Cavalera Conspiracy - Pandemonium (Napalm Records)

Another excellent slab of Thrash/Death from the Cavalera brothers.
Release Date: 
31 Oct 2014 (All day)

Having been central to making three albums with three different bands released this year, and publishing an autobiography, Max Cavalera is keeping himself very busy and incredibly productive. And the new Cavalera Conspiracy album, to this reviewer’s ears at least, is not just the best album of the three albums Max has been on in 2014, but the best Cavalera Conspiracy album overall. It’s certainly the most raw and aggressive, and the closest musically and in spirit to Sepultura’s early albums.

Babylonian Pandemonium begins with a definite Ministry meets the Silvester Anfang electronic/industrial percussive intro on Mayhem’s classic EP Deathcrush. And once the song really kicks in, with a few exceptions, the whole album is about the speed. Fast drumming, fast riffs, fast everything. There is a distorted vocal effect throughout most of the song which makes Max’s singing sound like it was recorded deep in Poseidon’s depths. This gives it an otherworldly, not quite human quality, which is interesting but seems to take away from the savagery of Max’s in your face brutal bellows he is best known for. The drumming and riffing is both fast and extremely catchy, and it is currently the only song on the album with a music video online.

Bonzai Kamikazee succeeds on every level - vocally, musically, and lyrically. Igor Cavalera gives an intense drumming performance, with a strong earthy quality - all the more appreciated when some of the instruments cut back and allow the drums to take center stage. Max yelling ‘Kamikazee Suicide!’ repeatedly towards the end of the song lends itself to thousands of people screaming the lyric back at a metal festival in a muddy European field.

Scum starts off with grimy and distorted bass that sounds particularly punishing, and this continues throughout the song, significantly altering  how heavy it is. The bass plays quite an important role on Pandemonium, making a vital contribution to the overall heaviness. It’s thick, like Entombed, but played with a hardcore punk sensibility, which makes sense given that Nate Newton, from Converge, plays bass on the album.

Cramunhao features a brilliant introductory solo. Apex Predator gets the whole band firing on all cylinders. Not Losing The Edge has an Arabic flavour distinguishing it from everything else on the album, and Porra exhibits a strong Roots-era vibe. The latter song has traditional instrumentation ala Attitude off Roots, but also acoustic guitar and distorted guitar. There is a soft/loud dynamic similar to Nirvana, switching between the acoustic and electric parts, and sections where the acoustic and electric guitar are playing alongside each other.

While the album keeps the interest of the listener the whole way through, if it had gone on much longer it would have become overly repetitive. Apart from the songs with the most distinct identity, there is a tendency for some songs to meld into each other. Much like with Sepultura and Soulfly, there are hardcore punk, industrial, and groove elements, though the latter is minimal on Pandemonium. This album is all about the metal thrashing madness, particularly the extreme end of thrash that bleeds into death metal, something the Cavalera brothers have turned into an art over the years. Think Kreator, Destruction, Sodom, Celtic Frost, Slaughter Lord, and so on. If you love albums like SchizophreniaBeneath The Remains and Arise, Pandemonium is the closest you are going to get to that classic era.    

The cover artwork is also totally metal and perfect for a large back patch. For the health of your metal soul go out and get this album.