Prophecy is the fourth and latest album from Max Cavalera’s post-Sepultura project, Soulfly. Armed with a whole new cast of musicians, including ex-Megadeth bassist Dave Ellefson on half of the tracks, Max has delivered the ultimate Soulfly album, devoid of the abundance of special guests that oftentimes hampered the first two albums, and the rushed feeling that permeated the mediocre 3.
The album opens up with “Prophecy”, a heavy groove-driven track accompanied by tribal percussion that would not have sounded out of place on Sepultura’s Roots album. “Living Sacrifice” kicks in with a cool little guitar intro before laying in with a chugga-chugga mosh-worthy main riff that practically demands you to move your head accordingly before mellowing out into a trippy interlude and closing with a heavy breakdown riff. “Execution Style” and “Defeat U” keep it heavy while introducing a punk rock vibe.
Now is when the album lapses into Soulfly’s primary weak spot: the diversion into mellowness and the desire to introduce foreign instrumentation and musical styles into the equation, both of which ultimately result in listener frustration. The first violation is “Mars”, which starts out with the same heaviness of the prior tracks, but after two minutes goes into a Spanish guitar/reggae type of thing which just completely kills the vibe. “I Believe” is a little less frustrating, surrounding the mellow clean-vocal moments with the main heavy riff and the growls of Max, before going off into a Pink Floyd-like tripout in the final minute – but at least the clean break helps to distance it a bit. Finally, we have “Moses”, which is dominated by horns and guest reggae vocals, incorporating the Soulfly heaviness for just a few brief moments in the middle, ending entirely with the reggae instrumentation.
OK, back to the heavy now with “Born Again Anarchist”, probably the heaviest track on this album and even vaguely reminiscent of the Chaos A.D. era. “Porrada” begins effectively with Spanish guitar – and why not? The song is sung entirely in Spanish, and pretty damn heavy in its own right.
The album effectively ends with an odd choice for a cover, “In the Meantime” by the recently reformed Helmet. Max’s twists on the song had me thinking of “Territory”, but just like Sepultura did with Black Sabbath’s “Symptom of the Universe” on Nativity in Black (albeit better), Max tacks on some foreign instrumental stuff at the end (this might be the stuff from Serbia, but I can’t recall, and have no bio to reference). Again, a clean break between the song and this part helps to give them some distance (or, to let you know when you can skip ahead).
OK, so there are two tracks after this, both instrumentals: the obligatory “Soulfly IV”, and album closer “Wings”. Well, the latter has female vox during the first few minutes. Then, something really weird happens: a marching band. Yes, there is a marching band playing here, and the album ends on that surreal note.
So, while we have a very good album here, it’s hard to not get frustrated at the pointless moments here. I can respect Max for wanting to explore and incorporate other forms of music into his metal, being a fan of bands like Skyclad, Fintroll, and Dub War/Skindred, but the difference is that these bands blend them together while Max lets them stand out. Still, the rest of the material is well worth your cash, unless you never liked Soulfly in the first place, in which case you’ve wasted your time reading this. But, since I’m a nice guy, I’ll validate everybody by saying that Prophecy is everything you’ve always either enjoyed or disliked about Soulfly.