Soulfly - Conquer
Roadrunner Records
Modern Thrash Metal with ethnic elements
11 songs (57:17)
Release year: 2008
Soulfly, Roadrunner Records
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

Watching the DVD that comes with the special edition of this, Soulfly’s sixth album, a revelation struck me: Soulfly stopped being Nu-Metal a long time ago. Seeing a hall full of crazed Poles hurtling themselves around to songs such as Prophecy, Seek ‘N’ Strike and Frontlines (disappointingly without the ‘oooh! aaaargh!’s) in a concert recorded just over three years ago, it’s impossible not to recognise the Hardcore in the band’s sound, from the chuggy riffs to the tribal charisma of that scruffy dreadlocked Brazilian that has been such an important part of the Metal world for the last twenty-odd years. Even those that criticise Soulfly’s studio output are generally willing to accept that live the band is a force to be reckoned with – little touches shown on the DVD like the audience member bought up for some wonderfully crap group drumming are quite heart-warming – and this makes watching the DVD quite an experience even for someone like me, that can generally tolerate old Soulfly only when in a certain mood.

Why start with that and not the album? Simply, because putting album numero seis in the context of the band’s first four albums and, to a certain extent, 2005’s Dark Ages, it’s a goddamn revelation. Fine, the earlier release this year of Cavalera Conspiracy’s debut set ears a-waggling, but the bar has been reset. Conquer is the best thing that Max has produced since Roots, or Arise if you’re going to be all fussy about it. It feels more rounded than the earlier conspiratorial release for one, more of an album rather than a collection of songs, and the inevitable ethnic elements are woven into the fabric of the Metal rather than remaining separate as we’ve become used to with Soulfly, giving Conquer an almost Proggy feel.

Almost, but not quite. After all, what with Max merrily telling interviewers how much he loves Napalm Death and Bolt Thrower, and how this will make Dark Ages look like a pop album, it’d be a letdown indeed if there wasn’t a torrent of brutal Death-Thrash riffing, and so there is! Opener Blood Fire War Hate rips away after a brief orchestral intro, complete with guest vocals from Morbid Angel’s David Vincent (it’s a testament to how far Max’s growls have come that it’s hard to tell them apart) and the tribal elements part and parcel of the song, as mentioned. Following track Unleash sounds the most like classic Soulfly at first, the typical screaming guitars here over a wonderfully Meshuggah-esque rhythm section. Another guest vocalist, Dave Peters from Throwdown, gives a Hardcore feel to proceedings, then a percussion breakdown leads to more tech-riffing and a Proggy instrumental section that leads back into the heaviness, a wavering scream from Max introducing yet more brutal riffing… the album would be worth buying for this track alone.

The only slightly negative aspect to the album is Enemy Ghost, some groovy riffing feeling out of place but it’s far from the Nu Metal that some have accused it of, and still Thrashes pretty hard. Still, only one slightly-lower-than-par track on a Soulfly album?! Everything else is untouchable, the tech-Trash of Paranoia complete with acoustic breakdown, the harsh Grind and Techno of Rough, Fall Of The Sycophants’ speed, Mastodon-esque guitars, percussion, and a lengthy solo… everything is more impressive, more technical, bigger, beefier, and better.

There is absolutely no reason for the self-respecting Metalhead not to rush out and buy this, and spend the next few weeks headbanging masochistically to the likes of Warmageddon, Doom (with a wonderful Dub interlude!), and For Those About To Rot. Even finale instrumental Soulfly VI is much better than the five previous attempts, taking a less complex, more general Prog route – it sounds like a laid-back Classic Rock track rather than anything else. All in all, this is a great release that will appeal to many Cavalera fans. Go for the special edition for aforesaid DVD and some bonus tracks, two out of three of which are worth hearing.

Killing Songs :
Blood Fire War Hate, Unleash, Warmageddon, Fall Of The Sycophants, For Those About To Rot
Goat quoted 90 /100
Other albums by Soulfly that we have reviewed:
Soulfly - Archangel reviewed by Goat and quoted 60 / 100
Soulfly - Savages reviewed by Goat and quoted 65 / 100
Soulfly - Enslaved reviewed by Goat and quoted 88 / 100
Soulfly - Omen reviewed by Goat and quoted 79 / 100
Soulfly - Dark Ages reviewed by Al and quoted 89 / 100
To see all 9 reviews click here
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