Cavalera Conspiracy - Pandemonium Review

Cavalera Conspiracy - Pandemonium
Cavalera Conspiracy - Pandemonium. Napalm Records

If you want Max Cavalera to rejoin Sepultura, Cavalera Conspiracy are about as close as you're going to get. It's not that it sounds anything like Sepultura, but in case you weren't aware, Max's brother Igor, also formerly of Sepultura, plays with Max in this project. Joining the brothers on Pandemonium, Cavalera Conspiracy's third album, are Max's right hand man Marc Rizzo and Nate Newton of Converge/Doomriders.

For the most part, Newton’s role is downplayed as the guitars and drums dominate the mix. There are moments though where Newton's bass cuts through. “Apex Predator” and “Scum” feature some of his prominence, but it's “The Crucible” where we really hear him as he actually contribute vocals.

But Rizzo and the brothers Cavalera are the heart and soul and it shows. The dynamic between Max and Rizzo is instinctual at this point, having worked together for so long in Soulfly. On Pandemonium the pair takes a more direct approach in terms of speed. It's not all foot to the floor, but this is some of their fastest work yet. It's a relentless onslaught of breakneck rhythms and Rizzo's scorching solos cut with some slower parts that pile of the groove.

As finely honed as the Max/Rizzo machine is, one can expect the tracks to more or less follow the plan. They're not rewriting the formula as much as modifying it.

And it takes a drummer with chops to keep up. Few drummers are able to combine speed, finesse and outright power the way Igor does. Metal drumming has come a long way in the last 20 years or so and he's a big reason why. His work on Pandemonium is a shining example of that.

There's nothing terribly fresh or innovative on Pandemonium.

If you've been following Soulfly you'll know what to expect, as Cavalera Conspiracy and Soulfly understandably follow similar paths. But there's a large contingent of fans that aren't looking for progression. They just want something with fierce aggression and infectious riffs that they can bang their motherlovin' heads to.

That's where Cavalera Conspiracy excel. Mixing an extreme thrashiness with chunky grooves, industrial flavor (“Apex Predator,” “Insurrection”) and tribal/flamenco music (“Porra”), Cavalera Conspiracy push all the right buttons.

It's a tried and tested approach that has paid dividends for a number of years now. Simple yet powerful and effective choruses are a virtual trademark that the listener can really latch on to. However, Max does throw in a curveball. In addition to his usual bark he gets guttural like never before. It takes some getting used to, but it's nice to see him breaking his own mold a little.

At over 50 minutes and lacking much variation, Pandemonium may get a little tedious for some. But being packed so tightly with Rizzo's stellar guitar work, Igor's propulsive performance and the overall infectious drive ensures the listener remains engaged throughout their most intense album yet.

If you're already a fan of Cavalera Conspiracy or Soulfly (or even certain Sepultura albums) then belly up and get your fill. If not, Pandemonium probably won't do much to change your mind.

Cavalera Conspiracy - Pandemonium Track Listing:

01. Babylonian Pandemonium
02. Banzai Kamikaze
03. Scum
04. I, Barbarian
05. Cramunhao
06. Apex Predator
07. Insurrection
08. Not Losing the Edge
09. Father of Hate
10. The Crucible
11. Deus Ex Machina
12. Porra

(released November 4, 2104 on Napalm Records)