At long last, the final Round Of 32: Soulfly's "Omen" against The Sword's "Warp Riders." Overkill and Sevendust.
The Sword made a couple of interesting choices with their third album. For one, it's sort of a sci-fi/fantasy concept album (in case the Boris Vallejo-esque cover art didn't tip you off), although the underlying story is treated as more of an oblique inspiration than a libretto. For another, the sound of the band is a step closer to Southern rock than ever before. There's still plenty of rollicking metal in the mix, though, as well as soulful yet blistering guitar leads throughout. And while the vocals are reminiscent of Mastodon's more melodic moments, the overall swagger of "Warp Riders" harkens more to the early days of hard rock and heavy metal - this album is more "2112" than "Blood Mountain." This is easily one of the most entertaining and rewarding albums of 2010.
Meanwhile, Soulfly doesn't waste any time firing back, and instead starts their seventh album with some unadulterated aggression. There are flourishes throughout the album that definitely feel like the work of guitarist/co-producer Logan Mader, but for the most part "Omen" is solidly grounded in Max Cavalera's punk/thrash/metal aesthetic. Ya know, it's always been interesting (and a little bittersweet) to listen to the ever-diverging evolutions of Soulfly and Sepultura after Max left the latter; there are moments in each band's post-diaspora albums that make me wonder What Might Have Been, had the band stayed intact. And very honestly, that's a huge part of the reason why I still listen to Soulfly. I'm waiting to hear if this impressive band will ever emerge from under Sepultura's shadow. And, with "Omen"... they don't.
Next, we start with our quarterfinals, in which everyone is already a winner... but at the end of tomorrow, we'll have one more loser. Will it be The Acacia Strain or As I Lay Dying?