December 15, 2010
House of Blues - Dallas
Dallas, TX USA
Review by Mike DiQuinzio
Photos by Mike DiQuinzio
Two years ago, Soulfly played to a near-capacity crowd at the Granada Theater in support of their 2008 release, "Conquer", an album that triumphantly marked a brutal four-in-a-row victory for Max Cavalera's post-Sepultura output, to say nothing of the brilliant Cavalera Conspiracy album that was released a mere few months prior. The show was a non-stop adrenaline rush with a set list that highlighted every era in the Soulfly/ Sepultura timeline that assured everyone would leave happy, and the energy level was kept at such a height that people were literally crawling over each other to get nearer to the stage and Max himself. It was easily one of the best Soulfly shows- or Max Cavalera shows in general, for that matter- ever. Period.
Fast forward two years and it seems a lot has changed. Soulfly's newest release, "Omen", while far from being a disappointment, lacks that certain little something that made its predecessors so essential to the catalogue; a point that is apparently not lost on the fans, judging by the less-than-half-capacity audience at the House of Blues on December 15th for their most recent visit to Dallas.
Opening strongly with the crowd-pleasing shout-along of "Blood Fire War Hate", "Prophesy", and "Back to the Primitive", the momentum was set extremely high, with Max commanding everyone to jump along to the brutal rhythm. A slew of more bounce-worthy favorites followed, including "Seek N' Strike", "Babylon", and "Frontlines", but sometimes the power of the music was too much for the sound system. The result was a muddy mix, as on "L.O.T.M", which was indecipherable until the chorus.
Aside from the older favorites, the three selections from new album "Omen" got their own excited response. "Kingdom" and the punk-influenced album-opener "Bloodbath & Beyond" got the pit swirling as much as the better-known songs while "Rise of the Fallen", sans guest vocalist Greg Puciato from the recording, seemed to widen it. The band also took advantage of being in Dimebag Dallas for the evening by being the 9,999th band to play the obligatory exerpt of "Walk" by you-know-who.
Max has done an excellent job of separating the past from the present, and while Soulfly has been making music for over ten years now, it is unsurprising that the selections from the Sepultura catalogue got the most enthusiastic reactions. Starting early in the set with "Refuse/ Resist" and reaching far back into the past for "Troops of Doom" and "Inner Self", the songs seemed to re-energize everyone in the pit just as the energy level began to wane a bit. However, unlike the Granada set, the obvious omission of anything from the Arise album left the set feeling incomplete at the show's end.
Regarded as the creative peak of Sepultura, the encore of "Roots Bloody Roots" and Soulfly's personal revenge anthem "Eye for an Eye" milked every last drop of violent energy out of the crowd, but it appeared that Max's reserve had dried up much earlier. He seemed unable to conjure the energy to jump along with the crowd, instead looking like he was about to fall over from exhaustion. This is the main difference between this show and the Granada show two years earlier: Max's inability to match his energy level with that of his audience. While this didn't make a negative impact on the show itself, it came across as laughable and a bit distracting.
The rest of the band, however, deserves attention for their inhuman speed and precision throughout the set; in particular, drummer Joe Nunez and guitarist Marc Rizzo, who is the unsung hero of Soulfly and the most underrated player in metal today. His solos were amazingly precise as he jumped and thrashed around the stage, while his tone complemented the band's simple brutality with clean complexity. His reproduction of Andreas Kisser's solos were perfect, with flourishes of his own style making them sound fresh and familiar at the same time.
Overall, even though this show might not have completely measured up to their last Dallas show, it was no disappointment. Soulfly always delivers the goods live and Max Cavalera is quite possibly the most metal guy out there today, having fronted four different bands over the last twenty years that all stand independent of each other. I personally hope, though, that the next time he passes through here it's with his brother Iggor and Cavalera Conspiracy.