Cavalera Conspiracy: Pandemonium

Within the world of metal, few names resonate as loudly as Cavalera – whether it be Max and Iggor in their Sepultura days, Max’s move to create Soulfly (which is well documented and explained in the incredible read that is My Bloody Roots – from Sepultura to Soulfly and Beyond by Max himself along with Joel McIver), Nailbomb, Probot, The Mummy Returns (Google it if you don’t believe me) and of course, Cavalera Conspiracy. With the latter due to release their third album, Pandemonium, on the 3rd of November in the UK, and the 4th of November in the US, it seemed only right that we focus on them for a few moments.

Cavalera Conspiracy is the new being, the reincarnation if you will, of what always drove Max and Iggor to make music – their love of working together. Formed out of Max bringing Iggor on stage at a Soulfly gig back in 2006, before stating basically that they should “make some music together” – they set forth, releasing Inflikted in 2007, then Blunt Force Trauma in 2009. Through their reunion, Max and Iggor once again have firmly stamped their mark upon the metal scene, leaving no doubt that together, they’re one hell of a force to be reckoned with.

Fast forward to 2014 and here we are, Max on rhythm guitar and vocals, Iggor on drums, Marc Rizzo on lead guitar and Nate Newton on bass, a new album primed and ready to go – but what of it?

As Babylonian Pandemonium kicks things off there is no doubt that this is a Cavalera record – out of the mysterious beginnings emerge the unrelenting power of Iggor on drums, the raw, dark power of Max’s vocals, and that unmistakeable power that only these two seem capable of slamming together. Add Marc and Newton into the mix and the result is like nothing you’ve ever heard from them before – it’s raw, brutal and straight down the line heavy. What is also immediately striking is how notable the production from John Gray is (Soulfly: Dark Ages and Prophecy) – the result is something raw, under produced and almost punk in some aspects, yet with an almost thrash style edge thrown in for good measure – it’s how you imagine the guys sound when playing live.

Bonzai Kamikazee continues this further, once again kicking off with a battering ram to the face before grabbing the listener by the throat and launching them into an almighty pit of all out destruction. Unwaveringly fast from the word go, it’s almost as if all of the anger, all of the angst and all of the problems that each band member has had in their life has been poured out into their music here, it’s serious SERIOUS stuff. Almost as if to say “you’ve heard nothing yet”, Scum follows on – once again raising the bar on the heavy front and once again, pushing the boundaries of what you expect to hear from the guys. Bass heavy from the word go and backed up by the thundering rhythms of Iggor, this track is one of the stand out moments on the record for sure, and a moment that fully reinforces the outlook with which the guys approached this album.

To me, that’s the key here – whether it be I, Barbarian once again showing the world what heavy actually means, or Cramunhao which captures much of the essence of the thrash movement, even going so far as to throw in a Kerry King style guitar lick just to make sure you’re fully on board, each track holds something slightly different yet at the same time, coherently links to the previous track, and the one which follows it.

A further high point on the album is soon achieved in the form of Apex Predator, demonstrating the versatility of their style and putting together a track packed with blast beats, hammering guitar lines, raw roaring vocals and intricate guitar work – it’s a melee of pure heaviness that is going to ignite pits the likes of which have never been seen. Despite the heaviness though, there is still the melodic background, allowing the listener to be hooked in and treated to a sonic battering whilst giving them that line which keeps them involved in the track.

Continuing on through the mind-blowingly fast paced Insurrection, the deceptively soft opening moments of Not Losing The Edge, the Soulfly-esque Father of Hate, and the smash to the face that is The Crucible, not a track sounds out of place, and there’s not a moment where the album becomes dull or predictable. Even through the penultimate track Deus Ex Machina, the theme of all out power and heavy continues, leading to the final moments of the album in the form of Porra. As a closing track I really like what they’ve done here, somehow combining Spanish style guitar and rhythms with seriously heavy undertones, and more power than most bands fit into an entire album. Finishing as only Cavalera Conspiracy can, we’re left with no doubts that this album has been different to their usual thing, yet somehow the natural evolution of the band.

I’ll hold my hands up and confess that I’m a huge Soulfly fan, have their logo tattooed on my back and see them whenever they are in the UK – but I’ve never managed to catch Cavalera Conspiracy live. What I can say with 100% certainty now though is that next time they’re on these shores, I’ll be on the front row – whether I survive how brutal it’s going to be I can’t say, but it’ll be so worth it just to hear this album live – wow is really the only response I can muster right now.

Rating: 10/10 Words: Dave Nicholls