Cavalera Conspiracy – Psychosis

Max and Iggor Cavalera have always been slightly ahead of the curve, so it seems fitting that they wrap up their 1996-trumpeting Return To Roots tour and get back on the Cavalera Conspiracy horse just as everyone else is realising that the stench of 80s nostalgia has got a bit stale and it’s time to replace it with the heady aroma of the 90s. On first impression, the band’s fourth album feels like the Brazilian bruisers have spent a little too long revisiting said decade, evoking the death/thrash template of Sepultura’s 1993 album ‘Chaos AD’ the most, but ‘Psychosis’ is very much a work of two halves, and while the first gives us classic Cavs, the second throws some strange new curveballs into the mix. Let’s start with the tried-and-tested, tracks 1-5, which offer classic Cavalera, battering the listener round the head with pounding death metal drums, driving thrash metal riffs, and Max’s unearthly growl, sounding angrier and more purposeful than ever before. Desperate to please and charging full-steam ahead like a bulldog with an arse full of wasps, Max peels off some genuinely career-best riffs, which tumble from the speakers like dominoes. ‘Terror Tactics’ and ‘Impalement Execution’ in particular are bloody masterclasses in forest-levelling sonic devastation, the latter re-discovering that monumental Cav-groove that was missing from 2014’s ‘Pandemonium’ while mixing it with some of Power Trip’s special Szechuan sauce. So far, so good, it seems Cavalera country is open for business and welcoming us with open arms, but then comes track 6, ‘Hellfire’, and the footing suddenly seems much less certain. While the opening makes bold promises of becoming ‘Inflikted Part Two’, building a tribal drum pattern over a distorted bass squeal, what follows is a full-on Ministry-esque industrial stomp with so much going on that it bubbles into a mulch of unfiltered aggression. Bearing little resemblance to anything the brothers have ever done before, it stands out like a burger in a bowl of M&Ms, derailing an otherwise brilliant run of thumpingly great metal. Ditto the title track, a four-minute instrumental post-punk soundscape that wouldn’t feel out of place on a David Cronenberg body-dysmorphia movie. The onslaught is briefly brought back on point with the black metal influenced ‘Judas Pariah’, but here we encounter one of the album’s biggest curiosities in undiluted form – the decision to dot spooky, ethereal vocal chants throughout the album. At best, these digitised ticks sound like incantations from a GCSE Satanic Studies exam, at worst ‘The Unspeakable One’, aka Rimmer’s self-loathing, from the ‘Terrorform’ episode of Red Dwarf. The Cavaleras have always hidden a slight sense of fun in their assault, but this heavy reliance on the spooky spooky seems at odds with their earnest “get in, get out, inflict as much damage as possible” approach to death metal. A closing spoken word passage about the “two-headed Brazilian Godzilla from beneath the underground slums of a third world” is particularly silly and unnecessary. That said, whilst occasionally challenging of one’s patience and seemingly influenced by horror movies rather than any music that’s currently doing the rounds, those riffs are simply undeniable, and if you can forgive Max his Exorcisty transgressions, ‘Psychosis’ has a great deal to enjoy.


Categories: Album Reviews, Reviews

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