Soulfly’s Dark Ages caused the band’s popularity and recognition to soar. Yes, they were already huge before that because…well…they were fronted by the former Sepultura vocalist and songwriting mastermind, Max Cavalera. But before Dark Ages, every single one of Soulfly’s albums sounded completely different from each other; making them one of the most experimental metal bands of the time. But I personally think that Soulfly’s signature sound that everyone knows today was solidified and bolted to the ground with Dark Ages. Not only that, Soulfly went from playing in almost completely packed smallish venues to playing in the venues that MUCH bigger mainstream artists play at. When I saw them in 2008, they played at the same venue that I saw other huge bands like Sonata Arctica, Arch Enemy, Bring me the Horizon, Dimmu Borgir (which was a sold-out show), and Underoath (which was also sold-out). But not only does Dark Ages represent the solidification of Soulfly’s signature sound, but it’s also an amazing record that I’ve been listening to for almost five years.
The general theme of this album seems to follow a WWII concept. The part of the album that always reminds me of WWII (obviously) is the beginning of Fuel the Hate where someone states the exact date and time that the first atomic bomb was used as a weapon in warfare. The main sound that this album gives off is a really thick, slow (at times), and dark thrash metal sound which has caused a lot of people to say thrash death. Honestly, I’ve put almost all of their albums as progressive metal because of all the experimentation they do in numerous songs on every album.
Here’s a little fact that most people who don’t know much about Soulfly probably haven’t noticed. Look at Max Cavalera’s guitar (not the ones they sell in guitar stores, the ones he actually PLAYS) and notice how many strings are on it. I find it really interesting that a guitarist of that level of skill and creativity would have only four strings on his guitar. Although he takes out a regular six string guitar when they play their series of softer self-titled songs, Max doesn’t do lead guitar on anything else that Soulfly plays. I don’t know if he has a legitimate reason for this or if it’s just that he wants a MUCH deeper sound (which is heard VERY clearly in this album). This is probably the album that has some of the fewest soloing and lead guitar licks than any other album. I think it’s because of that why Dark Ages sounds like Soulfly’s heaviest and DARKEST album (which makes the name more than appropriate).
The lyrics of this album are interesting. Normally I don’t give a crap about what the songs are about but I can’t help but think in this case “what the hell was Max so pissed off about??” If I was asked what the ULTIMATE venting album is, I would say Dark Ages. Probably being one of the most hate-filled records of all-time, both in lyrics AND in the music. I think that the hate and anger reaches its peak during my favorite song off the album, simply titled “Bleak”, with the line that speaks out to me the most being “it’s the end you fucking scum!!”. Not only are the lyrics hate-filled, they’re also fucked up!
Dark Ages is one of the darkest and angriest albums ever made. Not only did this solidify Soulfly’s signature sound that everyone knows today, it also caused Soulfly’s (already) massive fame to EXPLODE. Although my favorite Soulfly albums remain Conquer and Omen, Dark Ages is one of those “cannot be missed” records. I would give this 18/20.