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Ritual
Ritual album
11th album by Soulfly
Released on October 19, 2018
Record label Nuclear Blast
Produced by Josh Wilbur
Number of tracks 10
Duration 43:04
Genre(s) Groove metal, thrash metal, death metal
Previous album
Archangel

Ritual is the eleventh Soulfly album, released in 2018. The album marks the 20-year anniversary of their debut album release by partially going back to the roots with the return of tribal stuff and grooves of early Soulfly albums, while retaining some of the brutal elements present on recent albums, such as death metal and even some black metal. Ritual features Randy Blythe of Lamb of God and Ross Dolan of Immolation. The album was named after Jane's Addiction album Ritual De Lo Habitual and Max Cavalera declares 'Ritual' a "very metal name".

Notable songs on this album are the title track "Ritual", "Evil Empowered", "Dead Behind the Eyes", "Blood on the Street", and "Feedback!".

Background Edit

Lineup Edit

Like all the previous Soulfly albums, Max Cavalera is the main duty on vocals as well as rhythm guitar on this album. Lead guitarist Marc Rizzo returns for his eighth consecutive Soulfly album on lead guitar and flamenco guitar, while Max's son Zyon plays drums for his third album with his father's band. Ritual is the first Soulfly album where former Havok member Mike Leon is playing the bass. Leon replaced another Max's son Igor after a brief stint in 2015.

Production Edit

Ritual was recorded, mixed, and produced by Josh Wilbur at Hybrid Studios in Santa Ana, CA. The album was mastered by Brad Blackwood at Euphonic Masters in Memphis, TN. Max Cavalera thought Wilbur was the great helper: "Working with Josh Wilbur for Soulfly this time around has been amazing. He's a huge fan and added a lot to the record. I would fight for the fast songs and he would always push me to add more groove. I think in the end we created a really cool mix of songs that covers a lot of ground in my career. Let the Ritual begin!"

Release Edit

Ritual was released on October 19, 2018 under Nuclear Blast label. It is available in CD, limited edition two-color vinyl, and limited edition cassette.

Charts Edit

Ritual is the only Soulfly album that did not chart on US Billboard 200 chart as well as the only one not to chart on the Australian chart; however this is the only album to chart on Czech and Scotland charts. The highest peak position of any country for Ritual is Swiss Hitparade at #19, while the most weeks spent is on both of the Belgium charts at 4 weeks apiece.

Chart Weeks Peak
Austria Top 75
1
#27
Belgium Ultratop 200 (Flanders)
4
#47
Belgium Ultratop 200 (Wallonia)
4
#78
Czech Top 100
1
#58
Dutch Top 100
1
#147
France Top 150
2
#72
Germany Top 100
1
#27
Scotland Top 100
1
#51
Swiss Top 100
1
#19
UK Top 100
2
#22

Title and cover art Edit

Max Cavalera says the album title Ritual is a "very metal name". "Metal is very ritualistic in many ways, in what we do — the circle pits, the chanting, the hands up, the horns up, headbanging… It's ritual music. So I thought this is a simple name that everybody can connect to." His idea for the title came from Jane's Addiction album Ritual De Lo Habitual. He "likes to borrow things from other groups, especially when it's from different [styles] of music that's not really metal."

The cover artwork shown on top of the infobox was created by Eliran Kantor. Max Cavalera commented on the artwork, "The Ritual artwork is very mystic and captures the vibe of the album perfectly." The artwork shows Shiva wearing Soulfly logo-shaped mask shooting an arrow into the sky for a ritual pose. Next to Shiva who is standing on the rock platform is a Buddhist monster with sharp teeth resembling that of dinosaurs facing upward as if it's emerging from the ground like in the Tremors movies. On the very bottom of the art are the arms, hands, and the head of one of the two bodies clinging on to the platform. The buildings in the background built from sand blocks are ancient temples. It looks like the ground between the platform and the temples is flooded with blood.

Music and lyrics Edit

"For this one, we really tried to retain the groove of early Soulfly as well as my love for the heavy, fast stuff I'm into: like death and black metal and some hardcore." Ritual sees the return of some tribal stuff reminiscent of that of early Soulfly albums, such as the very first part of the first track. Like all other Soulfly albums, the predominant genre is groove metal. Thrash metal, death metal, and a little bit of black metal present on the previous records revisit on this one. Max proposed having three songs about the birth, three about the life, and three about the death, in order, but that idea was scrapped. The album has a variety of lyrical themes, including sacrilege, aggression, hostility and war.

