Ever sit back and look at your record collection of a favorite artist and consider which albums are the best? So do we! Rank & File is our way of telling you which albums are great and which ones are garbage (at least in our opinion). There are really no correct answers here, it’s all just a matter of taste, but inevitably, there will be parts of the list that you will completely disagree with, so make sure to let us know how you would rank the albums. Of course, when compiling a ranking system such as this, there have to be some guidelines in place. For Rank & File, they are:
- No E.P.’s (with rare exception)
- No Singles
- No live albums
- No remix albums
- If an artists discography is huge (i.e. Rolling Stones, Prince) only the top 5 will make the cut.
After leaving Sepultura in late 1996, Max Cavalera went on to form his new band Soulfly. At the time, Soulfly came across more like a side project instead of a full-fledged band, however, as time went on, Soulfly managed to step out of the shadows of Max’s former project and blossomed into one of the more potent and relentless metal bands of the last 15 years. Thanks to an ever-evolving supporting cast (including guest musicians, tribal/world music inflections and constant stream of new material, Soulfly have been tearing shit up for years and they show no signs of slowing down. To celebrate their 9th studio album Savages, we’re taking a look back at our favorite Soulfly albums and songs.
5. Enslaved (2012):
Enslaved is easily the heaviest record that Soulfly has released to date. The songs on Enslaved are the closest to thrash/death metal that Max has written since he left Sepultura, but it isn’t merely a throwback record. Thanks to a couple of fantastic guest vocal spots provided by Travis Ryan of Cattle Decapitation and Dez Fafara, Enslaved manages to give a nod to the past while staying firmly entrenched in the present. The album is also the first Soulfly record to feature Tony Campos (Static-X, Ministry, Asesino) on bass and vocals and the only album to feature David Kinkade on drums. Enslaved may not be the most diverse album that Soulfly has released, but if you’re looking for an album that’ll pummel your ears, this is the one to get!
4. Soulfly (1998):
Back when this record was released, I was still trying to learn my way around heavy music. I was familiar with Sepultura, mostly their albums Chaos A.D. and Roots, so I wasn’t completely in the dark when it came to Max Cavalera, but nonetheless, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from Soulfly. Somehow, with this album, Max managed to bridge the gap between “nu-metal” and the more traditional styles of heavy music, the end result being a sort of hybrid metal that very few artists would be able to pull off. Also, the emotion Max displays in his vocals throughout Soulfly are gut-wrenching to say the least. Coming off leaving Sepultura and the death of his son Dana, Max had plenty of demons to get out and Soulfly is the sound of pain and grief being excised through music. And while that may not sound like fun to listen to, it is a strangely therapeutic record.
3. Omen (2010):
Omen could’ve easily taken the top spot in the ranking if the entire album was as solid as the first half. Tracks like “Bloodbath & Beyond” and “Great Depression” see the band develop a more hardcore/punk influenced sound, which they flirted with occasionally on other records, but never as strongly as they did on Omen. The record also features two of the best guest vocal tracks in Soulfly’s history with Greg Puciato (Dillinger Escape Plan) on “Rise of the Fallen” and Tommy Victor (Prong/Ministry) with “Lethal Injection”. Unfortunately, the album begins to loose a little steam about halfway through, but thanks to the amazing first half, Omen locks down the third spot in our ranking.
2. Primitive (2000):
After the emotional outpouring and hybrid metal featured on their debut, it was difficult to imagine Soulfly outdoing themselves, but they did just that with Primitive. Featuring a myriad of guest musicians, Primitive further diversified the Soulfly sound and really set the table for what was to come. Different musical styles were blended throughout, everything from thrash metal (“Bring It”) to heavy indie rock (“Son Song” feat. Sean Lennon) to hip-hop (“In Memory Of…”), ensuring that Primitive did indeed have something for everyone. Primitive also included guest spots from many established musicians, including Tom Araya (Slayer), Chino (Deftones) and the aforementioned Sean Lennon, but the guest spot that really stood out was a verse in the song “Pain” sung by Grady Avenell of Sacramento band Will Haven. That song introduced me to Will Haven, a group that I’ve really come to love over the years (their last record Voir Dire was fantastic) and without Primitive, I would’ve likely never heard of them.
1. Dark Ages (2005):
I kind of stepped away from metal music for awhile around the time this album came out, so as a result, I probably didn’t check this record out until about 2007 or so, but am I glad I came back to Soulfly. This album is fucking amazing on almost every level. It’s like the perfect mix of everything that came before it, and really, everything that has come since. This is the second Soulfly album that features guitarist Marc Rizzo and in my opinion, Rizzo’s best work with the band. His killer leads really shine throughout the entire record and he comes across as the missing link from the old thrash metal guitarists of yesterday. A real talent. This record is fucking dark, but it also has a very uplifting quality to it, giving it a disposition that many records (let alone metal records) can’t live up to. Dark Ages might not be the most well known Soulfly album, but it’s by far their best.
Just Missed The Cut: 3 (2002), Prophecy (2004), Conquer (2008)
What do you think? How would you rate Soulfly’s albums? Let us know in the comment section below and make sure to follow Gutter Bubbles on Facebook and Twitter!