Cavalera Conspiracy – Psychosis [Album Review]

Psychosis‘ is the fourth studio album by Cavalera Conspiracy.  The hype leading up to its release suggested that this record was going to be very reminiscent of old school Sepultura albums like ‘Arise‘ and ‘Schizophrenia.’  As a longtime fan of Sepultura since I first discovered them back in the late eighties, and subsequent fan of Max Cavalera projects – Nailbomb, Soulfly, and now Cavalera Conspiracy – I was very much looking forward to hearing an album that was going to bring back those early Sepultura death/thrash sounds.

This is going to be a generally positive album review.  Overall, I do enjoy a lot of things about this record.  It’s a good album – heavy, thrashy, and violent – all the things you would want and expect from a Cavalera Brothers’ project.  The main thing that prevents this album from being exceptional rather than just good, however, is the production.  The problem is that everything sounds drenched in reverb to the point of clouding a lot of the clarity.  The vocals and drums in particular sound like they are echoing from a distance, rather than right up in your face where they could be much more crushing and powerful.

Production choices aside, the songs themselves are solid.  The first track and first single of the album is “Insane.”  This one is a classic, fast-paced thrasher with a cool breakdown in the middle during which Max spews vicious lines like, “abortion, embryonic death” with intense ferocity.  It’s the perfect opener for what’s to follow.

Lyrically, Cavalera has never been known for being truly poignant or poetic.  This holds true again with ‘Psychosis.’  While the lyrics here are nothing amazing, they aren’t terrible either – which is really all you want with metal anyway.  As long as the lyrics aren’t overtly bad in a way that distracts from the music itself, then it’s a success.  ‘Psychosis’ achieves this.

cc1Terror Tactics” is the second track and starts off with a similar tempo as the first one.  The riffing and vocal patterns here are reminiscent of old school Sepultura, with elements of ‘Schizophrenia’ and ‘Arise’ coming through as promised.

Impalement Execution” comes in with a more mid-tempo, groove-metal pacing, then picks back up to speed-metal thrashiness again by the midpoint.  The song goes through a few interesting transitions and tempo changes with some nice solos by Marc Rizzo thrown in.  Some additional atmospherics via keyboards are included as well.

Spectral War” is a smorgasbord of badass riffage and transitions.  Definitely one of the best songs of the album.  The, “from the gates of Hell…” section is one of the sickest moments and it’s a shame it wasn’t repeated again later in the song.  It ends with a melodic guitar solo followed by some more atmospheric keyboards.

Other highlights include “Hellfire” and “Judas Pariah.”  “Hellfire” is very reminiscent of Nailbomb, with an industrial-influenced sound.  It’s easily one of the more experimental songs of the album, complete with gunshot sound effects, and fuzzy, lo-fi guitar and drum tones.  “Judas Pariah” is relentlessly fast and intense with an impressive chorus that has Max screaming, “Judas Pariah!” so fast that it may as well be one syllable.

The song “Psychosis” is a slower-paced instrumental.  While not as epic or memorable as “Kaiowas” from ‘Chaos AD,’ this song suffers primarily from poor production.  It has somewhat of a proggy, Tool-esque vibe to it but the drums are severely understated in the mix, which is a shame because Igor displays some great drumming here with potential to really shine through as something powerful and exciting, yet instead falls flat.  The same is true of the guitars which sound muddy and overly distorted from too many effects and keyboards overlapping.

Overall, this is a solid metal album and worth listening to.  For those who are fans of Max & Igor Cavalera projects, this release will certainly be enjoyable.  The music, while nothing truly innovating or new here, showcases yet again the musicianship and masterfulness of what these veterans do best while also taking a trip down the memory lane of influences they have created throughout the history of metal.  Disappointing production aside, this is an album I plan to keep in my playlist for a while.

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