Album Review: Soulfly – Totem (Nuclear Blast Records)

Soulfly are back! The legendary band fronted by the iconic Max Cavalera return on August 5th, 2022 with their new album and 12th overall, Totem. Out via Nuclear Blast.

There’s certainly a sense that we know exactly what we’re going to get with Soulfly and you either love it or loathe it. Nobody is expecting game-changing tunes from this band but over the last few decades, Soulfly have been proving that the thing they have in spates is consistency. Simply put, there are no bad Soulfly albums and that is a mega-achievement when you consider this latest is their 12th studio release.

It’s also consistent with the Soulfly output of the last couple of years, as it’s the band spitting fire and delivering a heavy, fast and frenetic listen.

It’s how the album starts, with the non-stop hammering that comes from Superstition. Soulfly going all out to smash heads and crack necks with this opener but also sticking in some interesting elements like distorted effects. There’s no such messing around with the following Scouring the Vile though, as Soulfly and Obituary vocalist John Tardy combine talents to deliver a beastly death metal blast of head-banging and circle pitting noise.

While you don’t expect variety when it comes to Soulfly, that does them a disservice, as the group do move through the heavy genres at times. Filth Upon Filth is further proof of that as it’s a little blacker, a little thrashier and features a killer guitar solo. Before Rot in Pain comes along to absolutely wreck things. Soulfly at their most intense, calling back to the very early days of Sepultura.

There’s a tempo switch for Damage Down, doomy riffing and echoing vocals, followed then by an old-school sounding Soulfly number in the form of the title track. Where a classic head-banger of a chorus is thrown out to please the masses. This pairing, the middle of the album, is a tad more experimental than most will be used too from Soulfly. Although, it’s not so wild that they’re not completely recognisable either.

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A ’to the point’ and tight thrash number with some melody, Ancestors continues the ass-kicking that this album provides. Before the riff-heavy groove-monster that is Ecstasy of Gold comes along and the traditional self-titled track (now up to Soulfly XII) is reached. Although, here, be prepared for something really unexpected. Something melodic, gothic and heavy on the synths. It’s a genuine shock moment as there’s never quite been anything like this from Soulfly.

It also serves as a ‘breather’ moment, as the finale of Spirit Animal is over nine-minutes long and sees Soulfly running the heavy gambit. Eerie effects, aggressive riffing, pounding percussion, Max and his son Richie (Incite) sounding near-feral, and a guest solo from Chris Ulsh (Mammoth Grinder, Power Trip)… it’s a massive closing track.

…and there we have it! Soulfly’s 12th album and another great release from this band. Proving that they still have the passion and ability to deliver.

Soulfly – Totem Full Track Listing:

1. Superstition
2. Scouring The Vile
3. Filth Upon Filth
4. Rot In Pain
5. The Damage Done
6. Totem
7. Ancestors
8. Ecstasy of Gold
9. Soulfly XII
10. Spirit Animal


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Soulfly – Totem (Nuclear Blast Records)
  • The Final Score - 8.5/10
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