Cavalera and Mike Leon like never before.   The legendary Cavalera patriarch leads Soulfly into a sound more mighty than ever achieved before.  Each contribution is so astounding that surely all had an equal hand in ensuring their skills came to the fore and were sent soaring in Soulfly celebration.  Every riff, every note, every beat, scream, growl, and lyric is utterly astonishing.  I can not help but reflect again that this album is so much more than any could dare hope for.

Dead Behind the Eyes keeps the same momentum and appeal growing like a monster and the awesome voice of Randy Blythe lends additional dimensions of malevolent vocal energy to that monstrous metal becoming before The Summoning ebbs and flows in might, hurling you hither and thither in the seething pit.

And Under Rapture is sensational musically and most aptly titled with a cameo of demonic growls courtesy of Ross Dolan of IMMOLATION before Demonised opens in gentle el mariachi style but with an obvious malevolence beckoning you forth to the fury and like one whose soul is possessed, you are helpless to heed the warning and are hurled into a landscape of thunderous red skies….demonised.

As I struggle to find elements that shine as highlights above all others or tracks that have special appeal as the bona fide hits, I finally succumb to the furious flow of this masterwork and realise that this collection is the very best of Soulfly from beginning to end.  Every song an instant hit with every element of metal represented to perfection in ritualistic fidelity but like never, ever before.  Soulfly XI is a finale…nay a journey all its own and I firmly believe, complete with saxophone background and acoustic lullaby is something that is personal for the individual listener to experience and describe in their own way.  I leave that particular experience to you one and all. To bask in the afterglow of the most phenomenally brilliant Soulfly collection released to date.  One that defines the band to their core. Relax back in an attempt to return you to some semblance of normal life.  All part of our metal ritual as return back to walk among the ‘normal’ folk, safe in the knowledge that our soul has been revitalised by some of the most engaging, exciting and dynamic metal music released….ever.

Order Ritual HERE