All these years later and SOULFY still brings it proper with the kind of tribal-infused thrashing aggression and groove that could only be connected to one man, guitarist/vocalist Max Cavalera. He wasn't the only reason SEPULTURA blazed trails, as evidenced by the more than respectable catalogue of the Derrick Green era, but he damn sure leaves a permanent mark on whatever he touches. SOULFLY celebrates its 15th anniversary in tiptop shape with an album in "Enslaved" that not only roars like a lion; it pounces on its prey like one too.
Along with guitarist Marc Rizzo, bassist Tony Campos (STATIC-X), and drummer David Kinkade (BORKNAGAR, ARSIS, MALEVOLENT CREATION), Cavalera leads an attack that is often up-tempo (yet changed up in all the right places), fierce in a way that straddles the line between death metal and thrash, and written with one foot in the past and one in the present (think "SEPULFLY"). As if that weren't enough, Dez Fafara (DEVILDRIVER) and Travis Ryan (CATTLE DECAPITATION) contribute to the knockout with forceful blows of their own. Collectively then, the sound of "Enslaved" is one that is comfortably familiar, yet never staid, and as heavy as anything we've heard from the band. The songwriting is consistent across an album that reveals several highlights, including a brutal stomper called "World Scum" with its gang shouted chorus and cracking tempo shifts, "American Steel", and "Gladiator", each one a real SOULFLY gem. The pace is slowed for the most part on closers "Chains", an especially dark one, and "Revengeance", a beefy, monstrous, and soul purging cut about Cavalera's slain stepson Dana Wells. The latter song is made extra special by the appearance of stepson Richie (vocals) and sons Igor (vocals) and Zyon (drums).
If there is one thing that is conspicuously absent on "Enslaved" it is filler. The term can't even be applied to album opener "Resistance", an epic intro with a grotesque down tuned riff, drums of thunder, and distorted words spoken by Cavalera declaring that it is better to die a free man than live as a slave. A speeding nod to old school toughness called "Intervention" is similar to "World Scum" for the way it launches itself at the listener, while "Plata O Plomo" (with Tony Campos also contributing on vocals) absolutely shines when Rizzo breaks into some beautiful flamenco guitar.
Neither rules nor boundaries have been broken here. All SOULFLY does is open up a big ole can of Whup Ass on "Enslaved" to go along with songwriting that sticks and performances that are energetic to say the least. If Max has mellowed with age you sure as hell wouldn't know it listening to "Enslaved".