Words Dave Mullins.
For those who don’t know, Cavalera Conspiracy is death metal band pulled from the ashes of the original Sepultura line-up. Brothers Max (vox, guitar) and Igor (drums) Cavalera formed the band in 2007. This marked the end of a bitter feud that had existed between the brothers since Max split from Sepultura in 1996. Why is this important? Well the thing is, Sepultura was one of the most influential metal bands of the ’80s and ’90s. The impact of Max and Igor Cavalera on heavy music cannot be understated. Great things have always come out of great teams. Strummer and Jones, Farley and Spade, Capa and Taro… you get the idea. My point is that the re-teaming of these two is huge deal for music and the outcome has been incredible.
Pandemonium is the third album from Cavalera Conspiracy. Their previous releases Inflikted (2008) and Blunt Force Trauma (2011) were both fiercely aggressive death metal albums. Igor’s drumming combined reggae grooves with the intensity of punk and thrash, minced with the shredding guitar of Marc Rizzo and Max’s trademark raw vocals. With this release there’s a switch out for pure intensity, becoming progressively more thrash with each track.
The opening track, ‘Babylonian Pandemonium’, is pure heaviness, hauntingly deranged and undeniably brutal. This is a trend throughout the record, it’s a mission to devastate, unrelenting in its ferocity. I find that despite this the record really shines midway through with tracks like ‘Insurrection’ and ‘Not Losing the Edge’. These tracks in particular are a throwback to the glory days of Sepultura. It feels like Max has finally been able to reconcile the energy of his youth with the guttural screams he has pulled off more recently.
Something that is often not discussed when talking about Cavalera Conspiracy is that is a supergroup of sorts. The Cavalera brothers (Sepultura, Soulfly), Nate Newton (Converge) on bass and Marc Rizzo (Soulfly, Ill Nino) on guitar. Rizzo is considered to be one of the best metal guitarists in the world and has numerous solo albums under his belt. This combination of talent and experience becomes apparent when listening to the record, it’s tight, fast and engaging. Tracks ‘Father of Hate’ and ‘Cramunhao’ are great examples of what makes this band so special. There’s not a beat that feels out of place, every guitar lick is a portal to insanity.
The production of the album is atypical, the drums sit in the mix in a way that recalls 80s power-violence and thrash-core bands, yet the lead guitar rises above the mix, almost channelling industrial metal. It’s an intriguing concept that really lends itself to the genre. It’s not over-produced or polished for radio. But it isn’t trying too hard to sound like its ‘live’ or ‘right in your living room’. Not that those are inherently bad techniques, but it’s a refreshing take on a familiar style and it absolutely works in the record’s favour.
Pandemonium is as exciting as it is ferocious. I highly recommend grabbing yourself a copy.