Cavalera Conspiracy – ‘Psychosis’ CD Review

Neck braces on stand-by folks, Cavalera Conspiracy are back and they’re sounding more pissed off than ever. With the core band of Max, Igor and Marc Rizzo firing on all cylinders, ‘Pyschosis’, the band’s fourth outing, proves to be their most brutal offering yet. Producer Arthur Rizk, who also contributes bass, guitar, noise and synth, has given Cavalera Conspiracy an even more abrasive edge and the results are simply staggering. If you are into heavy music at all, then this is an essential purchase.

‘Insane’. The title kinda says it all really. It’s not like anyone is going to head into a Cavalera Conspiracy album expecting tranquillity, but even so, ‘Insane’ really does capture the band at their intimidating best, Max and Igor playing off each other with the same sense of fraternal joy that has underpinned all of their projects together. Searing punk metal at its best, ‘Insane’ kicks ‘Psychosis’ off nicely. Next up, the none-more-brutal ‘Terror tactics’ ups the ante, as Marc Rizzo unleashes a frantic solo that simply pisses over much of what has been unleashed under the banner of thrash in recent years. However, as we head further down the rabbit hole, a surprising shift of pace occurs as the band unveil a monstrous, metallic groove pinned to an industrial framework, the result being pitched somewhere between Fear Factory, Godflesh and Slayer. It’s a perfect example of the Cavalera brothers’ forward thinking approach to metal, and it sees Max stepping out in front of the pack once again. Hardly pausing for breath, the chrome-plated ‘Impalement execution’ adds dark layers of synth whilst Rizk gives Igor’s explosive drumming a high tech sheen that proves utterly devastating. Just in case you had any doubt as to the band’s commitment to updating their sound the backwards phasing that segues from ‘Impalement execution’ into ‘spectral war’ creates a vaguely unsettling air before the band bring in the pain with a straightforward Cavalera assault backed by Dominick Fernow’s eerie synth textures.

An album highlight, the blackened nightmare of ‘crom’ calls on Jason Tarpey and Roki Abdelaziz to add vocals, whilst the guitars rage around them. The dark industrial fire that was noted elsewhere reaches a peak here and you’re reminded of bands like Dodheimsgard as the band push remorselessly on into ‘hellfire’. Bringing in Godflesh’s Justin Broadrick on vocals is a masterstroke, his intimidating bark the perfect foil for Max’s more earthen growl. The sheet metal noise of the track is punishing in the extreme and it is something of a relief when the grinding riff of the punk-infused ‘Judas pariah’ emerges as the twisted cousin of ‘the song remains insane’. A step away from the frenetic intensity the rest of the album offers, the instrumental title track has a cinematic feel to it, the tribal intro (created by Iggor Cavalera and Laima Leyton) giving way to sweeping strings and shimmering guitar work that evoke images of a hallucinatory jungle fever.  At six-and-a-half minutes, ‘Excruciating’ is one hell of a track to see the album out. It opens as a punishing thrash assault, only to suddenly side-step, via a huge, symphonic breakdown, into some sort of ambient meltdown complete with Jaw Harp (Aaron Jaws Homoki) and digeridoo (Roy Young). Imagine if Soulfly were to collide with ‘S&M’-era Metallica and Exodus, and you have some idea of the genre-bending mashup that sees the album to its conclusion, but far from feeling inchoate, the band, ably aided by Rizk, bend it to their will, creating one of their most adventurous compositions to date in the process. It is one hell of a finale.

‘Psychosis’ is one of those albums that starts brutal and then ups the ante from there. Incredible as it seems, ‘Insane’ feels like an oasis of calm by the time you have passed through the sulphur-riven hell of ‘Crom’ and ‘hellfire’. The synth elements add much to the sound and, to this end, Arthur Rizk deserves much credit. Neither overcooked, nor underutilised, the synths allow Cavalera Conspiracy to move into new territory, the album as a whole roaming an obscure, extreme metal landscape that veers between old school thrash and black metal, edging into death and industrial along the way. It’s rare that you listen to an album in which Max has been involved where you don’t feel at least some of the excitement that so obviously flows through him as he writes, but even so, ‘Psychosis’ has one hell of a kick to it. It’s easy to imagine Max, half-crazed and with the same fixed grin Jack Nicholson adopted for the Shining, tearing around the studio as this album was being made, and there’s no doubt in my mind that this is the most exciting, adventurous Cavalera Conspiracy album to date. Embrace the darkness – ‘Psychosis’ is one hell of a ride. 10

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