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I was pretty excited to hear that Max and Igor Cavalera were reuniting in 2008. Although Inflikted, their debut album as Cavalera Conspiracy, perhaps wasn’t their best joint effort and left me a little underwhelmed, it was an okay album with a phenomenal title track.
Like its predecessor, Blunt Force Trauma starts off strong. The opening track Warlord is a typical punch-in-the-face metal song with some great riffing and Max is sounding as brutal as ever. The following song, Torture, is a short burst of energy – not even two minutes. It may not be the most creative song of all time but I find it somewhat refreshing; many bands often to the complete opposite and fill their albums with unnecessarily long songs, which might be one of the most boring phenomena in metal today.
Lynch Mob, the third song of the album, features Agnostic Front vocalist Roger Miret whose characteristic vocal style really lifts the song. It’s actually one of my favourite songs on the album – I can’t really explain why but they just nailed the small details with this one. Unfortunately the album loses a lot of momentum afterwards. Killing Inside, the first song to be released as a single from this album, has a pretty cool part after the guitar solo but other than that it, along with the following three or four songs, feel a lot like filler songs.
Things get better by the end of the album, luckily. Burn Waco has some cool grindcore-influenced parts and a great guitar solo wrapping the entire song up. Rasputin is another okay song, but doesn’t really do much for me. The last song, moreover the title track of the album, Blunt Force Trauma is one of the strongest songs on the album and with the fading guitar harmonies at the end, I feel pretty good about the album.
I like the different influences in the music – thrash metal, grindcore, hardcore punk, heavy metal etcetera – but I still get somewhat bored by some of the songs. I do however like that the record is just a little more than half an hour long – it fits this kind of music perfectly and makes some mistakes forgivable. Overall, Blunt Force Trauma is a good follow-up album and it makes for some pretty sick live performances this summer!
Originally written for www.metalcovenant.com
Naturally, every metalhead got excited when they learned that the Cavalera brothers would start making music together again. Everyone was anxious to listen to some music done by them, and some were hoping that they would reach the same levels of perfection that they reached when they were in Sepultura. Naturally (again) many were disappointed; others were satisfied; some even loved it. When a couple of months past after the release of "Inflikted" and I had listened to it a billion times, memorized every single note, i was left begging for more. Finally my prayers have been answered and here it is, more music from the Cavalera brothers. The question is, is it good? Does it satisfy my needs?
Yes, but no. It depends on what your point of view is. I am satisfied for now, sort of temporarily. But there is nothing here that my ears will be begging to listen to again, a million times. It's not the most memorable piece of music these men have offered us thus far. It lacks long-term classics because every song sounds kinda over-produced. Choppy choruses and the whammy bar effect on every guitar solo is getting old. The songs on the album are brutal, but where is the grinding and pounding found on "Arise" or "Beneath The Remains"? I agree that every band has to progress and refine their own sound, but there is no variety in the new stuff. Where are the shotgun snares? Where are the groove breakdowns? Unfortunately every song sound quite the same, or really similar, particularly in the structure. Where is the individuality found on "Roots"?
In the end of the day though, Max and Igor are still the best brother tandem in metal so no matter what the band is, that's a fact. I wish they would have used a different lead guitarist on this album; Rizzo's leads are the reason Cavalera Conspiracy reminds me so much of Soulfly. If they had used a more raw-styled guitarist instead of a finesse player like Rizzo i think it would have been more complimentary to the aggressiveness of the songs on this album.
Overall this is a really solid release and an enjoyable listen that is really headbangable. The problem is that not many tracks stand out and there is not much variation. The album is not really benefited by the really high-profile production and recording, as it reduces the raw feeling.
Highlight(s); "Killing Inside".
I must begin this stating that I do love and respect the brazilian brothers in question. “Classic” Sepultura was one of the vessels that led me to my first explorations of extreme metal. Therefore I was pretty interested in this project since its inception in 2007. In fact, Inflikted was amongst the releases from 2008 that I enjoyed the most, despite not being particularly innovative or original. Regardless of its faults, Cavalera Conspiracy’s debut had an undeniable dose of punch and power, which has not fully survived for their sophomore, Blunt Force Trauma. It’s like the aggression and passion has now been coldly calculated, and it feels somehow fake. But what most metalheads will perceive when listening to this album is the increased melody added to the band’s brand of post-deathrash (whatever that means!)
Now, melody and aggression are no novelty. Kreator, Amorphis, the whole Gothenburg scene… the list goes on and on. However while some of those bands have merged those characteristics with varying degrees of success, the specific way this mixture appears on Blunt Force Trauma actually reminds me of a lot of polemic metalcore acts such as Killswitch Engage or All That Remains. I’m a fan of melodic metal and while I don’t entirely despise these bands as some do, truth is nobody really expected an album crafted by the Cavalera bros. and company to sound like this, that is, as if they were ripping-off DevilDriver or Chimaira. Not a good thing at all. Why do they choose to pursue this direction?
“Warlord” is a not a great opener, decently brutal but dull. Things get better with next track, the brief “Torture”, one of my favorites here, a decent slab of cavalerian metal, featuring late 80’s deathrash riffage. “Lynch Mob”, featuring Roger Miret (Agnostic Front) on guest vocals is mildly interesting, but not much. Next dozen of tracks traverse dangerous waters of monotony and half-baked ideas. Songs seam to be (kind of) brutal for the sake of being brutal and intended to provoke moshing, but there’s really not much really interesting going on. Some good ideas appear here and there, like the catchy riffs and melodies at the first half of “I Speak Hate”. The beginnings of “Target” and “Thrasher” (what an original, non-cliché name! don’t you think?) also seam promising, but the first one ends in total metalcore-ish fashion and the second one actually becomes more groove than thrash. The Black Sabbath’s cover is also one of the better tracks here, obviously not superior to the original classic, but nicely performed and given the expected Cavalera treatment.
Also I have to point out that the guitar solos are a saving grace here, every one of them being interesting and not a carbon copy of each other. They’re thrashy, yet classically influenced and melodic. No surprise that Marc Rizzo is the man here. However, the riffs are not that interesting, most are recycled generic deathrash riffs, with hardcore punk influence and simplicity. The bass is mostly inaudible, and it doesn’t add much. And Igor’s drumming is simpler and well, blunt, but ultimately uninteresting. His tribal sensibilities and nice chops don’t show up here much. As for this older brother, his vocals are as harsh and powerful as ever, though I’m not that into his extensive use of effects. And his lyrics, while never known for their high degree of complexity, feel particularly uninspired.
Somehow this album reminds me of the Nailbomb experiment, and it’s not a complete failure, yet I’m not sure that this is heavier than it’s predecessor. Certainly it doesn’t makes Inflikted sound like pop music, as Max stated in an interview. On the contrary, whereas the debut aimed to old Sepultura sensibilities mixed with modern flourishes, the approach of Blunt Force Trauma feels more blatantly mainstream, more into Killswitch Engange territory than Sepultura’s. Therefore, I shall only recommend it to fans of said music. The bruise caused by this traumatism is shallow and insignificant, like a consequence of entering the mosh pit, the place where these songs might be enjoyed more, albeit for the fun of it, not because they kick ass.