If At The Drive In is the more hip and more musically challenging cousin of Rage Against the Machine, then Soulfly would be the more stripped-down, organic little brother. This Brazilian metal band, fronted by chief Max Cavalera is pissed and, while adolescent in it’s language, is much more profound in it’s message then it’s older brother of Rage or its abstract cousin in ATDI. The heart and soul of Metal as we all know is anger, rage and frustration and while no the most poetic of all lyricists in the stream of rock and roll Soulfly is perhaps the most righteous.
The sophomore effort by this power house truck driving crushing band does not make many steps further in development from the self titled debut, but Primitive does perhaps offer a glimmer of hope as well as an honest political statement that can perhaps lead the kids in a more fruitful and positive direction.
Ideas of revolution, rage and revenge run like a violent stream throughout Primitive. However, where most of the metal genre cashes in on the emotions of their young listeners, the energy here is organic and sincere. Like before much of the text of Soulfly’s songs center around the corruption and cover up of a murderous Brazilian government. Travesties in which Cavalera and his biological and musical families have been a victim of. However not all is grim. “Son Song” was co-written with hipster-doofus-famous-at-no-fault-of-his-own Sean Lennon and it pays tribute to family members lost at the mercy of a bullet. Though the over all reflection is dark, Lennon offers up the line that “Every moment is precious”. The last song on the album, “Fly High” perhaps is the most spiritual metal song created by a non-secular band and it is perhaps Caviler’s most ambitious effort to date. The chorus features a wonderfully rich choir voice bellow over a techno beat break down. The transition back into the ever important guitar crush and back again is smooth lending more to the genre then is generally allowed.
Soulfly may not be the most poetic band. They may not be the most well versed political outfit. What they do though is rock hard and well. Perhaps a little more growth and experimentation (the beautiful, native sounds of Brazil are not as prominent on this release) will allow Soulfly to take the reigns of metal into their hands and direct this genre in a more fruitful direction. They have everything for the kids, stomping beats and killer guitars laced with curse filled angry lyrics, yet Soulfly gives it from the soul, with sincerity. These aren’t college kids trying to learn the ropes, Soulfly are the grunts delivering it for real.