Cavalera Conspiracy: Inflikted

A hooded, chained mutant breaks free on a soundstage during the filming of the clip

Review by Gregory S. Burkart

Forged from blood and iron by Brazilian thrash gods Max and Iggor (formerly Igor) Cavalera, this new arrival is born of the finest stock: both brothers emerged on the metal scene in 1983 as core members of Sepultura, although Max famously split from that band over a decade ago and carved out a successful niche for himself with Soulfly. The evil seed was first planted when the Cavaleras took the stage together for the Dana Tribute Show, an annual benefit to honor Max's deceased stepson Dana Wells; after playing together on classics like ?Roots? and ?Attitude,? they were quickly consumed with a mania to begin a new project together.

The end product of that obsession became Inflikted ? a scorching, savage and uncompromising debut that seems to have been boiling in the brothers' minds since they last shared a stage with Sepultura in 1996. ?Cavalera Conspiracy is about a sense of being unleashed,? says Max in the band's press release. ?You bottle a monster for 10 years and then let it out... we've waited a long time for this beast to be set free.?

That statement calls to mind the central image from the promo video for the band's first single ?Sanctuary? ? in which a hooded, chained mutant breaks free on a soundstage during the filming of the clip, tearing the entire crew into bloody bits while the brothers play on, unconcerned at the carnage unfolding around them. There couldn't be a more fitting visual description of the Cavaleras' approach to this project.

Deviating a bit from the culturally charged groove-metal that Sepultura fans have come to expect, Inflikted is a straight-on plunge into the dark side, with a hefty dose of aggressive grind (reminiscent of Max's other side-project, Nailbomb), thrash and a touch of hardcore. The savage, brutal subject matter is dripping with bloodthirsty intent ? not only evident in song titles like ?Ultra-Violent,? ?Bloodbrawl? and ?Must Kill,? but particularly through Iggor's inventive and distinct drumming style he first brought forth in albums like ?Chaos A.D.? (a style the brothers affectionately refer to as ?Thunder Drums?), Max's animal vocals and unrelenting speed-riffs (ably assisted by Soulfly guitarist Mark Rizzo and Gojira bassist Joe Duplantier) and atmospheric sound effects that interweave to create a nightmarish landscape of sonic destruction.

Although straightforward in its intention to craft the finest moshpit anthems (of which the title track and ?Terrorize? are great examples), Inflikted is a complex work built on many textures and interplaying styles. The excellent ?Black Ark? represents the biggest stylistic departure with a three-tiered approach that combines doubled, effects-treated vocals (Max and his stepson Ritchie join forces here) with a more prog-metal lead line and male chanting voices, all built atop Iggor's deep tribal drum patterns. ?Bloodbrawl,? one of the more violently-themed tracks on the album, ironically concludes with one of its most sublime moments ? an acoustic coda backed with Mellotron-like male choirs and an Aboriginal didgeridoo. It's a deep, meditative breath that prepares you for the coming onslaught of ?Nevertrust,? which quickly breaks down a fairly comprehensive enemies list in a mere two and a half minutes.

?Must Kill? has one of the best driving low riffs I've heard, building to a devastating climax with the two words of the title chanted in a fist-pumping mantra of rage. The Special Edition of the CD (also downloadable) continues from here with a synth drone propelling us into a diabolical cover of ?The Exorcist? from Possessed, which itself begins with an acoustic rendition of Mike Oldfield's ?Tubular Bells,? explodes into turbo-riff mayhem and concludes with a massive, echoing demonic roar, leading us into the additional B-side ?In Consipiracy.?

There's never a dull moment in Inflikted; it's a fat-free effort packaged with just the right amount of production gloss (with the aid of former Machine Head guitarist Logan Mader at the boards); technically pristine, but with a gritty, oily edge, spun at incredible speed by red-hot grooves and nimble fret-play. Definitely one of the year's finest metal albums ? and probably the closest thing to a genuine Sepultura reunion you're ever going to hear. On all counts, a massive release that belongs in any self-abusing metalist's collection.