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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.