I would like to give it up to SOULFLY. I would like a full round of applause for the band and their return to better days that is the album “Dark Ages”. Max is finally done with his soul searching (and backing band searching) and it has led him back to his Metal home with roots firm in Thrash Metal. Yes, you read that correctly, Max has gone back to his Thrash roots with “Dark Ages”. Granted it’s still a very modern out look on the Thrash genre but there is definitely a foundation of it on this album.
After a career spent moving back towards this path, it’s really not surprising that SOULFLY would end up sounding like this. I just happened to want this to be their first album instead of their fifth, but I’ll still take it. “Dark Ages” is darker, faster, leaner, and much meaner then anything the band has done before. And for the first time SOULFLY truly feels like a full band.
But naturally, this isn’t a perfect album. But I kind of like to think of this as the ‘new’ SOULFLY’s debut album and thusly I am able to overlook some things. Firstly, there is still the issue of the drastic tribal changes in the music. The blending from Metal section to tribal section is better but still can be a little unexpected. But this has been an issue for SOULFLY since day one so I’m just starting to get used to it. Secondly, the album is quite long and many of the songs do over shoot their length. With the band’s new Thrash sound, many of the songs could have used to be shortened just a smidgen. And lastly, the album once again does weaken quite a bit towards the end. Not near as drastic as say the last two albums but it is noticeable.
With the band raising the bar on their energy level and overall focus these faults aren’t as big as they were in the past. The band overcomes many of them with their undivided ferocity and attack towards their goal. Not to mention with some of the best performances from every band member in SOULFLY’s career (special nod goes to Marc Rizzo once again for his stellar guitar work), it’s really hard not to like this album.
SOULFLY have come a long way. “Dark Ages” is always what I wanted from the band and even though it took 5 albums to get there – this makes it worth the ride. I’m glad the band has finally found its own soul (as this album just fits them so damn well) and even Metal elitists can finally find themselves following Max once again.
Songs to check out: “Babylon”, “Arise Again”, “Frontlines”.
(Online September 23, 2008)