On Soulfly (Roadrunner, 1998) and Primitive (Roadrunner, 2000) the former Sepultura frontman, Max Cavalera, played at assimilating elements of reggae, dub, drum'n'bass and hip hop. These albums sound more experimental than anything Sepultura ever dreamed of. The latter may be the leader's artistic peak, even if too many guests (and not all of them Beethovens) risk disrupting a vision that otherwise flows brutal and precise. The tribal and grinding Back To The Primitive opens the album like a cerimonial invocation. With In Memory Of, Bring It and Boom, Cavalera injects the superhuman frenzy and power of death-metal into rap (a dub coda, an exotic guitar solo). Mulambo and Terrorist perform a similar operation with voodoo music. Fly High (possibly the most powerful track) flirts with soul. And the raga/Caribbean/jazz/classical instrumental Soulfly II is as subtle and sophisticated as the best of progressive-rock. Even the usual detonations of Jump and Pain are derailed by detours, noises and breaks.
On III (Roadrunner, 2002) the party is already over, as Cavalera is taking his project too seriously and fails to expand on the musical intuitions of the first two albums. Downstroy is already formulaic. Seek 'N' Strike is shameless bait for maintream radio. One exhudes Sting-like (i.e., yawn-inspiring) spiritualism. The tribute to Brasil, the ode to the victims of September 11 Call To Arms, the pathetic melodrama of the eight-minute Tree Of Pain are mostly unbearable. Even the ethnic instrumental, Soulfly III, is sub-standard.
The project ran out of ideas on Prophecy (Roadrunner, 2004), an album that tries to be eclectic by flirting briefly with all sorts of styles but falls flat on the incompetence of the players and the goofiness of the material.
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Easy Guitar Tabs Soulfly