Cavalera Conspiracy Pandemonium 01There is a car parked in my neighborhood that has Sepultura, Soulfly and Cavalera Conspiracy stickers on the back window. I see it every day, and I can’t help but feel bad for whoever the owner is. Not just because he probably has a closet full of urban-camo shorts, but because he has been holding out on a lost cause. Sepultura has spent nearly 20 years producing terrible music, and don’t even get me started on SoulflyCavalera Conspiracy was supposed to fill the void somehow, but sadly, they seemed content to wallow in pedestrian 00’s-style metal, offering only the occasional flash of brilliance. Still, some fans hold out hope that reuniting estranged brothers Max and Igor Cavalera — arguably the architects of the Sepultura sound — would somehow rekindle the long-lost greatness of years past.

At least in theory, Pandemonium is that album. Nearly all the songs are thrashtastically fast, and references to post-Korn metal styles are thankfully kept to a minimum. The production is deliberately shitty and reverb-drenched, and Max Cavalera’s voice reaches guttural depths unheard since the early Sepultura days. Sounds promising, right?

Opener “Babylonian Pandemonium” kicks things off fast and furious, with a downtuned Arise-style riff and a chorus so buttheaded that only Max Cavalera could sing it with a straight face (hint: yell the word “Babylonian,” then “pandemonium,” repeat four times). “Banzai Kamikaze” is an even more blatant throwback, with genuine thrash riffs and Igor’s pounding drums. “I, Barbarian” is somewhat more punk rock, with shades of Nailbomb (side note: Max missed a golden opportunity to use “I, Barbarian” as the title of his autobiography).

Cavalera Conspiracy Pandemonium 02New bassist Nate Newton (Converge/Doomriders) shares lead vocals with Max on “The Crucible,” which is buried towards the end of the album. Igor’s EDM and techno fascination crops up occasionally, mostly in between-song interludes, but most notably in the bulk of “Apex Predator.” The only other surprise is the flamenco-industrial closer “Porrao”, which feels out of place after an album’s worth of brutality, but would’ve been right at home on the last Soulfly album, which was oddly lacking in the Latin music department.

Despite his insane level of technical skill at guitar, Marc Rizzo’s presence is probably my biggest issue with this record. Everything he plays sounds like A) a video game, B) a guitar instructional VHS tape, or C) Soulfly. This record should have no room for any of those things. Given Max and Igor’s stated intent of being “raw,” “old-school,” “grindcore,” etc., finding someone who actually fit those qualities should’ve been their first priority. Morbid Visions would’ve sounded stupid with Joe Satriani on it, and likewise, this album calls for far uglier lead guitar than Rizzo can deliver.

Pandemonium‘s other issue is that it suffers from some extremely predictable songwriting. Almost all these tracks have the same structure. There’s a solo, then Max shouts the title of the song 4 times, then there’s a breakdown and another solo, etc. If they’d gone old school and done an 8-or-9 track album of this, they would have achieved maximum effectiveness, but as usual with Max-related projects, this album’s about 15-20 minutes too long. Also, I wish the production put Igor’s drums more up front. The man is a fucking force of nature, with one of the most distinctive styles in all of metal, and I want to hear more of that (and less of Rizzo).

Cavalera Conspiracy Pandemonium 03

Pandemonium is the third Sepultura-related album I’ve reviewed in the past year or so. AMG undoubtedly sent it my way in the hopes that I would mock it relentlessly, and I hate to let him down. But despite its flaws, this record is one of the better things that either Cavalera has done in a while, and I enjoyed it much more than I expected to. These guys may not be breaking new ground, or even expending a whole lot of effort, but they sound like they’re having fun being as heavy as possible, and that’s gotta count for something.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Napalm Records
Websites: CavaleraConspiracyOfficial | Facebook.com/CavaleraConspiracy
Release Dates: EU: 2014.11.03 | NA: 11.04.2014

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  • JL

    Funny review and entertaining as usual but I’ve got to say it is a travesty of historical proportions that you rated this coaster above Z2 :-) .

