July 10, 2019

Soulfly - Dark Ages (2005)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Groove Metal
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© 2005 Roadrunner Records
AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier
There's not much to be said about Dark Ages that hasn't been said about Max Cavalera's several other masterworks to date. Whether you're talking about his masterworks with Sepultura (Chaos A.D. and Roots) or Soulfly (Soulfly and Prophecy), or even his one-off Nailbomb album (Point Blank), the praise often seems the same: bloody-meat raw production, subtly dynamic songwriting, the obligatory ethnic experimentation, an in-your-face delivery, varyingly passionate conception, and a ceaseless emphasis on rage and revolution. Sure, his Soulfly catalog has its share of miscues -- namely Primitive and III, which were both spotty -- but for the most part, Cavalera rarely ceases to deliver fascinating music, even at this distant point practically 20 years into his career. Dark Ages is no exception in this regard. The 15-song album never does hit a lull. It arcs slightly, kicking off with a punch to the face and peaking with "Molotov," "Frontlines," and "Innerspirit" before drifting into edgier waters of experimentation that ultimately recede with the album closer, the ten-minute instrumental "Soulfly V." Some would say that Dark Ages is one of the least "Brazilian" of Cavalera's Soulfly albums to date (an unfair metric that pointlessly gets dragged out every time he releases a new album), and sure, it certainly does seem more straightforwardly metal than some of his previous albums. Still, it's far from straight metal. Rather, it's alternative metal in the proper, welcome sense of the term. It's rare to encounter such a surefooted metal album that plays so well -- one that is fresh-sounding without being forced to be, and one that comes from a veteran act yet still seems vital, if not downright unique. This has come to be expected from Cavalera, however. So is it just another Soulfly album, then? Not exactly. It actually might the best one yet, if only because it takes the work of the past albums one step further. For instance, the self-titled Soulfly album from 1998 was a monster in its day -- a really exciting album to hear, and a trendsetter to boot. Relative to Dark Ages, though, it seems meager. So at this point, five albums and seven years into the Soulfly canon, you have to wonder how much closer Cavalera can tread toward perfection. He's damn close here, for sure. Remember that, because after all these years of fascinating music and few miscues, it's all too easy to take Cavalera for granted.

tags: soulfly, dark ages, 2005, flac,