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Max Cavalera is one of many metal artists commonly rejected by the metal scene at large for putting out a slew of mentally questionable nu-metal albums with his band Soulfly over the course of a good 6 years beginning with Soulfly in 1998 and ending with Prophecy in 2004, before finally returning to his thrashy roots in 2005 far beyond the point metalheads actually cared about him anymore. I don't really like the aforementioned albums all too much but considering I was only a wee child when the majority of this happened I couldn't care less. As a result I'm usually really excited when Max puts out something with his name on it. Unless it's a shitty generic metalcore/groove project like the hideous Killer Be Killed self-titled debut released earlier this year.
Cavalera Conspiracy is one of Max's many side-projects, formed in 2007 after finally reuniting with his brother Iggor after the 2 played together at the annual "Dana Wells Memorial" show. A show dedicated to Max's tragically dead stepson Dana Wells, an event that stirred up such a storm back in 1996 that he was forced to leave his previous band, Sepultura. According to some sources, Cavalera Conspiracy was "the closest we were ever gonna get to a Sepultura reunion" and that's a statement I can agree with. Certainly after hearing Inflikted, an album that really surprised me upon first listen.
Because Inflikted is good, seriously good. It's not really a return to form as many hoped it would be, i'd rather call it a upgrade to the formula Max had been using since his 2005 outing Dark Ages with his current main band Soulfly. As a result, this album is the well-known mixture of groove/thrash/death with its fair share of influences from other genres. What you get here is basically a heavily groove-influenced modern thrash metal album with some death metal and hardcore elements. Most of the songs are groovy but speed up to a pretty fast mid-pace tempo, usually accompanied with a solo or a cool riff produced by long-time shredder Marc Rizzo, whom Max took with him from Soulfly.
This album is still 100% Max Cavalera though, so there are no poetic lyrics, no overly-complex song structures or well thought-out formulas. This is simple, brutal, heavy and fast, it doesn't fuck around and it does nothing more than what it's supposed to do: Be heavy. This album is efficient and very simple on the ears, it's not an album you have to pay much attention to because there really isn't much more going on than what you can actually hear by just listening to it. One could argue that Max might be slacking a little because he recycles alot of his previous material (mainly lyrics) but no matter how he did it, he made it work great here, one should not pay too much attention to the lyrics and most definitely should not expect too much of this album, complex hasn't been a word in Max's dictionary for quite a few years now and this album stands for that.
One of the most beneficial factors to this album's sound is the great barrage of beats that's produced by Max's drumming brother Iggor, who left Sepultura in 2006 to focus on his personal projects, this included. His attack of heavy and fast hits is really beneficial to the heaviness this album brings forward. He really shines on some of the faster songs such as "Hex", "Nevertrust", "The Exorcist" and "In Conspiracy". With the latter 2 coming with the special edition of this album. 2 songs that should have been on the album itself instead of having them as bonus tracks, but that's just my opinion. Still, regardless of some of the extreme ass-kicking tracks this album contains, there are some tracks that sound and act as filler, I'm talking tracks like "Black Ark" and "Must Kill" for example, 2 tracks that could easily have been left out and replaced by the bonus tracks for example, that would have made this album a lot better than it already is now.
Nothing to criticize on the musicians here, I didn't expect much more. None of them are really technically impressive more than anything else and I didn't hope for much more. Every role here is filled in as it should, Max does his vocals right, Rizzo does his shredding right, Iggor does his drumming right and apart from the lack of a decent bass sound there isn't anything to criticize here. This album is a great case of "living up to its potential" because who would have expected an Arise v2 here? Inflikted is simply a brutally effective groove/thrash/death fusion album that stands as one of Max's best albums of the past decade, more or less similar to Soulfly's Conquer, released 1 year after this.
There is a conspiracy afoot here, a rather dastardly plan against one of the most obvious truths known to man of groove metal’s lackluster nature. This illuminati-like scheme has sought to take the least offensive aspects of the mid-90s bastardization of thrash and inject it with a fairly strong bit of death/thrash. This conspiracy bears the name of one of the most loved and hated names in thrash circles, depending on which era the name denotes; that name being Cavalera. Like a modern sledgehammer smashing stone into dust, it defies most of the established dogmas instilled by its namesake’s former outfit Sepultura and others such as Machine Head and Pantera, and brings something much more intense to the table.
