Games Meet Metal: Soufly's Omen-The Riff Review

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Soufly's Omen-The Riff Review

Well, it's official. Omen is Soulfly's 7th album, thus eclipsing Max's album count in Sepultura. And it's been a weird ride since the first self-titled release. From close to copying Root's tribal instrumentation, to nu-metal wankery, then to a more traditional thrash metal style, all leading up to today. Not that I have a problem with Soulfly's past catalog. There's some great anthems in there, and Dark Ages is the bee's knees of the whole collection. But now it sounds like Omen is Max back full circle to his old Sepultura days, as well as giving it a hard dose of punk.

Omen's first track, "Bloodbath and Beyond", gives you a good primer for the rest of the cd. Punishing guitar, more guttural than usual singing, and the big kicker: a distinct lack of tribal elements, Yep, Omen's the first Soulfly cd to put all those foreign instruments and influences on the back burner. In it's place, you have a track that is just crushing. No long interludes either, as Bloodbath starts right away with a blast beat and doesn't let up. Then the punk vibe kicks in with the second track, "Rise of the Fallen". Not only does the slower pacing give a more punk vibe, but guest vocalist Greg Puciato (of DEP fame), brings it more towards early 80's hardcore than anything Max has ever done with Soulfly.

The thrash continues with "Great Depression", and then goes straight back to punk for "Lethal Injection." "injection" also gives us another guest vocalist in the form of Prong frontman Tommy Victor. Hmm, guest vocalists and a punk vibe. I sense a pattern. Then, the pattern goes straight south as the next track, "Kingdom", is possibly the most melodic track Max has ever written, no matter what band he's been in. By default, it's also my favorite track off the whole cd.

The jumps between thrash and punk going for the length of the cd ("Vulture Culture"? Hardcore and punk. "Jeffrey Dahmer"? Way more thrashy.), until we get tot the one mainstay for all Soulfly: the self-titled instrumental track to end the whole thing. Continuing gimmick aside, even Soulfly VII takes a cue from the rest of the cd and has absolutely no tribal beats, instead going for a mellow pseudo Jamaican vibe. It's like if Cynic got simplified and really really baked.

The final verdict: Omen is the most different Soulfly cd ever released, but not the most varied. The self-titled and 3 probably take the varied crown. instead, it favors simplicity in metal over cramming tons of foreign influences into every song. If the tribalness of past Soulfly records has turned you away, then Omen will bring you back for another visit

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