After nearly two decades of making progressively experimental and powerful heavy metal, singer/songwriter Max Cavalera finds himself at a bizarre point in his career on III. Where almost every album he has released unveiled a new and exciting direction for Cavalera's unique artistic voice, III is one of the first to not really have any place to go. Cavalera is left trying to continue making new music without a specific direction to move into, so he tries a little bit of everything, from the keyboard-laced instrumental "Soulfly III" to the percussion showcase "Zumbi." But little of it sticks, instead sounding like a retread of previous ideas, with his increasingly simplistic lyrics becoming a burden to the music. What does work is simply awesome, which also helps frustrate the listener further. A five-track stretch in the middle is spellbinding in its creativity and power, putting everything before and after it on the album to shame, and essentially bringing this from being a poor album into a passable release. Starting with the incredible "Brasil," Cavalera angrily shouts in his native Brazilian while the chugging bass of Marcello D. Rapp and the thick percussion of Roy Mayorga and Meia Noite drive the song into the stratosphere. The epic "Tree of Pain" is the album's centerpiece, an eight-minute slab of metal that features gorgeous female vocals, a haunting acoustic opening, and tortured screaming from Cavalera. This song is a perfect way to wrap up the personal epics that he has been writing since the untimely death of his step-son, and stands as possibly his angriest and most intimate attempt yet. The next three tracks work together as one statement, as the cover of Sacred Reich's "One Nation" offers criticism of America's treatment of foreign countries, followed by a minute of silence in tribute to the tragedy of September 11, 2001, then continues with a blinding war anthem that simply drips with hate ("Call to Arms"). These five songs are so great that they will probably make the album worthwhile to dedicated Soulfly fans, but this is still quite a disjointed release when viewed as a whole. This is the sound of a brilliant musician trying to find his place in a metal scene that he has jumped so far ahead of that he's spinning his tires trying to get back with the pack. The songs that are good are definitely worth hearing, but one can only wish it came with better accompanying tracks.
AllMusic Review by Bradley Torreano