So as I was driving into work the other day, Soulfly’s latest release calming my road rage-frazzled nerves, it suddenly occurred to me that I had been preparing for this review all wrong. It being their sixth album, the band doesn’t really require an in-depth analysis or critical dissection; their history pretty much speaks for itself at this point. Also, with two months having passed since the release, most of you have likely already formed an opinion. So, with that in mind, I will be looking to give a rudimentary analysis of Conquer, continue the discussion theme of multi-instrumentation addressed in my previous Soulfly reviews, and toss in a few random nuggets of thought along the way that may or may not include reactions to the pre-lashes.
Conquer in many ways is a continuation of the heavier, “Soulpultura” sound of Dark Ages, which saw the band discard many of the tribal/nu-metal elements in favor of straight-up heaviness. “Blood Fire War Hate,” for example, is every bit as heavy as a song with a title like that should be. This is soon followed by “Paranoia,” which holds down a nice thrash groove. Almost equally as heavy is “Fall of the Sycophants,” although the refrain of “Destroy this fucking place!” does get a bit tedious after awhile. In a different vein, they offer up “Touching the Void,” which more closely resembles doom metal than anything else. It’s an interesting change-up from the rest of the album and stands out in a good way because of it.
Soulfly reverts back a bit here with the multi-instrumentation, but still do not saturate the album with it. Acoustics and tribal percussion are used mostly as outros, an exception being a halfway interlude on “Unleash.” Once again it is a mixed bag of stuff that works/flows and stuff that just seems sort of tacked on. The outros on “Paranoia” and “Doom” transition smoothly from the main riff, whereas the same on “Fall of the Sycophants” and “For Those About to Rot” seem to come from out of nowhere, dragging down otherwise solid tracks by making them a tad too long. Then there is of course the mandatory “Soulfly VI,” which oddly enough only uses the standard instrumentation with both acoustic and electric guitar.
This album nearly slipped under my radar completely. At the time of its release, there was still a good amount of buzz around frontman Max Cavalera’s Cavalera Conspiracy project, the debut album of which album had been released only a few months prior – plus they were in the middle of a headlining tour. I’m not sure anyone would have expected a Soulfly album under those circumstances. Then again, with all eyes already pointed in Max’s direction, why not hit the people with “Oh, by the way, here’s a new Soulfly album, too”? Along these lines, I found it disturbing that initially, whenever I would think about this new Soulfly album – even after listening to it – the song that would start playing my head was either “Living Sacrifice” (from Prophecy) or “The Doom of All Fires” (from Cavalera Conspiracy’s Inflikted). I didn’t think it was a good sign that the songs I was associating with the new album weren’t even on the new album. Then again, those songs had months or years to work their way into my psyche.
I’d have to say that Conquer falls somewhere in between Dark Ages and Prophecy in terms of both content and quality. While it is at least equally as heavy as Dark Ages, it does employ much of the instrumentation that was heard on Prophecy (but thankfully, no marching band). If you missed those latter sounds, Conquer just might be the album for you. If you jumped on the Soulfly train for the heaviness of Dark Ages, the added sounds may disappoint you here. Either way, you cannot deny that this is a Soulfly album, and that’s all Max wanted to make and all that most fans want to hear.