Songs Edit

Ritual has ten songs, nine of which are heavy. The first track is the title track, "Ritual", which almost didn't make the album, has tribal chanting and drumming at the very beginning then the riffs resemble Max-era Sepultura and early Soulfly. "Dead Behind the Eyes" features Randy Blythe of Lamb of God and is about the Cenobites in Hellraiser. "The Summoning" was first played live on July 7, 2018, which was the first song from the then-upcoming album that anyone can hear. About a month later, the album's lead single, "Evil Empowered", was released. It has prominent lyric line 'evil in place of power'. "Under Rapture" features Ross Dolan of Immolation providing death growls to it.

"Demonized", having an acoustic beginning and black metal-tinged riffs, is a tribute to the song "Raining Blood" by Slayer. "Blood on the Street", which begins with a flute and ends with tribal chanting and drumming, is about the murder of a Navajo woman by a policeman. "Bite the Bullet" is a song taken from the idiom of the same name. "Feedback!", which tributes to late Lemmy Kilmister, strongly resembles a Motörhead song and features his son Igor on vocals. The tenth and final track "Soulfly XI" is a jazzy new-age song that features a saxophone.

Tracklist Edit

  1. "Ritual" (released as single) – 4:54
  2. "Dead Behind the Eyes" (orig. titled "Cenobites") (released as single) (feat. Randy Blythe) – 5:16
  3. "The Summoning" (alt. titled "Take My Soul") – 4:14
  4. "Evil Empowered" (alt. titled "Evil in Place of Power" and "Rise Above") (released as single) – 3:33
  5. "Under Rapture" (alt. titled "Rapture") (released as single) (feat. Ross Dolan) – 5:40
  6. "Demonized" – 4:41
  7. "Blood on the Street" – 4:31
  8. "Bite the Bullet" – 3:50
  9. "Feedback!" (feat. Igor Cavalera Jr.) – 2:59
  10. "Soulfly XI" (instrumental) – 3:23

Trivia Edit

  • It is the only the first time since the band formed that it went more than three years without a Soulfly album release.
  • Ritual is the latest calendar date of release of any Soulfly album.
  • "Demonized" would've been the first track if it wasn't for Navajo in the title track.
  • It is the only Soulfly album where only one version was released, therefore not have any bonus tracks.
  • This is the fifth post-Dark Ages album that there's the word 'blood' in one song title.
  • "Blood on the Street" is the only Soulfly song inspired from hearing on the local news.

Reviews Edit

Ritual received generally favorable reviews by critics with the aggregate score of 75% by Metacritic.

