Given what Max Cavalera has been through in life, it's no wonder the man stays as busy as he does. While SOULFLY's been his main haven post-SEPULTURA, the reunion hub with his brother Igor, CAVALERA CONSPIRACY, has been equally productive now through their third album, "Pandemonium". Reportedly having the police called on them one night by a neighbor at a house producer John Gray (also the engineer on SOULFLY's "Prophecy" and "Dark Ages" albums) turned into a makeshift studio, the recording sessions of "Pandemonium" tells the album's unruly story in advance.
Thrashy, punk-grooved and even bearing trails of NAILBOMB (something Max Cavalera fans have been itching for years to hear again), "Pandemonium" is a perfect album title, considering it was almost called "Fuck That Groove". "Pandemonium" is as fast and fierce as anything the Cavalera brothers have assembled together or separately. It's the definition of relentlessness and fans who blow this one off should be ashamed of themselves. Joined by CONVERGE and DOOMRIDERS principal Nate Newton on bass this time and graced once again by the guitar wizardry of Marc Rizzo, "Pandemonium" is a scorcher.
With "Babylonian Pandemonium" kicking off the album, Igor Cavalera's tremendous velocity is one sign of the savagery to come. Marc Rizzo's outrageous shredding is another. Yet it's the deep-throated ralphing of Max Cavalera, hitting deep pitches he hasn't pulled out of his esophagus in ages, that signals these guys mean business as much their intent on "Pandemonium" is to simply let things rip.
Ripping is what they do on "Banzai Kamikaze" with the bludgeoning thrash staying at nearly a continuum minus a clobbering breakdown and air raid sirens leading to a moshed-up finale. The strumming is as fast as the beats and Max Cavalera's filtered rasps. The same can be said of the venomous "Scum" afterwards, though the repeated chords and progressions are a bit simpler here. The song is divided between two primary tempos: thrash and a hardcore throb. Marc Rizzo peals overhead while Nate Newton's bass grumbles beneath and the snarling chaos spills into the clattering, speedy "I, Barbarian". Max Cavalera continues to gore out his throat while arranging chunky chords reminiscent of NAILBOMB. Again Marc Rizzo is ever the artiste, decorating "I, Barbarian" with note rambling all over the verse riffs, while he puts on a colorful display on the song's stomping slowdown.
"Cramunhao" hardly slows down, even when decelerating from its thrashed-up opening. Rizzo turns his frets into a tsunami right off the bat while Igor Cavalera continues his ceaseless beat barrage, and as with much of "Pandemonium", the riff patterns are grabbed from NAILBOMB. It's the closest thing we're likely to hear in the way of a new NAILBOMB album, only CAVALERA CONSPIRACY boasts the otherworldly skills of Marc Rizzo and Igor Cavalera's capability to shift rhythms with concussive force.
"Apex Predator" throws the album for a loop with some cyber rakes, but the speed here only increases, getting within the old SEPULTURA days. A chomping breakdown turns up a slow-mincing chorus before kicking the thrusters back on and repeating the same scheme. Once more, Marc Rizzo's elevated guitar lines makes this song more than just a banging thrasher.
Thus largely describes the remaining tracks of "Pandemonium". If there's any criticism of this album (and it's a tiny one at best), it's the general predictability of the songwriting. There are allotments for improvisation, such as the huffing, BLACK SABBATH measures stuck on the tail end of "Insurrection" almost like a bonus track. Like SOULFLY's recent albums, there are exciting and inventive intros that inevitably lead to the same patterns. Fortunately, the thrash is so well-executed on this album, it's never boring.
At least "Not Losing the Edge" holds the thrash for later and bangs things out punk 'n metal style at mid-tempo with boisterous choruses and guitar plucks yielding a Middle Eastern-flair. "Deus Ex Machina" also hangs in a primary hardcore marching groove before propelling away. To keeps things fun as much as furious, Nate Newton gets to field vocals on "The Crucible" and for those dying for tribal roots and flamenco elements that have always been a part of the Cavalera (and Rizzo) world, you'll find those at the end of the album on "Porra".
In many ways, the stripped-back feel and back-to-basics mentality of "Pandemonium" is its strongest asset, outside of Marc Rizzo. Rizzo, who is grossly underrated as one of the best guitarists on the planet, has as much to do with the story here as he does on any project he affixes his name to, inclusive of his solo work. His video-game blipped solo on "Insurrection" is obscene and he's the difference maker in turning "Pandemonium" into a fine-tuned machine and not merely a meat grinder. All said, this album makes no bones about kicking your ass at ludicrous speed. Depending on how many listeners get a hold of it, "Pandemonium" should go down as a high point in the Cavalera legacy.