Soulfly(Roadrunner - 1998)
After a surprising and very nasty, personal breakup with Sepultura, Max Cavalera went off on his own to form Soulfly and continue his musical vision on his own. This debut continues the direction of Sepultura's Roots only with a tad more tightness in the composition, probably because Max is holding the reigns on his own. This didn't help much though, mostly because of the unfocused use of every musical style Max could get his hands on again. This includes hardcore punk, both bouncy and chunky nu-metal, Brazilian percussion and tribal/local sounds, various samples, and slight touches of industrial, rock 'n' roll, Middle Eastern noodling, hip-hop, rapcore and whatnot. Also there's the problem that when you take away all the experimental elements, the 'metal' sounds just like another boring Korn/Deftones clone. But to be honest, there is much original experimentation here, and this together with Max's growls/barks makes Soulfly stand on its own. This can't save the mess however. The album starts off well with a raging, enjoyable, thick sound but quickly goes downhill into a tiring mess of musical elements and long line of MTV guest performers. If you're going to be eclectic then at least mesh it all together into coherent music, but this album seems to just jump from sound to sound without a care for composition and development. Changing the percussion or rhythm or switching to another sound as a compositional dynamic can only hold your interest for about 2 songs. And often the extreme difference between sections is just too jarring or dislocating. More is less, especially when dealing with gimmicks. Those who liked Roots will probably like this one even more, but the rest of us should stay away from this annoying noise. Who would have thought that Max would lose his biggest talent: flowing composition.
Primitive(Roadrunner - 2000)
Remove some of the more loose experimentation of recent Soulfly/Sepultura and what are you left with? Another boring nu-metal band. Sorry Max but you just can't win anymore. It's either too unfocused, or too boring and unoriginal. It's time to do something new. 'Primitive' features another long line of popular guest performers, the most noticeable being Araya from Slayer, some R&B female singer and Sean Lennon. Yes, Lennon. Imagine thick crunchy guitars and bass, Max's throaty yelling and Beatles-esque soft harmonic vocals. OK, don't. I'd rather put it behind me as soon as possible in any case. The rest of the album consists of mostly crunchy, angry, and bouncy nu-metal mixed with the usual, by now old 'experiments' with Brazilian percussion, vocals and instruments. The one good thing about this release however is that the composition is much tighter and doesn't get lost as often, and Max sounds like he is more familiar with his tools. It's also consistently heavy for the most part. But the same repetitive, fat, chunky riffs and shouting simply gets boring very fast and the gratuitous 749 uses of the word 'fuck' only adds to the annoyance. Some of the songs are enjoyable, but when many of the sections in this album are interchangeable, that's not a good sign. Add to that the horrible Lennon on 'Son Song', the wretched rap on 'In Memory Of' and the R&B spew-inducing vocals on 'Flyhigh'. These last three remind me of those horrible hybrid animal experiments or when Brendel was fused together with the telepod machine in 'The Fly'. So all in all, this album crunches and swears and yells for an hour and is forgotten as soon as it's over. Well, except for the near-traumatic aforementioned tracks that is.