Music News & Reviews

High volume Soulfly brings 'blood-splatteringly brutal' songs to Busters

Soulfly is Tony Campos, left, frontman Max Cavalera, David Kinkade and Marc Rizzo.
Soulfly is Tony Campos, left, frontman Max Cavalera, David Kinkade and Marc Rizzo.


8 p.m. April 21 at Buster's Billiards and Backroom, 899 Manchester St. $18 advance, $22 day of show. (859) 368-8871.

If you hear a distant but electric roar emanating from the Distillery District on Saturday night, don't be alarmed. It's just Soulfly kicking up a fuss at Buster's.

For the better part of a nearly 15-year career, Soulfly has fostered a pulverizing sound that matches, in terms of volume and intensity, the majority of its major league metal music contemporaries. But then, the band had all the deafening guitar severity it needed on board before it even formed.

At the helm remains Brazilian-born vocalist/guitarist Max Cavalera, who began Soulfly after nearly a decade of hard-rock duty with Sepultura. Aside from being just as high-volume as the previous band, Soulfly has proven a more narrative-heavy and thematically involved enterprise. Its 1998 self-titled, gold-selling debut album revealed a spiritual inclination, and subsequent (and more earthbound) albums grew darker, with more topical imagery. Curiously, according to the band's bio material, the themes of slavery that make up the most recent Soulfly album, Enslaved, were first considered for a Sepultura album.

Of course, you can peruse the story lines all you want. But when Cavalera's mighty vocal moan revs up alongside the rest of Soulfly (rounded out on Enslaved by co-guitarist Marc Rizzo, bassist Tony Campos and drummer David Kinkade), any sense of nuance disappears.

Perhaps fittingly, the band's label, Roadrunner Records (home to Nickelback and, more recently, Rush) uses terms like "wheezy whammy squeals" to describe the ingredients to Soulfly's "blood-splatteringly brutal" songs. Guess that rules out any chance of a Bon Jovi medley at Saturday's show.

Iris Dement returns

It seems like forever since we last heard from Iris DeMent, the songstress who gained a solid Americana following with songs bred out of folk, gospel and pre-bluegrass country inspiration, and a singing voice both plaintive and powerful.

Truth to tell, a lot of folks have lost touch with DeMent. She released a series of outstanding albums during the 1990s that began with Infamous Angel (which included one of the great rural anthems of the day, Our Town) and concluded with the unexpectedly political The Way I Should. She hasn't released a new recording since 2004's Lifeline, which featured predominantly non-original gospel songs. One of its highlights, the 19th-century spiritual Leaning on the Everlasting Arms, was featured in the Coen Brothers' 2011 remake of True Grit.

Friday night, DeMent will get reacquainted with Lexington with a solo performance at the First Presbyterian Church, 174 North Mill St. The 8:15 p.m. performance is free, but tickets are required. They are available at the Downtown Arts Center box office or at the church. The concert is part of First Presbyterian's Music for Mission series, so donations will be accepted for Habitat for Humanity.

For more information, call (859) 252-1919 or go to

Manning the method

Calling Mark O'Connor a mere fiddler seems a gross over-simplification. Bred on fiddle contests and bluegrass, he became one of Nashville's most prolific studio musicians in the '80s and '90s before devoting his full attention to a solo career that touched on fusion, new grass acoustic music, gypsy-style swing and more.

For more than a decade, O'Connor has placed himself at the vanguard of contemporary classical composers who draw on Americana music as a primary inspiration. Such sounds also fuel an entire instructional violin method, which he will showcase at Monday's taping of the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour, with help from pianist Melissa Tong and Lexington students from the Carwile String Studio (7 p.m., $15). Call (859) 252-8888 for reservations.

O'Connor will bring us up to speed on his "incredibly busy year" in Sunday's Life and Arts section.