    Do you guys have a copy of the new Arctic Sleep record? You should check it out and review it because it’s really, really good.

    • Christian P

      Holy shit…….thanks for this!

    • Fisting_Andrew_Golota

      There is a bit of relativity at play here — I expect better from Devin Townsend. I expect nothing from Max Cavalera.
      If Arctic Sleep and/or their label will send us promo, then maybe we can review it. If not, I’ll check it out either way. Thanks for the tip!

      • Joaquim Ghirotti

        “I expect better from Devin Townsend. I expect nothing from Max Cavalera.” That’s why your reviews are unprofessional and full of shit.

        • Fisting_Andrew_Golota

          Took you 3 months to come up with that, eh?

  • A wee bit Nailbomb-y.

  • Doomdeathrosh

    somehow i can’t take the album cover seriously…..

  • jebwallabingbong

    After reading the review it sounded like this warranted no more than a 2.0/5.0 so I was very surprised with the score. I still maintain that Max’s best post sepultura work is soulfly’s Enslaved record and sadly this record isnt changing my opinion anytime soon

    • Fisting_Andrew_Golota

      My score was right on the fence between 2.5 and 3. I was just surprised that the album was as decent as it is. If 2.75 was an option, I’d have done that.

  • Here’s Johnny

    Seems like you were just out to mock them(and the rest) at the start but then at the end of review said you enjoyed it, so gave it a decent score. Don’t understand that at all. I’m not the only one surprised by the end of the review.

    Soulfly have been releasing great stuff since Dark Ages in 2005(but still cannot shake off the ‘Soulfly sucks cause they are nu-metal’ tag) by people who obviously have not listened to those records. They only listened to the nu-metal stuff and hated it since then, even though Soulfly sound nothing like that now. Marc Rizzo is a fantastic guitarist, i’m not sure why you are criticising him on this one. ‘Insane level of playing’ but it sounds like ‘a video game’ or ‘instructional video’, huh? He elevates all the records he plays on in my opinion.

    Saying Sepultura has spent 20 years creating awful music is a bit harsh. The first couple of albums without the Cavalera’s were good and i liked Dante XXI and Kairos. They should call it a day though, the last album was very average and the sales have dropped dramatically. They are still very popular in their homeland and the new live DVD looks awesome.

    Cavelara Conspiracy’s first album was great, 2nd not as great and i have still to hear this album in it’s entirety.

    • Fisting_Andrew_Golota

      I would’ve mocked these guys no matter how good the album is. Max Cavalera is practically begging to be made fun of, and as a writer, I can’t pass that up.

      I never said Soulfly sucks because they are nu-metal. They suck because they follow trends, write shitty songs, and are generally corny as hell. Whether their post-“Dark Ages” stuff is “good” or not is a matter of opinion.

      My point about Rizzo is that no matter how good he is technically, I don’t think he fits this band/album. His playing tends to color the material heavily, and his level of chops detracts from the heaviness in my opinion. If technique was the only important thing about music, we’d all be listening to Michael Angelo Batio exclusively. (I also think having Rizzo in both CC and Soulfly is a little redundant, but that’s another issue).

      And for the record, I really liked Dante XXI. I agree with you that they should call it a day though.

      • Here’s Johnny

        Well if you are talking trends, mocking Soulfly seems the trendy thing to do for years(from a lot of people who can’t see past those pre-2005 albums).

        Since Dark Ages they added a lot of death/thrash metal in, especially on Enslaved. I really can’t see how that is following trends. Listening to Soulfly(or CC) these days is just like listening to what Sepultura would sound like with the Cavalera brothers still in(ie, far better than the present Sepultura). After 2005 i don’t think they have released a bad album. Maybe before that time they were corny with the nu-metal moves/clothing/songs but not since then. They mostly abandoned all those trappings, just like Machine Head have done.

        Well what you think of Rizzo is just your opinion too. For me he doesn’t over do things at all. He has more talent that he is clearly not showing playing in CC and Soulfly.

