Soulfly - Omen
Brutal. Omen finds Soulfly going back to basics and emerging from the crypt with an untamed beast of an album which stands shoulder to shoulder with the best of the eighties thrash scene. Light the touch paper and retreat as the opening track ‘Bloodbath and Beyond’ destroys all hope of melody with a devastating expression of murderous rage the like of which we’ve not heard since the days of Discharge. With synapses snapping and the men sorted from the boys the band are free to settle into a more traditional metal formula which, at times, appears cut from the same cloth as Metallica’s criminally underrated ...and Justice for All opus; just check out the descending lead runs on ‘Lethal Injection’ for evidence of that.
If there’s a criticism to be levelled at the album it has to be that the lyrical content veers dangerously close to parody, with each track offering up a selection of pain, doom, death and decapitation like a tray of mixed hors d’oeuvres to be washed down with a river of blood. The ultimate expression of this adolescent obsession being the comedic tale of ‘Jeffrey Dahmer’ master of the gruesome. Libretto quibbles aside Omen is virtually a masterclass in death metal, rammed with telling musical homages to Anthrax, Accept and, inevitably, Slayer. Not that there’s a complete dearth of subtlety, as evidenced by the modal guitar breaks which bring an air of the souk to the otherwise crushing doom of ‘Off With Their Heads’, or the Dave Murray-like licks of ‘Vulture Culture’. That the album closes with what appears to be an homage to Andy Summers and Mark Knopfler is perverse and perplexing in the extreme, but that's why Soulfly will never be put in a box and why we still love them.
If you’ve any nostalgia for the classic era of metal then you can do worse than take heed of this potent Omen.