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Dark Ages
Dark Ages
5th album by Soulfly
Released on UK: October 3, 2005
ROTW: October 4, 2005
Record label Roadrunner
Produced by Max Cavalera
Number of tracks Standard edition: 15
Jap./Lim. edition: 18
Special edition: 19
Duration Standard edition: 66:26
Jap./Lim. edition: 78:31
Special edition: 81:51
Genre(s) Thrash metal, groove metal, death metal
Singles 2
Alternate title(s) Babylon
Previous album
Prophecy
Next album
Conquer
Limited edition digipak cover
Anti-Dark Ages

Dark Ages is the fifth Soulfly album, released in 2005. The making of this album was inspired by the deaths of two Max Cavalera's kins — close friend Dimebag Darrell of Damageplan and infant grandson Moses. As a result, the album explores dark themes and aggression, leading Cavalera to call it "unorthodox metal."

Notable songs on this album are "Carved Inside", "Frontlines", "Arise Again", "Molotov", "Riotstarter", "Innerspirit", and "Staystrong".

Background Edit

In December 2004, writing for the fifth Soulfly album just began when two of Max Cavalera's kins died. On December 8, his close friend Dimebag Darrell was shot to death while performing live onstage for Damageplan in Columbus, Ohio by a raged fan. Two days later, his 8-month old grandson Moses died of health complications. These two tragedies lead him to write dark lyrics for their next album instead, hence the title Dark Ages.

Lineup Edit

All of the band members from the previous album Prophecy, except for David Ellefson (but he appeared on one song of this album), returned to help produce this dark-laden album. They are Marc Rizzo on lead guitar, Bobby Burns on bass guitar, Joe Nuñez on drums, and frontman Max Cavalera on lead vocals and rhythm guitar.

Production Edit

The album was recorded mainly in The Saltmine Studio Oasis in Mesa, Arizona, but it captured some recordings in four other countries — Serbia, Turkey, Russia, and France. Max chose Turkey because “Constantinople was the center of Christianity one thousand years ago and I found it to be really exotic. I wanted to add some flavor of that part of the world on an album called Dark Ages.”

Release Edit

Dark Ages was released via Roadrunner on October 4, 2005, five weeks after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, LA, thus leaving city and the people in the state of darkness. Though the album was released in UK a day earlier. The album was going to be released on September 13.

In addition to the 15-track standard release, there is also limited edition and special edition for download only.

Charts Edit

The album has the lowest peak on the US US Billboard 200 of any Soulfly album at the time and since, peaking at #155, possibly due to a lot of fans being disappointed for having different flavors of sounds. The highest peak of any country for Dark Ages is Austria, which peaked at #19 on the top 75 chart while charted for five weeks, the most of any chart. Four cities were charted for four weeks while four were charted for one week, including US. The Netherlands (Dutch) is the only chart where it spends the number of weeks other than one, four and five.

Chart Weeks Peak
Australia Top 100
1
#41
Austria Top 75
5
#19
Belgium Ultratop 200
4
#64
Dutch Top 100
2
#68
France Top 150
4
#49
Germany Top 100
4
#29
Italy Top 100
1
#91
Sweden Top 60
1
#54
Swiss Top 100
4
#44
US Billboard 200
1
#155

Title and cover art Edit

Dark Ages is the title of the fifth Soulfly album for a good reason according to Max, "I think one of the reasons it's called Dark Ages is it's also somehow personal dark ages...at the end of December [2004] when we were making the record, with losing Moses and Dimebag, it was a very dark month - it was a dark way to end the year." This is the only Soulfly album to date where the title contains more than one word, although this album can alternatively be called Babylon.

The album cover shows what appears to be a feathered knight sporting tusks riding on a wolf-like creature with antlers. The only difference between standard and limited edition covers is that the colors are opposite.

Music and lyrics Edit

Hence the album title, Dark Ages explores aggression and dark themes to mourn two deaths ten months before it was released. Cavalera praised this album by calling it "unorthodox metal." The album is criticized for containing a lot of Sepultura influences, making it heavier and thrashier than any Soulfly album before it. This album has musical elements similar to Sepultura album Arise. In addition to thrash metal, groove metal, and a little death metal, there are some tribal, acoustic, industrial metal especially on the track "Riotstarter", ambient, and new age especially on the track "Soulfly V". Echoes, captured in Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, is a common sound effect on this album, such as heard at the end of the track "Bleak".

