In 2008, the music world experienced a miracle. The long time feud between brothers Max and Igor Cavalera had come to an end. In fact they weren’t just talking, they had formed a new band Cavalera Conspiracy and released debut Inflikted on an unsuspecting audience.
It was everything I hoped it would be. One of my favourite records in recent years, Inflikted has had regular playtime on my iPod, so it’s with great anticipation I approached new album Blunt Force Trauma.
The album’s a hell of a lot faster than Inflikted was – even evoking memories of early Sepultura. It is like if the first record was the boys getting together and churning out ideas, this is the more evolved form of those ideas, and in some cases honed to near perfection.First track ‘Warlord’ is a great tune it’s not as instantly appealing as Inflikted‘s self titled opener was. For those couple of minutes despite liking the track I could feel a little fear of disappointment creeping in. And then came track two.
Holy shit!, ‘Torture’ should have been the opener. Clocking in at 1:51, it’s a short sharp brutal shock to ears. It is absolutely fantastic. I’m gutted that the volume on my iPod won’t go any higher as all I want to do is crank this bad boy up to 11 and let it blow away anyone daring to get close enough to the headphones.
Following track ‘Lynch Mob’ features vocals from Roger Miret of Agnostic Front. At first the guest vocal is a little jarring against Max Cavalera’s distinctive gutteral growl but after a couple of listens it actually fits well. The guest spot is short-lived though and when Max’s vocals take over they’re considerably better.
First single ‘Killing Inside’ is hardly what you’d call radio friendly, but is closer in kin to more consumable metal like Bullet For My Valentine although it doesn’t actually sound like aforementioned. This sound is completely contradicted by next track ‘Thrasher’ which does its best to live up to its name, especially as it’s just under the three-minute mark.
What I’ve noticed by this point in the album is barely 16 minutes in and it’s already halfway through. It’s gone in a slightly different direction from the debut album dropping the longer solo infused tracks with an overall shorter sharper feel. ‘I Speak Hate’ starts with the usual thrash trappings, but 1 minute in there’s a change of tempo and again at 2 mins. It feels more like Soulfly and has a slower crunchier end.
The album seems to be revelling in reliving old memories. ‘Target’ is classic trash Sepultura whereas the next two tracks have a more Soulfly like pace again. ‘Genghis Khan’ kicks up a gear in its last couple of minutes and has some great guitar showmanship. It’s actually something that’s less common throughout this album with much of the ‘widdly-widdly-squee’ solos being dropped in favour of an overall heavier menacing sound as per the opening licks of ‘Burn Waco’, which includes some good scream backing along with Max’s rawer vocal.
Penultimate track ‘Rasputin’ is almost as in your face as second track ‘Torture’ was although it does have a strange fade out ending that doesn’t work for me considering the extreme pace of the rest of the song. It’s a slightly disappointing ending to an otherwise excellent 2 1/2 minutes. Final track ‘Blunt Force Trauma’ is a great way to top off the album though and also features a longer fade out ending but this time considerably better than ‘Rasputin’.
A complaint I’ve had with Max Cavalera’s other band Soulfly over the years was that tracks would start fast and then settle into a slower middle with a reinvigorated ending. There’s virtually none of that here except noticeably on ‘I Speak Hate’. For the most part the album is like a combination of Slayer, early Sepultura and Soulfly. It doesn’t mean the album doesn’t have its own character; it’s as much uniquely Cavalera Conspiracy as it is hybrid of other bands.
It should be noted that the deluxe edition of the album has three more tracks, ‘Psychosomatic’, ‘Jihad Joe’ and a cover of Black Sabbath’s ‘Electric Funeral’. These are welcome as extras, but I think they would’ve ruined the pacing of the album if they’d all been included. ‘Psychosomatic’ has a slow and lumbering beginning and the Sabbath cover is by its nature also slower paced, at least for the first half. It’s also longer than any other track on the album. ‘Jihad Joe’ would have fit well though, but was likely dropped from the regular edition to keep the overall length short.
The Cavalera brothers are masters of their art and have earned the respect of their peers for the many years they’ve been doing what they’ve been doing. Blunt Force Trauma is a great album and a welcome addition to their combined catalogue. The brotherly bond seems stronger than ever and if this is the result, here’s hoping they don’t fall out again any time soon.