Review : CAVALERA CONSPIRACY – "Blunt Force Trauma"

Cavalera ConspiracyBlunt Force Trauma
Release: 2011Mar29 (US)
Label: Roadrunner
Rating: 3/5

Sepultura. It’s likely where most of us became acquainted with the Cavalera brothers—Igor’s thrash-cum-tribal drumming and Max’s unmistakable throat complimented by his vicious rhythmic riffs. They were not only one of the reasons I loved heavy music as a teenager, but they also helped me appreciate incorporating native sounds from around the world into Metal. I have been on both sides of the fence during the siblings’ decade-long split, and was curious about the Cavalera Conspiracy reunion project. I was okay with 2008’s Inflickted, and even though I heard similarities on Soulfly‘s Conquer later that year, once Omen came out, I thought they were more strongly defining their own path, which I hoped would make for a better CC release. Consider that ball dropped.

All three of the aforementioned bands are (re)integrating thrash into their attack, some better than others, but there is more at play with both Sepultura and Soulfly. The former is maintaining a greater level of artistry, as their last two albums have been inspired by classic and modern literature; the latter draws its strength from the core of the band itself, who have grown increasingly comfortable with each other over the last four albums. I’m not sure how the addition of Fireball Ministry‘s Johny Chow affected the songwriting this time around, or if Gojira‘s Joe Duplantier factored heavily on their debut, but I gather a sense of stultifying confusion across most of their sophomore set.

I really don’t get the fucking history lesson in the second half. We go back 800 years to touch on the Mongolian warlord (“Genghis Khan”), fast forward to the 1993 Waco siege (“Burn Waco”), then backpedal to the turn of the 20th century for Max’s take on the mad monk (“Rasputin”). They’re okay tunes, maybe a little half-baked, but “Burn Waco” is truly incendiary, and contains Mark Rizzo’s best guitar solo here. However, this endlessly restated fact remains: these lyrics are terrible, and they mar the music as a whole.

So I was listening to Demonic—one of my favorite Testament albums as I finished this review (don’t worry, CC got about a dozen spins prior), when I realized something. Here is another bunch of dudes that endured lineup changes and/or internal strife, have strong thrash roots, and on this album, also composed songs of both personal betterment and historical references (in fact, that’s how they start the divisive album—with the title track and “The Burning Times”, respectively). In terms of the actual words used, Chuck Billy and Max Cavalera are on the same lyrical level, but their arrangement and delivery could not be further apart; where Chuck unleashed his most evil performance to date, Max merely maintains status quo.

And it’s so damn repetitive. The video-driven “Killing Inside” first drew my attention to this; “Thrasher” does no better (“Thrasher—master of disaster/Thrasher—faster and faster”…and it gets worse from there); but “I Speak Hate” is the worst offender. It’s one of the best songs, musically, on Blunt Force Trauma, but the word “hate” is dropped some 40x, unnecessarily. Imagine how much stronger the chorus would be if “I speak hate/Do you understand?/I speak hate” was not mushed in, instead going for a slow, throaty “III…SPEEEAK…HAAATE!”. The backup vocals have the right idea on the outro. As a side note, Roger Miret (Agnostic Front) is not the right idea for guest vocals on “Lynch Mob”—his contributions feel cobbled together.

I’m not feeling Blunt Force Trauma, folks… there’s barely an bruise. Cavalera Conspiracy should sound more different than Soulfly, and there is simply not enough to distinguish the band. Maybe a different guy on lead guitar would help separate the two groups (sorry Mark, I really do like your work!). Just give us a reason to believe this is more than a cash-in.

FCC: 2
Try 1, 9, 11

01. Warlord
02. Torture
03. Lynch Mob (feat. Roger Miret)
04. Killing Inside
05. Thrasher
06. I Speak Hate
07. Target
08. Genghis Khan
09. Burn Waco
10. Rasputin
11. Blunt Force Trauma

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