Soulfly Dark Ages

Considering front-man Max Cavalera’s damning inability to rekindle his Sepultural glory days, expectations are pretty damn low all around for Soulfly’s latest effort, and understandably so. Let it be said that this is absolutely, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the biggest surprise of the year. The general tone of Dark Ages could be described as the missing link between Sepultura’s masterpiece Arise and breakthrough album Chaos A.D., with a slightly more pronounced world music influence (although this element is underdeveloped compared to past Soulfly releases), and the surprising inclusion of shredding solos and leads that frankly astound in light of the simplistic, bouncy riffs of the group’s previous output. There are surprises left and right, most notably the not-too-subtle Godflesh reference in the punishing groove and vocal refrain of "Bleak.” Sure, the Neanderthal roar of Soufly’s nu-metal heyday occasionally resounds through Terry Date’s cavernously heavy mix, such as the near rap-metal delivery of "Corrosion Creeps” and Cavalera’s still irrepressibly juvenile lyrical approach. There is still no denying that this is a solid return to form, especially considering exactly how far out of leftfield this one came. Prepare to have your respect reaffirmed. (Roadrunner)