  • Andrew McKaysmith of The A List Online – "By in large, Ritual mixes the inspiration from the first two Soulfly albums with some death metal, black metal, grind and hardcore influences."
  • Gavin Griffiths of All About the Rock (6/10) – "The tribal elements such as pan-pipes and chanting are combined with various metal styles over the ten tracks here, but his vocal style is annoyingly monotonous."
  • James Christopher Monger of AllMusic (4/5) – "Steeped in the lurching, groove-laden thrash attack of the band's late-'90s/early-2000s heyday, Ritual evokes the savagery of Cavalera's tenure with Sepultura, eschewing some of the more overt world music predilections that have come to define Soulfly over the years with something leaner and more uncompromising."
  • Ryan Owenson of Bravewords.com (9/10) – "Ritual has all the hallmarks of Sepultura from Beneath the Remains to Chaos A.D., while being infused with contemporary production" and "a re-realization of the most appreciated moments of Cavalera’s sonic history."
  • Matt Coe of Dead Rhetoric (8/10) – "Ritual gets back to the early self-titled Soulfly album in terms of songwriting and performances, but also injects a bit of Max’s love for thrash, punk, and extreme metal into the mix."
  • Rich Webb of Distorted Sound Magazine (8/10) – "The songs are direct and full of impact and delivered with power and confidence and at ten tracks the album certainly does not overstay its welcome."
  • Audrey Gerrard of Hysteria Mag (8/10) – "Ritual stands out as one of the finest examples of vocalist and guitarist Max Cavalera’s approach to infusing metal with the primal spirit of diverse musical cultures."
  • Steve Jenkins of insertreviewhere (8.5/10) – "Soulfly are back in big way, still maintaining their roots but taking modern metal influences and executing them in a devastating and memorable way."
  • Mathieu of Live Reviewer (3.3/5) – "Soulfly rosts nice again, but partly because of the limited drum qualities it is just not a topper."
  • Massimo Incerti Guidotti of Loud and Proud (80/100) – "Now every new studio album by Max is a ritual. And this time the propitiatory rite has succumbed to its executor. Welcome back Soulfly. Max, it's always a pleasure ..."
  • Stefan Arthur Wolfsbrunn of metal.de (8/10) – "More tribe, more groove, more rock'n'roll. Soulfly milled on "ritual" with old virtues and new hardness through the jungle" and "lives from its rich sound, penetrating riffs and the original Soulfly groove."
  • METALHEAD WORLD – "Ritual is a masterpiece for those who fell in love with Sepultura classics like Beneath The Remains, Chaos A.D., and Roots. Max picked up where he left off 20 years ago and he still has the spirit and rage that made the classic work amazing.
  • DJVapour of Metal Noise (7.5/10) – "Ritual is an album for the here and now, a solid piece of modern metal which looks at the past through rose tinted spectacles before cranking out another riff."
  • Lydia dr. Polwin-Plass of Metalogy – "Ritual is a metallic ceremony of the highest order."
  • Vince Neilstein of MetalSucks (3.5/5) – "Between this and last year’s Cavalera Conspiracy release, Psychosis, Max is on a roll right now. Here’s hoping his winning streak continues."
  • Carl O'Rourke of Metal Wani (9/10) – "Ritual honours the band's roots and core sound, bringing them into this new chapter, this exciting era, this rebirth of Soulfly."
  • Music Waves (4/5) – "Ritual confirms the beautiful artistic form of Soulfly which found the perfect musical formula."
  • Wojtek Tomczyk of Overdrive Music Magazine – "Drawing back to their roots while also developing their sound to new strengths, Soulfly have come out with what is possibly their greatest, most diverse album to date. After blowing through and touching on many different aspects in metal, this album brings Soulfly back into the game as one of the best in the business."
  • Break OS of RTMB (7.5/10) – "The network of restless riffs are the result of a consistent work of composition that refuses to let itself be overcome by the passage of time."
  • Max Heilman of RIFF Magazine – "Ritual more than contends with modern metal, because it came from the mind of a co-author of the modern metal handbook."
  • Pepe Cortez of Rock and Blog (9/10) – "Here is the hope that his winning streak will continue. He seems to be experiencing a late resurgence in his career, and Ritual only continues that upward trajectory."
  • Andrew Massie of The Rockpit – "Ritual sees Soulfly come full circle with a sound that quite frankly finds the right balance between early Soulfly and the more thrashier and aggressive sounding aspect of the later Soulfly.
  • phil of Sonic Abuse (8/10) – "Drawing upon numerous influences including Sepultura’s break-through albums, Motörhead and Soulfly’s own illustrious back catalogue, Ritual is like a condensed best of Max Cavalera, with memorable riffs, savage vocals and deftly interwoven ethnic elements all making an appearance."
  • Robert Garland of Sputnikmusic (4/5) – "Forever a Ritual. Soulfly stay the course."
  • Matt Mart of Uncivil Revolt (10/10) – "Max was able to go back to his roots of heavy metal while still pushing boundaries of what his group is capable of. Whether it is death metal, old school thrash, soul-crashing black metal, or infectious groove metal, Soulfly have outdid themselves with this record."
  • Plugga73 of Wall of Sound (9/10) – "May all future Soulfly albums contain Josh Wilbur in its production."

Interviews with Max Cavalera Edit

Personnel Edit

Performers

Guest/session musicians

Songwriter

Audio engineers

Supervisors

  • Josh Wilburproduction
  • Gloria Cavalera – management
  • Bryan Roberts – assistant management
  • Christina Stojanovic – assistant management
  • Bryan K. Christner – legal representation
  • Monte ConnerA&R

Cover artworkers

  • Eliran Kantor – cover illustration
  • Marcelo Vasco – graphic art, design
  • Glen La Ferman – photography

Booking agents

  • Dan Rozenblum – booking
  • Rod MacSween – booking
  • Steve Zapp – booking

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