HardReviews 2
by Martin Popoff

BLACK RIVER
Black 'n' Roll (Armoury/Eagle Rock)

Consider this a Polish version of Chrome Division, in other words, a minor supergroup of black and death metal guys pounding the wodka and going all biker rock like Down mixed with Motorhead, Monster Magnet, Turbonegro and some Hellyeah! tones to keep it fresh (oddly, these guys also fly the bull horns). And it definitely works, because the production is both looming and gritty, the power bubbling up from the stun bass of Orion, the package further successful through the leonine roar of vocalist Taff who weirdly reminds me of The Four Horsemen's Frank C. Starr in expression, power and presence. Ass-kicking and swiftly headbanged pretty much all the time, which is more than can be said for the above comparatives.
Rating 8

SOULFLY
Omen (Roadrunner)

While you were out, Max Cavalera and crew have been quietly following Entombed, Fear Factory, Machine Head and Dez back from the nu-metal fringes into thrash madness. Max's particular forte however is the volcanic chug, at any speed, Soulfly able to throw their percussive and production acumen into a whiplash of a headbang that is the root definition of heaviness (see 'Rise Of The Fallen'). So there's less native percussion here or chilling of any sort, as well as more lead guitar work, as well as ripping post-Maiden riffery like 'Kingdom', proving that Soulfly still has lots of gas left in the tank. 'Off With Their Heads' is an undeniable highlight of the band's sorta quarter-chicken nod to hardcore/metalcore (opener 'Bloodbath & Beyond' is crap, full punk, as is 'Vulture Culture', excepting a blistering break), this one also chugging smoke-choked as well as addressing the Slayer-esque. Max throws some higher vocal shapes I'm not crazy about (also, Tommy Victor and Greg Puciato guest), but this is a minor distraction on a harrowing, violent album that captures that weird hard-to-turn-around linear forward mass of Arise's and Chaos A.D.'s catchier, more anthemic tracks.
Rating 8

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