It’s amazing to consider how far SOULFLY has come as a band. With their Nu Metal roots almost completely purged from their sound, SOULFLY has been moving further and further into Thrash Metal territory with each record, the culmination of which being their last album, “Conquer”. It’s a move that has seemingly made a slew of new fans and kept the old ones around for more too. Thusly, it’s not a huge surprise to find that “Omen”, the bands seventh full length record, continues on this Thrash path albeit with some new things thrown into the wind.
SOULFLY will always retain a bit of that Groove spice that Max Cavalera (vocals, guitars) has loved to use since the mid-era of his time with SEPULTURA so it’s no surprise that the Groove makes its partnership with the Thrash tendencies in large proportions here. The Groove/Thrash combination is nothing new to this band and its foundation on “Omen” will be a nice comforting sound to fans. Songs like “Bloodbath & Beyond” or “Great Depression” definitely are bringing the Thrash and still one gets “Rise Of The Fallen” or “Mega-Doom” that is bringing the swing. It’s a pairing that works.
The interesting and unique thing about “Omen” is its dabbling into an older Hardcore sound. Hardcore and Thrash have always been close cousins, generally speaking, and it’s an interesting move for SOULFLY to even go further that direction. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that Max now has a pretty straight forward Thrash side project CAVALERA CONSPIRACY with his brother Igor that he decided to take a slightly more Hardcore vibe on “Omen”, with its raw heavy more rhythm oriented production, but it’s a move that might start to alienate some fans that were hoping he would move further towards that old SEPULTURA sound that has become classic. It works for the most part on this album and even though I feel like guitarist Marc Rizzo tends to be overshadowed here too much (he’s one hell of a shredder on the guitar and that seems to be pulled back here both writing wise and production wise) the band seems to work well with the ideology for this album.
So if there was one aspect to “Omen” that came as the most shocking, it would be the lack of the tribal elements to the album. One thing that Max carried over from his last years with SEPULTURA was this use of tribal elements (drums, acoustic guitars, folk-like sections to balance out the heaviness) in his music. “Omen” marks the first time in a very long time that these elements seem to be missing en masse. Although we get some pseudo-tribal moments here and there, like the ending to “Vulture Culture”, there seems to be a significant missing side to SOULFLY. If one has read some of my other reviews of the SOULFLY catalog, one can tell that tribal and Metal sides have never perfectly melded, but it was something that one came to expect from this band and not having it here as a major part of the album (sans the expected ending ballad “Soulfly VII”) actually seems to leave a void in the music. It’s almost weird when one notices it on “Omen”.
“Omen” is SOULFLY still moving into new territory with focuses on more Hardcore elements and Thrashy moments, but its lack of tribal elements and subdued use of Rizzo’s amazing guitar talent tend to make it feel more like a step backwards from the last album. Fans will definitely find plenty to love on the album (it has its gems) but it’s not the best from the band. Count this reviewer looking forward to the already completed new CAVALERA CONSPIRACY more so now than ever.
Songs to check out: “Bloodbath & Beyond”, “Vulture Culture”, “Kingdom”.
(Online July 11, 2010)