        • Fisting_Andrew_Golota

          My personal viewpoint is that coming back to thrash/death metal after the early 2000’s WAS a trend. So many bands abandoned the heavy stuff during the ’90s, and only returned once it was commercially “safe” to do so. That includes Max/Soulfly, Machine Head, even Metallica with “Death Magnetic.”

          Having said that: the stuff I (or any other AMG writer) say in a review is just one opinion, and of course you’re welcome to disagree. No one person is the final authority on metal, except for Manowar of course.

          • Here’s Johnny

            Slayer went a bit nu metal too, with Diabolus in Musica. There was so many doing the same back then, Kreator and their goth metal album, Megadeth – Risk. Who was sticking to their guns back then?

            Sometimes Max gets it in the neck a bit unfairly in my opinion as at least those early Soulfly albums were unabashedly nu-metal/experimental and not pretending to be anything other than that.

            In my opinion Soulfly have been good since Dark Ages or i wouldn’t listen to them, as i hate nu-metal. I’ve enjoyed the CC albums too. I’m not sure why you expect so little of Max since those nu-metal days are well behind and he gave you so many Sepultura classics.

            I love them but Manowar are not even the final authority on their own brain cells. I saw this story recently:

            “I saw Manowar on their first tour when they opened for Pat Travers and Ted Nugent in 1982. Before the show, one of their roadies came out and was talking to me (why he chose me I don’t know; I was a stupid 16 year old), but he was telling me how DeMaio was a “master” and how he had trained himself to cut himself with a sword but could “will” himself not to bleed. I got no sense of irony or humor from this guy when he was talking to me. He assured me the band was the real thing.”

          • Fisting_Andrew_Golota

            You’re right — nobody stuck to their guns in the ’90s except Testament. We have a feature on AMG called “’90s Metal Weirdness,” devoted to mocking all the bands that grew dreadlocks and started rapping.
            And yeah, Manowar are idiots.

          • Joaquim Ghirotti

            1. New metal is good. Yes. Deftones have good albums Korn too. Let me put it this way: Roots, Slipknot and the first Korn album are better and more important THAN ANY ULTRA BRUTAL DEATH METAL album of the last 10 years. OR black metal, for that matter.

            FACE IT. ACCEPT IT. LEARN IT.

            2. “It was a trend” – go fuck yourself you idiot. Max HELPED invent thrash, death and black metal. He can play it, go back and out of it. as much as he wants. What a teenage dork with no knowledge of music history.

          • Fisting_Andrew_Golota

            1. You’re wrong. Nu metal is overwhelmingly not good.
            2. This “teenage dork” has been listening to metal for over 20 years. Max can go do whatever the fuck he wants…but so can I.

  • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

    He also missed the chance to have “Max Shouts the Title of the Song Four Times: From Sepultura to Soulfly and Beyond” as his autobiography’s title. I’m interested in checking this out thanks to this review, but the whole “Max Made the Album Too Long: From Sepultura to Soulfly and Beyond” issue makes me not want to pick it up.

  • Jack Tors

    Reviewer obviously hasn’t heard much Soulfly. There is nothign nu metal about Dark Ages, Conquer, Enslaved, and even the new one. Not much nu metal about any of the Cavalera Conspiracy records. This new Cavalera Conspiracy is raw and fast. It’s not amazing but it’s exactly what Max wanted to do and I would give it a solid 3.4/4 out of 5.

  • FutureBeyondSatan

    I went into this with limited expectations due to the years of audial abuse from Max and Co. (Still awaiting another “Back to the Primitive” moment, no doubt).
    This might be the best flow yet. I have been thoroughly entertained. Highly recommended!

  • Joaquim Ghirotti

    “There is a guy with a Cavalera Conspiracy sticker in a car that I see, and I pity him because he doesn’t have my taste”

    What a shit review made by an adolescent.

    • Keep it friendly and argue without attacking people or you’ll be added to the blacklist. And you might want to reconsider defending nu-metal so strongly.

      • Joaquim Ghirotti

        Or I might not. It’s a genre who had immense commercial and cultural success. Accept it. The end.

        • Fisting_Andrew_Golota

          Mr. Druhm, I suspect we are being trolled. Don’t encourage him.