Max Cavalera is without a doubt one of the busiest musicians in metal. The new album, Pandemonium (out November 4 via Napalm Records), from his CAVALERA CONSPIRACY project is his second release of 2014 (super group KILLER BE KILLED’S debut record being the first). Pandemonium sees bassist Nate Newton (CONVERGE, DOOMRIDERS) join the ranks and the group adds more of a grind attitude to the signature sound.
“Cramunhao” features some chaotic guitar work courtesy of resident shredder, Marc Rizzo. The blistering pace of the song flows throughout, relentless in its attack. The most notable evolution in the CAVALERA CONSPIRACY sound is Max Cavalera’s vocals. He presents rough, gritty, screaming vocals in a lower register; almost that of a growl. I was caught off guard at first, but it was a pleasant surprise. That alteration fits perfectly in those songs where it’s been placed. And yes, some classic Max vocals are heard throughout the album! “Apex Predator” strikes hard, introducing itself with more mind-bending guitar wizardry from Marc Rizzo before blasting forth with a raw aggression. The cacophonic guitars weave between frenzied melodies and straight up grinding beat downs. Igor Cavalera’s percussion leads “Insurrection” forth moments before the full band onslaught continues. In ways, this song felt like something that Max-fronted SEPULTURA would have done on Arise. I don’t say this in a sense of it being done already; I say it in regards to the excellence that is found throughout that thrash masterpiece. I must also add that the leads played on this track are out of this world.
Song number eight, “Not Losing the Edge” seems to focus on a more primitive arrangement with some complex nuances towards the end. You will experience some classic Cavalera groove and chugging on this track, blended with in your face guitar effects, leads, and soloing. “Father of Hate” revisits the grind mentality mentioned earlier. This composition doesn’t feature too many frills, just a direct bludgeoning of thrash-induced rage. It is certainly one of the heaviest tracks on a record full of incredibly heavy music. Opener “Babylonian Pandemonium” was the first taste of the album the band delivered. This song spiked my interest and after many listens, it still stands as one of the best on the record. Max’s voice sounds huge, pissed, and at times, tormented. I feel that this is the definitive track for CAVALERA CONSPIRACY, as it seems to encompass elements from their past efforts, while introducing the newer ground explored on this album. “The Crucible” features vocal contributions from bassist Nate Newton, which sound tremendous paired with Max’s lower ranged vocals. At the 2:23 mark, you can hear Nate’s bass tone singled out in the mix. His gritty, distorted low end is a perfect match for this group. This song is a shining moment for Nate, as well as the entire band.
The longest track, “Deus Ex Machina,” clocks in at 6:29 and has some interesting dynamics. The swift thrashing music continues on, dashed with moments of blazing guitars courtesy of Marc, but a shift occurs around 4:48 where the song becomes bass-driven and sludgy. It is an epic listen and adds new territory to the sonic ground created by CAVALERA CONSPIRACY. Closer “Porra” features some tribal instruments a la SOULFLY. It is very unique in that they are peppered throughout the composition, even closely placed to heavier moments with distorted guitars and screaming vocals. The second track the band debuted was the incredibly speedy and precise “Bonzai Kamikazee.” This song shows the group at their melodic thrashing excellence. “Scum” follows as the shortest, and most grind focused, number on the record. Reminiscent of something NAILBOMB would write, the rage on Pandemonium is at its height here. Tremolo-picked riffs make “I, Barbarian” a buzz saw, but the low tuned grooves turn it into an absolute behemoth that crushes.
The breaking of new musical ground, while revisiting that of albums past makes Pandemonium a heavy hitting record. Nate Newton was a terrific addition to the band and his influence can definitely be spotted throughout the new sound of CAVALERA CONSPIRACY. This is the strongest album the quartet has released, and it has me anxious to hear what’s to follow in the future. If you’re looking for something new in the extreme music realm, you won’t go wrong here.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Insurrection”, “Father of Hate”, “Scum”, “I, Barbarian”
WRITTEN BY ERIC THE BULL