Big Al's Metal Review

Watching the daily news, one might think that we have descended into an inescapable spiral of chaos and destruction. What were once firm boundaries have now been washed away. Open-mouthed in horror, we can only stand by as violent images sear our retinas. Tsunamis and hurricanes show the capacity of humans to suffer in their aftermath, sometimes turning on each other in desperation and malice.

Increasingly militarized and polarized, our society trudges forward toward an ever more uncertain future. Our innocence erodes, and we look to artists to reflect this pain and soothe our spirit.
Music can distract us from our darkening society; this is the sole reason for pop music. Or music can confront it, possibly giving us the catharsis we
need to go on with our day. This, in my mind, is the sole reason for metal?s continued existence. Confusion continues a long way beyond adolescence, at least for me. Albums like Dark Ages, Soulfly?s soon-to-be-released masterpiece, reveal this pain and confusion. But is there any resolution?

?Babylon,? the album?s second track, is an apocalyptic vision of our world. As we return to the time of warring tribes, the struggle for our soul starts from within. ?Carved Inside? seems to reflect some of the personal pain that Max Cavalera (vox, guitar) has gone through. Personal loss has punctuated this last year for Max, and ?Carved Inside? reflects his turmoil. Still, there is the determination in his words that makes one feel that he is looking to understand and take control of his life.

?Arise Again,? ?The March,? ?Frontlines,? and much of the rest of the album stand out in their stripped-down construction. While Max has been one of the most exploratory metal musicians in history, Dark Ages is a ferocious album, more straight-up thrash. Maybe even borrowing from his old band Sepultura. References like ?Arise? pop up in the song structure every now and again, and are a reminder of Max?s ?roots.? There are tribal interludes, flamenco guitar and sounds from the city framed by silence. But they take a backseat to the vision of this album, which is bleaker than one may have expected. Sirens wail, helicopters roar and explosions surround you. All frame an album that is at war with our society and its direction. The question remains: Who will win out in the end?

?Til next time,

Albert Cohen
Senior Staff