Soulfly - Omen

I think anyone who likes their metal will agree with me when I say that Soulfly's last two records were pretty fucking good. After spending the best part of a decade trying to expand upon the foundations Max Cavalera made with Sepultura on "Roots", he finally decided enough was enough and released the frankly brilliant "Dark Ages" album in 2005 - a post-thrash groove album that made everyone take notice again. Following up with Cavalera Conspiracy's "Inflikted" and another Soulfly album entitled "Conquer" three years later, a lot of people were starting to go 'Holy shit, Max is back!' whilst so-called Sepultura have been stuck in limbo since Max quit in 1996. So discounting the "Inflikted" record, can Max pull off three great albums in a row?

The short answer is no. Whilst "Omen" does put up a very mean front and shows the same aggression displayed on "Conquer", the songs just don't seem quite there in most places - though this isn't to say it totally sucks. This is undeniably a Soulfly album, it oozes Max Cavalera's writing style and will no doubt make fans go crazy for it, and it does have it's merits. Tracks like 'Counter Sabotage' and 'Lethal Injection' are pummelling, aggressive slabs of heavy-as-fuck metal being played by a band who are hungry for blood, and we still have the trademark instrumental piece "Soulfly VII" rounding the record off which is just as majestic as the previous six were and then some. And of course, we have a brilliant production sound and some exceptionally talented musicians to boot - so why am I grading this so low? Well...

One of the guest appearances for one. On 'Lethal Injection' we're treated to Tommy Victor from Prong on vocals, which I am absolutely fine with - if anything, he makes the track infinitely better - however, for 'Rise of the Fallen' we're tortured by the soul-crushing wails of Greg Puciato from The Dillenger Escape Plan. The song itself is decent, but it's almost completely ruined by Greg because (sorry Dillenger fans) he really, really fucking sucks. Soulfly had Morbid Angel's David Vincent on the last album, so why did they go with someone so bad this tme around? There'd have been no harm getting someone like Chris Barnes or you know... someone who actually sounds good. Secondly, the song titles and lyrics are absolutely hilarious - I mean, come on. 'Mega-Doom', 'Jeffery Dahmer', 'Vulture Culture'? Are you kidding? It's like a ten yer old came up with these, further marred by the fact that Max has a tendency to repeat song titles in songs at at alarming rate, with 'Bloodbath and Beyond' and 'Mega-Doom' being the worst culprits here. Speaking of 'Bloodbath and Beyond', this was the track I was looking forward to the most - judging from the clip shown on Soulfly's studio diary, it seemed it was going to be another blistering thrasher much in the same vein as 'Blood Fire War Hate' from the last record.

But no, that clip we were treated to was incredibly misleading - what we saw is essentially the base of the whole song. Repeated about four times, then into a mid section to end that I'm certain was on the last album anyway... and this leads me to another issue here, which is the songwriting in general. Whilst "Dark Ages" and "Conquer" were extremely varied, a lot of the songs here sound very similar or just feel half-baked, such as 'Kingdom' and especially 'Mega-Doom' which sound like they were written in a hasty attempt to finish the album. Repetition rears it's ugly face far too often on this album, and to make matters even worse there are a few songs that dramatically dip in quality halfway through - which is far worse than just wrting a song that's crap from start to finish in many ways. Luckily the few genuinely good songs are intact all the way through - and thank God, because if Max had somehow managed to screw up say, 'Soulfly VII' then I think the shit would well and truely hit the fan.

The only way to describe "Omen" is 'disappointing'. It's not so awful that it should be avoided at all costs (Max used up that card with "Primitive") but after two amazing albums in a row, it just seems that Soulfly can't keep up the momentum and end up sounding kind of dated. There're still some killer songs on here, with 'Great Depression', 'Lethal Injection', 'Counter Sabotage' and 'Soulfly VII' being the absolute best, but don't wade into this expecting to hear another leap forward for the band because disappointment will come and kick you in the balls. I've really been looking forward to "Omen" and I feel extremely let down by it, but I suppose some of the more die-hard Soulfly fanboys will find more to appreciate here. Here's hoping that Max Cavalera can remedy this with the new Cavalera Conspiracy album, but this will do for those who need their Max fix. But I'm certain that most old school Sepultura fans or anyone who loved the last two albums will just go "Wow, this sucks. I'm off to listen to 'Conquer'".

1. Bloodbath And Beyond
2. Rise Of The Fallen
3. Great Depression
4. Lethal Injection
5. Kingdom
6. Jeffrey Dahmer
7. Off With Their Heads
8. Vulture Culture
9. Mega-Doom
10. Counter Sabotage
11. Soulfly VII

Roadrunner Records
Reviewer: Dave Ingram Jr.
Apr 23, 2010
Next review: EA - Au Ellai

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