Several songs on this album have lyrics about war and apocalypse, ushering the world into "dark ages" to go along with the title of the album. Couple of songs have lyrics about the possession of soul as well.

Songs Edit

The album opens with dark ambient intro "The Dark Ages", which continues into "Babylon", having lyrics about the apocalypse. "I and I" is a homophone of the debut album track "Eye for an Eye". "Carved Inside" has old-school thrashy tunes that is about finding a soul inside one's self. "Arise Again" features both Metallica-like riffs and Sepultura-like echoes.

"Molotov" has lyrics in Russian, Portuguese, and English. The performance of Billy Milano, one of two guests for "Molotov", was recorded over the phone by Max. "Frontlines" is a fast song that features Slayer guitarist Kerry King. "Innerspirit" blends clean and melodic vocals by guest Hornsman Coyote, who also guests on the track "Moses" of the last album Prophecy, and the roars by Cavalera.

"Corrosion Creeps", which features creepy sounds produced by pipe organs, is dedicated to the death of Chuck Schuldiner of Death. "Riotstarter" practically contains two songs in one track. The first two-and-a-half minutes of this track showcases several tribal instruments performed by three sessioners before turning the track over to The Prodigy-like riffing with David Ellefson playing the bass. "Fuel the Hate" begins with the lyric line 'Monday, July 16, 1945, 5:30am', exact time and date when the Trinity nuclear test occurred. It was around this time that the lyrical themes began to move away from the earlier spiritual themes and began incorporating more violent and aggressive elements.

Richie Cavalera, Max's son, co-sings on "Staystrong" as a tribute to youthful deaths of Moses and Dana. The outro of "Staystrong" is a recorded sound of a thunderstorm. "Soulfly V" is the 15th and last standard track of the album. It is the longest Soulfly track to date at 10:50 and contains three parts, featuring new age and acoustic melodies. This song is played by only two performers – Soulfly guitarist Marc Rizzo and session musician Stefane Goldman.

The album comes with three additional tracks on Japanese and limited editions and four additional on digital special edition. All of these editions include "Salmo-91" as the first bonus track, which has monotonous lyrics in Portuguese taken from Psalm 91. All other bonus tracks on Japanese/limited editions are live tracks from Metalmania Festival in 2004 while all others on the special edition are live tracks from 2001, including the Sepultura cover "Spit".

The song "Obliteration" was tentatively going to be included as the fifth track of this album, but Max decided to replace it with "Arise Again". The then-untitled 14th track on the tentative track list following "Soulfly V" is "Salmo-91" and was originally going to be included on the standard edition.

Durations Edit

The 15-track regular edition of the black-covered album lasts 66½ minutes. The longest track is "Soulfly V" at ten seconds shy of eleven minutes, which is also the longest Soulfly track. The shortest is the intro track "The Dark Ages" lasting four-fifths of a minute, and the next shortest is "(The) March" at about 30 seconds longer.

The Japanese and limited editions of white-covered Dark Ages lasts 78½ minutes. The special edition lasts nearly 82 minutes, which is longer than the maximum allowed duration on a CD, which is 80 minutes. Since the edition is exclusive digitally and never mastered on a disc, it can allot total duration with no maximum limit.

Tracklist Edit

  1. "The Dark Ages" (title track) (instrumental) – 0:47
  2. "Babylon" – 3:53
  3. "I and I" – 3:15
  4. "Carved Inside" (released as single) – 3:35
  5. "Arise Again" – 4:09
  6. "Molotov" (feat. Paul Fillipenko and Billy Milano) – 1:57
  7. "Frontlines" (alt. titled "Back to the Front") (released as single) (feat. Kerry King) – 4:34
  8. "Innerspirit" (feat. Hornsman Coyote) – 5:15
  9. "Corrosion Creeps" – 4:26
  10. "Riotstarter" (feat. David Ellefson) – 4:59
  11. "Bleak" – 4:56
  12. "(The) March" – 1:18
  13. "Fuel the Hate" (orig. titled "Feel the Hate") – 4:12
  14. "Staystrong" (feat. Richie Cavalera) – 8:13
  15. "Soulfly V" (instrumental) – 10:50
Japanese and limited edition digipak bonus tracks
  1. "Salmo-91" – 4:22
  2. "Prophecy" (live at Metalmania Festival 2004 in Poland) – 3:27
  3. "Seek 'n' Strike" (live at Metalmania Festival 2004 in Poland) – 4:15
Digital special edition bonus tracks
  1. "Salmo-91" – 4:22
  2. "Back to the Primitive" (live in Sweden 2001) – 4:09
  3. "No Hope = No Fear" (live in Sweden 2001) – 4:21
  4. "Spit" (Sepultura cover; live in Sweden 2001) – 2:31

Tentative tracklist Edit

The tentative tracklist as of May 17, 2005 did not include "Arise Again", "Molotov", and "(The) March", but "Obliteration" was included before it was replaced with "Arise Again" for final listing.

