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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.