It seems like only yesterday since the release of Killer Be Killed’s self titled debut,and straight off the bat,Max Cavalera returns with yet another one of his side projects. This time he’s brought his little brother Igor along for the ride,and unless you’ve been a hermit on one of Jupiter’s many moons for the past 30 years, you’ll know that these two were synonymous with Sepultura, until Max’s untimely departure in 96. Pandemonium is Cavalera Conspiracy’s 3rd album, and their first which takes you even closer to those golden years than ever before.
Like a step back to when the Cavalera boys were finding old batteries,and painting them gold for makeshift bullet belts (true story), ‘Babylonian Pandemonium’ is a portal back to a time when Sepultura were one of the biggest new things in thrash. The very ‘Arise’ sounding intro leads into the very ‘Arise’ sounding drum blast, which in turn leads in to the very ‘Arise’ sounding riff, wait, I think I’m beginning to see a pattern here, a pattern however which is indeed, welcomed. A must needed energy boost to get you on your way though all the screaming men and loud guitars.
The aforementioned “pattern” is somewhat of a continuing theme throughout the album. Close your eyes, and you’d swear you were listening to a Soulfly album. Which is good and all, but it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between a lot of what Cavalera does, and thus it becomes predictable. However,there’s a new, deeper element to Max’s voice which makes him sound like a Brazilian Barney Greenway in some aspects. The super deep gravel tones, especially on ‘Cramuhao’ and ‘I, Barbarian’ sounds like a cross between Louis Armstrong and a T-Rex, crushingly deep, armed to the teeth with razor sharp aggression.
The shoes of Joe Duplantier (he’s in a band called Gojira, you may of heard of them) [SQUEEE! – Ed] was never going to be easy ones to fill, good job they found someone just as proficient in Converge’s Nate Newton. Not being a stranger to flat out intensity, he takes on the challenge with the littlest of ease that is humanly possible. He shares vocal duties on ‘The Crucible’, which has that pummeling Converge twang to it, a side I feel could of been explored a little more, if this album has any chance of standing out.
The coup de grace of this album though is Igor. He’s at his absolute best throughout of Pandemonium, playing with the same brutal force as 20 highly strung Arnold Schwartzenegger’s with shotguns. Of all 3 of the CC albums, it’s here where he’s more like the old days of Roots. There’s an undeniably Samba vibe to the drum blasts, which makes him unique from his American or European counterparts, and it’s only in this 3rd installment of the bands relatively short career, where this fact has shouted its loudest.
This album is one which you’d expect from the bands namesake, no more,no less. There’s a lot more ideas from the Soulfly school of thought, ‘Porra’ even has the addition of a berimbau in the intro, circa 2000 and the days of ‘Back To The Primitive’. For nostalgic value alone, this touch added some much needed variety, all be it on the final track. There’s obviously high spots attached to this album, but for the most part, it’s business as usual, and sticks to that comfort zone that Max has found himself, a zone which he likes to stick to all too often. A little more experimentation outside of this bubble, and this album could of been a winner.
That said, it would just be nice if Cavalera Conspiracy had its own unique voice, instead of just another Soulfly/Sepultura.
When it was announced that the Cavalera brothers were going to be reunited once again, you’d be hard pressed to find someone as chuffed as me. Up until now, it’s just seemed like a novelty, an attraction to sell records, but now it’s as if it’s getting close to recapturing the essence of their former glory days.