Soulfly - Omen
Roadrunner Records
Modern Thrash Metal
11 songs (40:35)
Release year: 2010
Soulfly, Roadrunner Records
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

It’s been interesting to watch Soulfly’s music transform itself over the years. After all, few people listening to the Nu-Metaltastic Eye For An Eye in 1998 would expect that twelve years later the same band would be cranking out crunchy Thrash songs about Jeffrey Dahmer, but such is the path chosen by Max that you can no longer call Soulfly Tribal Metal. This is quite a stripped-down album, in many ways just like the Cavalera Conspiracy album of 2008 – a shame for fans of 2009’s Conquer, which was the best attempt yet at incorporating world music experiments into a genuinely good Metal framework. Here, he’s primarily playing the same sort of thrashy groove metal that will probably become his signature sound, so if you’re somehow still under the illusion that Beneath The Remains II is just around the corner, think again. Omen is as Thrash as it gets, but is still sure to annoy my comrade-in-arms Thomas for being marketed as more Thrash than it is.

Conversely, as a Death Metal fan I was a little annoyed when listening to discover that, no, this is not as heavy as the Bolt Thrower and Extreme Noise Terror that Max has hyped as his soundtrack for listening to in preparation, something I discover that he did before, checking my Conquer review – but there are Death Metal influences there. All in all, it’s the usual hodgepodge of influences that make up a Soulfly album, but instead of being given room to sprawl, the elements are forced into a tight, fast framework that will take several listens to appreciate properly. Take opener Bloodbath & Beyond, kicking off with punky directness, almost Discharge-y riffs grinding away with the expected breakdown giving a hint of the band’s tribal past with a percussive flourish, all in two and a half minutes – the band, consisting as before of Max, Marc Rizzo on guitar, Bobby Burns on bass and Joe Nunez on drums, are tight and expert, not a hint of sloppiness to be found.

Even the number of guests has been stripped down, only Greg Puciato (The Dillinger Escape Plan) and Tommy Victor (Prong) making an appearance on Rise Of The Fallen and Lethal Injection respectively. Greg’s performance is much more obvious, his quirky shriek taking some verses and mini-chorus of a mid-paced grooving behemoth, contrasting well with Max’s deep growl – a brief pause for some twangy strings, and then it’s back to the frontlines. Tommy Victor’s performance is still great, as is the song, a riffed-up menace with an interestingly psychedelic bit of lead guitar that reminds me I really should get my Prong albums out again and do my fingers and neck some damage. Great Depression might be the Thrashiest track on show, speedy piledriving riffs possibly being the most Arise thing Max has been on since, well, Arise. It’s a little repetitive, but still should surprise people who think that Soulfly have been doing nothing but jumping da fuck up for their entire career.

What disappoints, ultimately, is the repetitive nature of the album as a whole. Songs like Kingdom are great on their own (with an especially good solo) but lose much of their impact when you realise that Omen can’t rise above the same style throughout. The aforementioned Jeffrey Dahmer takes much the same path, as does the following Off With Their Hands and Vulture Culture too, although Max seemingly realises that he’s repeating himself as there’s a bit more epicness towards the track’s end, complete with (more) acoustic twang. Even closing instrumental Soulfly VII is a bit of a step backwards towards the boring and skippable nonsense that this series of tracks used to be, and overall it’s hard not to feel that Omen is a solid but disappointing album. Take comfort with the undeniable Thrashiness of Great Depression and Counter Sabotage – the forthcoming second Cavalera Conspiracy album should be good if Max can remember to mix the songwriting up more.

Killing Songs :
Bloodbath & Beyond, Rise Of The Fallen, Great Depression, Lethal Injection, Counter Sabotage
Goat quoted 79 / 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 - Conquer reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 /100
Soulfly - Dark Ages reviewed by Al and quoted 89 / 100
To see all 9 reviews click here
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