If one were to attribute to “Inflikted” the description of being a “Roots” follow up, said person would do well to revisit said mid 90s album of horridness for a quick reorientation on the textbook definition of sucking, as well as to better reestablish the boundaries between nu-metal and groove metal. If anything, a comparison to the somewhat stronger “Chaos A.D.” would be better, though still pretty far off from the right picture. This thing relentlessly offers up pounding riffs with minimal studio toy sounds, avoids the goofy tribal nonsense, and somewhat resembles the direction that Machine Head took on “The Blackening”, although it comes off as less pretentious and avoids sounding like metalcore.
In spite of the positive things going on here, it is important to remember that this is not a return to the band’s early Death/Thrash pioneer days, or the high flying riff extravaganza of “Beneath The Remains”. This is a full out modern revisualization of a few bits and pieces of Sepultura’s past, and tends to emulate all of its various eras before Max Cavalera’s exodus. Sometimes they seem to be reaching back to that time a little in faster assaults such as “Sanctuary” and “Hex”, both of which have enough lead guitar detailing to almost resemble Arsis. In fact, apart from the vocals, which do tend towards a hardcore shouting character; a lot of these songs really seem to take a fair number of nods from recent tech. death bands, though the songwriting stays much more streamlined and in conformity with standards of accessibility.
Consistently good is probably the best way to sum up “Inflikted”, which establishes Cavalera Conspiracy as a potentially serious player in the modern Metal scene. Whether they’re pounding out thudding Groove work with a tasteful and measured amount of tribal percussive additives in “Terrorize” and “Dark Ark”, or galloping and riffing into a modern variant on textbook Thrash in “Hearts Of Darkness”, things flow smoothly. This isn’t quite something that will wow everybody, being more like a good album with a few great elements rather than all out amazing, but it could win over a few older fans of death and thrash, along with roping in all of the newer generation who are more accustomed to an overtly polished production. In other words, not quite an essential purchase, but definitely something worth looking into if one is inclined towards fast and heavy music with fancy guitar work and raunchy shouts.
Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on July 18, 2010.
The collapse of Sepultura (when I say "collapse," I mean the end of the Cavalera reign) was not an easy one for any metal fan to take, particularly those like me who held their thrash records in such high regard. More painful than simply watching this band disappear was watch it morph into a hardcore/tribal shadow of its former self, a route that Sepultura was quickly headed down with or without Max Cavalera as their frontman. Even worse, Cavalera formed Soulfly, which I'm sure was great for him to seek out his spirituality in music, but hard for the Sepultura fanbase to stomach.
Fast forward over a decade of time, basically a point in time when I had completely given up on anything worthwhile coming out of the Cavalera name. Cavalera Conspiracy helped to ease the disappointment that both Soulfly and Sepultura are, but is nowhere near the "comeback" of Sepultura's brand of thrash metal the way the media chalked it up as. Granted, its a little unfair to expect the Cavalera brothers to return to making something like "Beneath the Remains," particularly since that had quite some time ago for both brothers and I'm not sure either one remembers how to write a thrash song. Regardless, "Inflikted" does manage to stand up as a respectable release, albeit one that falls short of the great expectations set for it by excessive media hype.
The way I see it, "Inflikted" is like a bridge connecting the worlds of Sepultura and Soulfly, the former in its various incarnations of post-thrash and slightly touching the thrashier music of that band. The latter pops up in Max Cavalera's vocal performance, which is decent enough but certainly makes one miss his growling of yesteryear. Of course, Cavalera's songwriting abilities aren't particularly amazing, nor are his lyrics. Unfortunately, most of the themes present on "Inflikted" are more of the same, mostly uninspired rehashes of subject matter that make up the bulk of Soulfly's lyrical content. His excessive profanity was a major turn off for me, as I don't mind the occasional expletive as it emphasizes a point, but too much sounds amatuerish and embarrassing to listen to.
