SOULFLY – Conquer

If Dark Ages was Max Cavalera’s return to true extreme metal/punk, then Conquer is a definitive statement that nü-SOULFLY won’t be around any time soon. Conquer just might be SOULFLY’s heaviest album to date. While much of Conquer conjures up sounds and feelings of old SEPULTURA, there are plenty of (subtle) sounds and styles that we’ve never heard from Max Cavalera before. The war anthem of “Blood Fire War Hate” sets the brutal tone of the album. MORBID ANGEL’s David Vincent lays down some of his great vocals and really helps the song to reach a new level. “Warmageddon” has a great sludgy, doomy MORBID ANGEL-like intro before launching into an urgent, charging tempo that recalls Beneath the Remains and Arise. The song only gets faster and more intense and easily scorches most of today’s popular metal bands in a matter of minutes. “Enemy Ghost” sees Max bringing back the theme and mantra of rising up as evidenced by his lyrics, “Rise above and rise within.” The next song, “Rough,” is a bruiser with prime hardcore riffs that any contemporary hardcore band would sell their souls for. At this point in Conquer, you might wonder whether the intensity will take a break but the band are out to destroy and the grinding main riff of “Fall of the Sycophants” is unrelenting. The middle section of the song is also highly reminiscent of latter era DEATH complete with Chuck Schuldiner-style guitar solos. SOULFLY busts out a cool dub jam to end “Doom.” “For Those About to Rot” burns out with a cascading doom riff before turning into a meditative Middle Eastern/Indian-style interlude. “Touching the Void” is undoubtedly an homage to BLACK SABBATH with its sludgy riffs and song title (i.e. SABBATH’s “Into the Void”) that could’ve come from Master of Reality. The comparatively mellow instrumental, “Soulfly IV,” may be the best instrumental in the band’s collection thus far. It’s very impressive to hear the high quality and power of Conquer considering the fact that Max also wrote the CAVALERA CONSPIRACY album at adjacent periods of time. The rest of the band are in peak form with top-notch performances. And despite what all the magazines may say or omit to say, lead guitarist Marc Rizzo is a true guitar hero and easily negates most of the media’s most touted guitar stars. Conquer effortlessly and unquestionably communicates its message through urgent, heart pounding relevant music. (Roadrunner Records)