  1.  "The Dark Ages"
  2.  "Babylon"
  3.  "I and I"
  4.  "Carved Inside"
  5.  "Obliteration"
  6.  "Frontlines"
  7.  "Inner Spirit"
  8.  "Corrosion Creeps"
  9.  "Riot Starter"
  10.  "Bleak"
  11.  "Feel the Hate" (since re-titled "Fuel the Hate")
  12.  "Stay Strong"
  13.  "Soulfly V"
  14. (untitled) (now titled "Salmo-91")

Reviews Edit

  • Jason Birchmeier of AllMusic (4/5) – "The album has greater complexity of metal than any of the previous album, thus refreshing the band with veterans present."
  • Gal Cohen of Alternative-Zine.com – Overall, "Dark Ages is a fast, aggressive, rough album that mixes the technicality of speed metal with the anger of hardcore, and a touch of psychedelic elements."
  • Blogcritics (9/10) – "Cavalera is screaming louder and harder than ever throughout. He’s raging harder and in a higher range than he’s been in years, and it’s a welcome improvement."
  • CoolingPT of DeviantArt – "Dark Ages is fierce and unrelenting, heavy and foreboding. Yet within the darkest depths, beauty exists."
  • stainedclass2112 of Encyclopaedia Metallum (30%) – Aggressive as hell, but overly simplistic while lacking any focus or direction. The lyrics are kiddish and laughable.
  • Moritz Grütz of Metal1.info (9/10) – "This album is typical Soulfly, but always different."
  • Simon Milburn of The Metal Forge – "Cavalera shows that he still has metal running through his veins whilst still maintaining the world music influence that Soulfly have always been about."
  • The Metal Observer (8/10) – "The band has finally found its own soul (as this album just fits them so damn well) and even metal elitists can finally find themselves following Max once again. This made Max to return home to thrash metal."
  • Tom Day of musicOMH – "It documents the experiences and emotions of its members in the present and it justifies its existence as a point in the musical journey of exploration that is Soulfly."
  • Scott Adams of Rawk'n'Roll (5/5) – "This is a very robust and stable album with polished and crisp sound."
  • Rebel Extravaganza – "In the end, Soulfly pulls a dirty diamond from the coal of their past releases, and proves that beneath all the hype and recently-shorn dreads of Mr. Cavalera, still beats the heart of a metal heavyweight."
  • Schwermetall (7/13) – This album is "half empty" as it has very little variety but guitar is solid.
  • Pete Pardo of Sea of Tranquility (4/5) – "This is one impressive metal platter that shows just how far Soulfly are pulling ahead of Cavalera's old band Sepultura, who will really need to pull a rabbit out of their hat to top this gem."

Personnel Edit

Performers

Band members

Guest/session musicians

Songwriters
Audio engineers
  • John Gray – engineering, recording, digital editing, mixing on "Molotov", "(The) March" and "Salmo-91", additional mixing on "Soulfly V"
  • Milan "Bare" Barković – additional recording engineering
  • Alexkid – additional recording engineering
  • Darya Jubenko – additional recording engineering
  • John Bilberry – assistant engineering
  • Matt Marksbary – assistant engineering
  • Justin Salter – assistant engineering
  • Terry Datemixing
  • Andy Sneap – mixing on "Seek 'n' Strike (live at Metalmania Festival 2004 in Poland)"
  • June Murakawa – assistant mixing
  • Ted Jensenmastering
Supervisors
  • Max Cavaleraproduction
  • Gloria Cavalera – executive production, management
  • Christina Stojanovic – management
  • Oasis Management – management
  • Glo, The General – supervision on the front-lines
  • Monte ConnerA&R
Cover artworkers
  • Michael Whelan – illustration
  • Mr. Scott Design – art direction
  • Leo Zulueta – Soulfly logo
Booking agents
  • Justin Hirschman – booking for USA
  • WAGI – booking for USA
  • ITB Agency – booking for worldwide
  • Rod MacSween – booking for worldwide

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