Aside from the issues with the front man (who I was hoping to see return to former glory,) "Inflikted" is reliable yet unsatisfying music. It does give the listener a positive experience, the title track, "Sanctuary" and "Bloodbrawl." All contain instances of good songwriting and not to mention snarling riffs that helps one to remember Sepultura of days past. Unfortunately, instead of fulfill the void, it instead makes the listener want to eject "Inflikted" and revisit some of those old Sepultura albums. To be stated plainly, this isn't what most people wanted out of a Cavalera reunion in that it isn't thrash metal. What "Inflikted" winds up delivering its audience is a cross breed between "Chaos A.D." and Soulfly's later material. I am not a big fan of either of these, so while "Inflikted" has its moments, it also fails to capitalize on the magic that the Cavalera brothers had in their golden era.
To say this album was a disappointment would be exactly dead on, but I do think it is unfair to expect something truly invigorating and enthralling out of the Cavaleras anymore. We haven't gotten anything truly incredible from them (either together or individually) since 1991 so I can't see why it would happen now. However, for what it is, "Inflikted" is a quite decent listen. I found some of the songs to be endearing, aside from the obvious recycling of old Soulfly themes and concepts, minus the Brazilian influences. The biggest flaw in the album is its none too different from everything else going on these days, in that it holds your attention while its playing but you have little desire to hear it again as you seek out better music.
I don't know exactly what to say about this album. I've heard better but I gotta say that this "new" band is the best band to come out in the last 10 years. "Inflikted" as an album ain't bad at all either. It's pretty damn good actually, also one of the better so far since the 2000s took off. Simply said, this is the legendary brothers and former Sepultura memebers Max and Igor Cavalera's new project and it's really great compared to todays metal scene.
"Inflikted" starts off with a self-titled track and it sure is a killer, one of the best here as well. It's driven by an insane gutiar riff and Max insane growl. "Sanctuary" was the song that made me check out these guys and it's maybe the best metal song since Dismember's "Casket Garden" (1995!). It goes off with a weird Star Wars-alike sound and then just "bang!" and the hell's all loose. "Terrorize" and "Black Ark" is the first defenitive proofs of this albums groove metal influence as both of them has a touch of Brazilian jungle music or whatever. The rest of the album goes off pretty nice but too average compared to the first four tracks but the last song "Must Kill" is a heavy metal monster. There's one edition which features two bonus tracks, "The Exorcist" which also is pretty average and the awesome killer "In Conspiracy".
The production is great, sound a lot like Machine Head since it's their classic guitarist Logan Mader who's in co-producing with Max on this album. I've always thought that the early Machine Head and Pantera sounded a lot like how "kick-ass metal" was supposed to. This album also got some of those touches which makes it one of the better albums recently released.
The cast is surprisingly good. You can literally hear that Max and Igor have a passion of playing together and that it has been a long time coming since they did that. The lead guitarist and the basist are great musicians as well. Everything's sounds simply great on the bass parts and there are a couple of insane guitar solos that I just totally love. Max has once again made a couple of immortal metal riffs that you'll remember for days after listening to this. Igor's drumming has since the early Sepultura days grown to something that no other human could recreate.
So finally to my last comments on "Inflikted"....
There are both good and bad things with this album, I can start with the bad.
The bad things are not many but some tracks in the middle are a little too average compared to the rest which makes it all a little like a roller caster.
The good things is that something like this was created in days like these. I've not heard many great albums that have been released after 1995/96 or so and that makes this album particulary good for todays scene.
The best tunes here is: Sanctuary, Inflikted, Must Kill, Ultra-Violent and if you have the bonus tracks edition then you can count on "In Conspiracy" as well.
This album is defenitely worth checking out and I recommend it because it's great and I don't count on hearing much of this in the future either...
First of all, this is not a return to the old sound of Sepultura. I'm getting a headache from all the wannabes who claim the Cavalera's have returned to the old-school. No, this is more of the same groove metal that they have been offering is for the last ten years. Think Soulfly, but more intense and a with a mild death/thrash influence ("Hex", for example).
This is not a missing link between two Sepultura albums; in fact it doesn't sound anything like a Sepultura album. It is, however, better than most of the post-95 work of the Cavalera brothers. Without a doubt, this is a huge step forward. Unfortunately, there are still too many flaws to make it a good album. If you are looking for thrash you wonâ€™t find it here and if you are looking for the old Sepultura sound you'll come back with a headache.
