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Soulfly incite a musical uprising on Enslaved, their eighth album for Roadrunner Records.
This time around, the heavy metal tribe treads extreme territory by incorporating blast beats, violent riffs and wheezing whammy squeals into its patented groove-driven war cry. All of those elements converge within a concept record about slavery—a first for legendary frontman Max Cavalera [Sepultura, Cavalera Conspiracy].
This is also the inaugural offering from the group’s new lineup featuring bassist Tony Campos [ex-Static-X, Asesino] and drummer David Kinkade [Borknagar] alongside Cavalera and guitar cohort Marc Rizzo. Ever since the band’s gold-certified debut in 1998, Soulfly have become deadlier and more dangerous with each critically acclaimed successive release, but Enslaved sees them roaring like never before.
The genesis of Enslaved can actually be traced back to Sepultura’s groundbreaking and seminal album Roots in 1996. Shortly after its completion, Cavalera began pondering the idea of doing an entire album centered around the theme of slavery. However, he put that thought on hold. Until now.
“I’ve had this concept for a long time,” revealed Cavalera. “I actually thought it would be a Sepultura album, but that never happened. Soulfly went on, and I never forgot about the idea. Coming off the road supporting Omen , I knew this was the best moment to do it. We’re tackling an extreme subject with the heaviest music we’ve ever done. Everything is connected. When you’re singing about something harsh like this, heavy music is the perfect match.”
With Kinkade and Campos in the fold as of early 2011, Soulfly entered Tallcat Studios in Phoenix, Arizona with producer Zeuss [Suicide Silence, Hatebreed] to realize this vision. While in the studio, Cavalera continued to challenge himself and his bandmates.
He recalled, “We tried to be more original. Zeuss really pushed me to work hard on the lyrics, and I decoded something fresh. Musically, the songs have pure fire. We call Dave ‘Dave the Duck’ because his feet are so fast that they must be webbed,” chuckles Cavalera. “I’ve known Tony since Soulfly toured with Static-X in 2002. He’s an amazing bass player. Everything works like a machine.”
That machine devastates on the blood-spatteringly brutal first single “World Scum.” With a guest spot from Travis Ryan of Cattle Decapitation, the song unleashes a torrent of blazing fretwork and double bass drumming, and Cavalera sounds possessed as he trades vocals with Ryan.
He reveals, “The song is about all of the evil in the last century. It covers the Nazis, John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki. Then, it examines religion ending on the final war between good and evil. Travis sounds so fucking insane.”
Elsewhere, “Legions,” “Intervention” and “Chains” directly explore slavery and its effects upon society over thunderous guitars and screams. “Gladiator” nods to the film of the same name as much as various documentaries the singer studied following Roman slaves who became heroes in the Coliseum.
Keeping up Soulfly’s legacy of collaboration, Cavalera enlisted the help of some other very special guests. Longtime friend DevilDriver frontman Dez Fafara lends his viscerally violent vocals to “Redemption of Man By God,” which is by Cavalera’s admission, “pure venom.”
Cavalera kidnapped Fafara from his sound check during a Phoenix show, and he laid down his vocals in one magical afternoon session. “I’ve wanted to do something with Dez forever. We’re on the same label, and we grew up with each other’s music,” says Cavalera. “He’s absolutely killer. The song ends with a creepy sample of this preacher. He’s talking about the angel of death sparing those with the lamb’s blood on their door in Exodus. It came through Tony’s cabinet randomly and we recorded it. I took it as a sign.”
“Revengeance” saw the frontman collaborating with his sons Zyon on drums, Igor on guitar and vocals and Richie on vocals. As the track delves deep into their brother Dana Wells’ tragic death, it was a pivotal moment for the Cavalera clan on the album.
“That was family day in the studio,” he adds. “I wrote the first of the song, and Igor wrote the other two. He ended up recording all of the guitars though. I don’t even play on the song. It’s a bit different from the rest of the record. Zyon did a great job with the vocals, and Richie sounds incredible. It’s a subject that’s close to all of our hearts. When it was done, I felt like a proud papa.”
Cavalera has every reason to be proud. Nearly 15 years into Soulfly’s career, he’s built their most bludgeoning arsenal of anthems to date. As always though, there’s no end in sight for Cavalera and co., especially once they hit the road.
“I want people to go mental when they hear Enslaved,” he declares. “I want them to freak the fuck out. This is extreme. This is Soulfly.”
Get ready to join the uprising.