Few names invoke as much majesty in the world of melodic death metal than Swedish …
Ritual marks twenty years since Arizona-based thrash-groove metal band Soulfly’s debut release. As their eleventh album, Ritual is one of Soulfly’s strongest to date. Across ten relatively succinct tracks, Ritual stands out as one of the finest examples of vocalist and guitarist Max Cavalera’s approach to infusing metal with the primal spirit of diverse musical cultures.
Opening with its title track, a spinechilling Navajo chant announce that Ritual is serious, giving way to an eerie slide into the guitars and Soulfly’s hallmark dense thrash groove. This is one of the most captivating opening sequences ever created on a Soulfly album and it perfectly introduces the main agendas of Ritual, which has been heavily influenced by Cavalera’s interest in and collaborations with the Navajo. Ritual is a rhythmic, entrancing track, and the recurring theme of indigenous oppression turns to aggressive resistance in tracks such as The Summoning, that make it clear that for First Nations, spirituality and the politics of empire and government are not separate.
Ritual stands out as one of the finest examples of vocalist and guitarist Max Cavalera’s approach to infusing metal with the primal spirit of diverse musical cultures.
Blood On The Street, with its flute and percussion intro and thundering mid-paced rage, stands out as one of the tracks that capture Cavalera’s intangible strengths as a songwriter—Cavalera’s music is inherently anti-establishment, in a most sincere way. On Ritual, one can strongly sense the reignited passion embedded in the connection between cultural-political themes and tribal sound.
Alongside Soulfly’s collaboration with the Navajo, Ritual features musical cameos from Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe and Immolation’s Ross Dolan, who both bring refreshing textures to Dead Behind The Eyes and Under Rapture respectively. Overall, while each track is strong, there is little that is entirely new for Soulfly on Ritual, with the beautiful exception of the final track, Soulfly XI. Opening with enchanting acoustic guitars and sultry bass lines, Soulfly XI slides into a moody saxophone and classical guitar instrumental that shows us that while there are plenty of new musical horizons for Soulfly, Cavalera still has the power to reach into the listener’s soul.
STANDOUT TRACKS: Ritual, The Summoning, Blood On The Street
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