Soulfly return for an enjoyable, if rather tired 5th effort.
Starting up a new group after leaving such a well regarded and popular band as Sepultura is a daring choice, hoping to gain the same level of respect and popularity through doing this even more so. This is however exactly what Max Cavalera has done with Soulfly, and 'Dark Ages', the band's 5th album since forming in 1997, proves that Soulfly still have what it takes to succeed.
We all know nowadays what to expect from Max Cavalera and the unmissably brutal Soulfly; hard-hitting, no-nonsense metal with sufficiently engaging latino twist to retain the listener's interest and that is exactly what 'Dark Ages' provides from hard hitting opener 'Babylon' all the way to the intricate yet brutal sound of 'Bleak'.
However there is something not quite lacking in this album; the guitars are harsh, the beats are relentless and the mood is suitably dark yet somehow, the album feels incomplete, unconvincing. Perhaps after five albums there has simply been enough of Soulfly's (admittedly rather successful) spiritual but harsh atmosphere and sounds; perhaps it is time for something new. Whilst taken individually there is little to fault with each song on its own, as a whole the album does not stand up as well as it should.
However, my interest was quite sharply piqued again by 10-minute album closer 'Soulfly V' which unlike the other tracks on this album does not hit you with a ballista of furious metal but instead spends its entire run time building up a wall of laid-back guitar grooves and ambient sounds which although are not what one would expect from a band such as Soulfly (or at least I wouldn't). However this interesting route is conspicuous by its uniqueness and really only serves as an example of some of the more intriguing routes the band could have taken in lieu of the more straightforward way they have.
Overall 'Dark Ages' is another good release from these stars of South American metal, with "another" being exactly the defining word. If you are looking for the band to have introduced something new, perhaps even to have reinvented parts of their music, or in a simple term to have progressed, then this album will be a disappointment to you in the end. However if you are looking for more of the same brutal no-holds-barred metal that Cavalera and his cohort are known to make then 'Dark Ages' will hold plenty of charms for you.