The sound is best described as a more intense version of groove metal, with the typical instrumental passages as found on Soulfly's Dark Ages. We can distinguish a small influence from metalcore on some songs, but less than I expected. On a couple of tracks there are also keys present, who provide some variation. Max sounds surprisingly good, but nothing spectacular compared to himself on Beneath the Remains or Arise. His rhythm guitar work is at times pretty bland and simplistic, while Marc Rizzo only has a handful of moments of glory. Rizzo simply does what heâ€™s good at: mindless shredding without any apparent purpose.
Joe Duplantier's bass playing is simply put bad, though that's to be expected because he's not really a bass player at all. The only track with a good bassline is on "Ultra-Violent", where Rex Brown handled the low end. I expected something really spectacular from Igor, but that didn't happen. In stead, it's hard to tell he's the same guy that used to drum for the old Sepultura. Although the drumming on Inflikted is pretty disappointing, it doesnâ€™t really bother me that much. The production is crystal clear, which was to be expected from a Roadrunner release. I'm guessing a more raw-sounding production would have been a better choice.
- a couple of cool tracks, such as Inflikted and Sanctuary.
- better than anything the Cavalera's have done after 1995.
- if you like groove metal you'll like this. I donâ€™t like this genre, but Iâ€™m sure fans of it will enjoy Cavalera Conpiracy.
- the lyrics. Dear god, this is less inspired than yelling "death! destruction! kill! die!" for an entire hour. In fact, that's exactly what these lyrics are. Just look at some of the song titles to get an idea of how crappy the lyrics are.
- the bass. Perhaps for the next album they'll get a real bass player ...
- Marc Rizzo. Somebody please tell Max to get rid of this clown and get Jairo Fucking Tormentor in the band. Now that would be badass, even more so than getting Andrea$ Ki$$er to do a Sep reunion tour. Could you guys imagine Â¾ of the Morbid Visions line-up making music again?
To sum it up, this is basically a more intense version of Soulfly, nothing alike old Sepultura at all. Don't believe all the people who claim this sounds like thrash. Just don't.
People who have been following Max and Soulfly have been aware a few years now that the amount of thrash (and fast music in general) has been increasing on the last two Soulfly albums Prophecy and Dark Ages. For those people this Cavalera Conspiracy album isn’t that much of a surprise. Those who left Sepultura behind around Roots and never checked Soulfly but heard some songs now and then, are in for a surprise.
‘Inflikted’ is the ultimate blend between the last two Soulfly albums and Sepultura during the ‘Arise’ period. There is absolutely nothing new to be found here and no one really complains about this so far. The pressence of Soulfly guitarist Marc Rizzo gives the music an extra dimension since his leads obviously give the music a Soufly feeling at times but he does more than that and some of his leads even bring Marty Friedman and Chuck Schuldiner to mind! His work keeps lesser good songs like “Hearts of Darkness” alive.
The titletrack ‘Inflikted’, as we all remember, was written originally as a new Soulfly track and as such it does sound like a Soulfly song. The uptempo part with solo is simply mindblowing and Marc Rizzo shows he can really shred and write a melodic and memorable lead at the same time. People who claim to hate Soulfly but say they like this song, are clearly hyprocrites. This song is just as good as the opening tracks on previous regular Soulfly albums. Semi-thrasher “Bloodbrawl” also could have come straight from Soulfly’s earlier Dark Ages album and the second half of this song (the leads and clean outro) is simply beautiful!
Songs such as “Sanctuary” are a return to the days of ‘Arise’ with a touch of modern Soulfly leads, solos and accompanying sounds. Überthrasher “Hex” even goes further and the riffs here are more technical than everything Soulfly and Sepultura have ever done before. “Nevertrust” mixes punk with thrash and features briliant work on leads by Rizzo. On “Terrorize” the mix between later Soulfly and Arise-era Sepultura becomes the most obvious. Superb song!
The intro and large sections of ‘Dark Ark’ could have come straight from Chaos A.D. I must however deduct some points because of the Celtic Frost/Hellhammer plagiarism on “Ultra-Violent” (which incidentally also is one of the worst songs on the album expect for the faster parts). Also the vocals on “The Doom Of All Fires” could have been better and more powerful. The rest of this midpaced song however is pretty good pounding thrash metal though and the up tempo part at the end is more Sepultura than Sepultura have been since ‘93.
