Cavalera Conspiracy – ‘Pandemonium’ Album Review

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Of recent years one of the most heart-warming collaborations has surely been Cavalera Conspiracy. Estranged by the catastrophic split between the members of Sepultura that took place post-‘Roots’ all the way back in 1996, it seemed impossible that the two brothers would ever record together again. Igor’s departure from Sepultura, however, opened up the possibility of a reunion, but no-one could have predicted that the reunion would have been as earth-shattering as the stunning ‘Inflikted’, a brutal, no-holds-barred record designed to simply pummel the listener into submission with its furious percussive assault and inventive guitar work. Despite the fact that Soulfly had been releasing increasingly innovative and exciting albums prior to the formation of Cavalera Conspiracy, it was the reuniting of the brothers that lit an almighty spark under Max and Igor and the result was nothing short of spectacular. Returning in 2010 with ‘Blunt Force Trauma’ it was clear that Cavalera Conspiracy was more than just a one-off celebration of familial reunion with track’s like ‘killing inside’ and the title track proving that the band had inspiration and enthusiasm in abundance.

With the band’s ascendency seemingly unstoppable despite their departure from metal institution Roadrunner Records, the rumour mill went into overdrive when, in 2013, Max hinted that the band would be going in a grindcore direction. Further rumours suggested that the album would largely be played by Max and Igor, only for the band to decamp to the studio with long-time guitarist (and Soulfly mainstay) Marc Rizzo and new boy Nate Newton (Converge) in tow ready to record the band’s third full-length (and first for new label Napalm Records) album. Produced by John Gray, ‘Pandemomnium’ is everything you could want from a Cavalera Conspiracy album. Heavy as hell informed by a potent groove and Rizzo’s typically excellent guitar work, ‘Pandemonium’ is another solid entry into the band’s increasingly impressive catalogue.

With its spacy intro, it takes but a moment for the fire and the fury to rain down in equal measure on opening track ‘Babylonian pandemonium’. A typically day-glo slab of furious, tribally-influenced mayhem, ‘Babylonian pandemonium’ sees Max building up rich layers of vocals, turning his trademark roar into a textured, weighty beast that easily competes with the rampant, almost punk-infused guitars and the result is an album opener that instantly makes you sit up and take note. ‘Bonzai Kamikazee’ opens with backwards masked noise reminiscent of ‘Roots’-era sepultura only for the track itself to build into an unassailably savage melee of riffs and screaming vocals that shows just how much fire the Cavalera’s maintain. As if to prove the point, the sub-three-minute ‘scum’ is a bass-led nightmare that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Napalm Death album. ‘I barbarian’ is a slower, more groove orientated blast that sits squarely in soulfly territory, although even here there’s a sense that the Cavalera’s are straining at the leash and pushing the boundaries by adding numerous embellishments to an otherwise straightforward and brutal song, always keeping it interesting, always keeping it fresh. What’s most notable is that, despite the weighty lyrical matter, the album is, more than anything else, a devastatingly heavy celebration from two people who, even three albums into the process, are still in love with making music together, and its impossible to ignore the rampant enthusiasm that underpins the whole disc. ‘Cramunhao’, with its blistering solos, is a crunchy gem with Max once again stretching himself to deliver a performance outside of his normal comfort zone, his delivery almost mechanistic in its intensity. With its unhinged opening, ‘Apex predator’ is a monstrous outpouring of rage that floods from the speakers and then ‘Insurrection’ comes storming out of the gates with a short intro from Igor and some suspiciously slayer-esque guitar work. It’s extremely powerful but, and perhaps more to the point, it’s extremely good fun – the sort of music you cannot wait to leap into a mosh pit to, and there’s no question that the band will have heads banging everywhere when this beast is released.

Opening with some unusual instrumentation, ‘not losing the edge’ shows that far from losing it, the Cavalera brothers have sharpened their edge to a razor’s edge. Once again the ‘roots’ heritage is clear, but there’s so much more confidence, power and experience here that these songs stand head and shoulder with that long-established classic, rather than hide in its shadow, and there is a fair argument that this record could become a metallic classic for a whole new generation just discovering the Cavaleras’ work for the first time. With its thunderous percussion, ‘Father of hate’ is a blistering yet unique demonstration of the band’s metallic might, remarkably upping the aggression a notch and threatening to simply obliterate the competition. ‘The crucible’ again tips a nod in Slayer’s direction and offers up some awesome bass work in its mid-section, the result being a crushing song that gains weight by adding some slow passages that resonate with such power they shake the very foundations if played at sufficient volume. Official final track ‘Deus Ex Machina’ is also the album’s longest song at some six and a half minutes but it feels a fraction of that, so frantic is the band’s delivery. It provides a fitting end to the album seeing the record out on a brutal note. A bonus track, ‘Porra’ again harks back to ‘Roots’ with its ethnic instrumentation and, whilst it’s a cool bonus, it doesn’t have the same impact as the brutal conclusion of ‘Deus Ex Machina’

Cavalera Conspiracy are always a band to look forward to. The sheer joy with which the Cavalera brothers play is a delight to hear, the power and precision they bring to bear without question. Max has clearly been spending the last couple of years indulging in his favourite pastime of listening to some seriously heavy tunes and Igor underpins his furious musings with a phenomenal level of power. Uncompromising and innovative, ‘Pandemoninum’ sees Cavalera conspiracy indulging their love of all things heavy, and of each other, in equal measure and the result is an album that is a brutal joy from start to finish. Arguably one of the metal releases of the year, in a year when there have been some truly stunning albums already released, ‘Pandemonium’ is every bit the heavy metal monster its authors imagine it to be.

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  1. Max Cavalera Speaks To SonicAbuse | Sonic Abuse November 10, 2014 5:15 pm  Reply

    […] brutal efforts of Max’s long career. We’ve already reviewed ‘Pandemonium’ (see here) but we were lucky enough to secure some time to talk to Max about the album and its formation. Far […]

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