The album could even have been better and one knows this ‘project’ was written and recorded quite fast. There could have been more faster songs on here so there would have been a better balance. Unfortunately the album slowly dies at the end with lesser good songs such as “Hearts of Darkness” and “Must Kill”. So even though I really love this album I know they can do even better. Of course I hope they will do so on the next album and therefor I cannot give more than 90 points.
Stand outs: Sanctuary, Terrorize, Hex, Bloodbrawl, Nevertrust
Let’s get straight to the point: 80% of Sepultura group were the Cavalera brothers and their split was terribly painful. Since that day, Sepultura would not have been the same again. They went groove and sometimes too metalcore. The reunion was rumoured when Igor left definitely the historical band to join again the brother and play new music together once again. This fact was quite “epochal” in the metal scene and everybody was terribly curious about this new project and I was too.
So here I am, curious like a child when it’s Christmas day. The distorted guitars intro is quite odd and reminds me Chaos A.D. period and the following semi mid paced riff is nice but the use of some keys sound already bothers me a bit. The Oriental melodies in the guitars are something very strange and in general the atmosphere is quite gloom. Max’s vocals are always powerful as 15 years ago while the Igor way of playing here is a bit martial so it’s hard to describe.
The guitars riffs are hardcore worshipper and mostly influenced by Soulfly period with some paused chords. The production is clean and also for this, the riffs sound a bit sloppy and a bit suffocated by the rhythmic session. The patterns on “Black Ark” are typically hardcore/groove with tribal influences. Anyway, so far this album sounds better than Roots…definitely more metal oriented. Anyway what I dislike is the use of keys sound and the paused chords parts.
“Sanctuary” is definitely more metal with good up tempos and more thrash metal sounds. The peaks of the past are difficult to reach again but this song is enjoyable and truly violent. The riffage here is far better. Quite forgettable the mid paced, groove tempos on these songs; only the few up tempos are quite better. Hard to stand a metalcore song like “Ultra-Violent” that seems to come out from Against album.
“Hex” is surprisingly fast as hell with a punk oriented beginning and following thrash metal tempos and guitars riff. Here Igor does a really great job while the vocals are truly extreme. One of the best songs here. The other songs are constantly in balance between hardcore/groove semi mid paced tempos with speed restarts by the end(“The Doom Off All Fires”, “Hearts Of Darkness”) and total up tempos (“Nevertrust”).
Well, what else can be said? This album could have been perfect in the period between Chaos A.D. and Roots and, exception made for few songs, it is mostly groove metal. I expected something really different but those are 2008 Cavalera brothers and now it’s your choice but don’t expect another Arise, for example.
Let's face it, Sepultura wasn't Sepultura after Max left and while Derrick Green has a good voice and can write some cool riffs, he just isn't Max Cavalera. It's kind of like Van Halen with Sammy Hagar, he's good but there's no way that he can replace a legend and I became a Soulfly fan after Roots and the fact that Igor left the band as well is just the final nail in the coffin for Sepultura for me.
Now that that's out of the way, how does Inflikted hold up as an album since it's just as much Sepultura as the titular band itself? Pretty damn well. Inflikted sounds like the missing link between Arise and Chaos A.D. with just the right amount of groove thrown in with the trash and even a few death growls put in to get even more out of that old-school Sepultura sound.
The title track that opens this album up features some kick-ass leads from Marc Rizzo that totally get stuck in your head and the album grips you from there. While some lyrics repeat in The Doom of All Fires which makes the song sound like it should have been saved for a potential second album, it doesn't detract too much from the album and there are a number of great moments that make up for it, like the incredibly thrashy Hex and the acoustic breakdown that ends Bloodbrawl that actually stands out in a musical environment that is oversaturated with breakdowns and doesn't sound contrived at all.
If you're one of those people who truly adores old-school Sepultura, then you absolutely need to hear this. It's got everything that made early Sepultura great while at the same time sounding fresh. It may not be the absolute best album of the year but I'll be damned if I said that it isn't buying.