|Those who have survived a car crash will always remember those feelings from the immediate aftermath: anxiety, fear, shock, bewilderment and an overwhelming adrenaline rush igniting all of their senses. When heavy objects collide unexpectedly there are always passengers whose perception of reality undergoes a sudden transformation.
Blunt Force Trauma, the pulverizing new album from Cavalera Conspiracy, is the musical evocation (and possibly even the literal equivalent!) of those sensations. Abrupt, hyper-charged and possessed of some of the fiercest riffage and percussive bombardment of the Brazilian born Cavalera brothers' storied career, it's a sophomore-slump defying declaration that the Cavalera Conspiracy was no mere one-off, fluke or temporary side-project.
"If you liked the first Cavalera Conspiracy album you're going to love this one," promises vocalist / guitarist Max Cavalera. "It's more brutal. It's more in-your-face. 'Blunt force trauma' is the feeling you get when you hear it!"
An invigorating mixture of the speed and aggression of Slayer, the urgency and willpower of seminal hardcore like Minor Threat and the heaviness and musical prowess of Cavalera Conspiracy's Inflikted debut, Blunt Force Trauma is eleven tracks of intense, powerful and jarringly immediate metal with punk attitude and venomous spirit.
Iggor Cavalera's performance is an instant reminder as to why he's long been recognized as a drumming icon in the scene. Stomping, multi-dimensional and full of the rich experiences he's had with a variety of ethnic percussion and within the world of hard-driving and pulse-pounding DJ work, the preeminence of what Max's brother lays down on Blunt Force Trauma is undeniable. Bassist Johny Chow(Fireball Ministry) and lead guitarist Mark Rizzo (Soulfly) have a chance to show off how touring behind the first Cavalera Conspiracy album gelled things as a band.
Max's riffs are as jagged edged, authentic and deliberate as they've been for decades and his lyrics match them in turn as he screams about historical warriors in "Genghis Khan" and a very hard-to-kill Russian in "Rasputin." The album's opener, "Warlord" (which festival audiences got to hear last year), is an immediate call to metal arms.
"Because we had a band that had already played together for so long we were really tight and we really knew where we were going with this album," Max reports. "We just blasted song after song everyday in the studio."
Cavalera Conspiracy was created following a decade long silence between Max and Iggor, the two brothers who formed the legendarily trailblazing heavy metal band Sepultura as teenagers together in 1984. Across six studio albums the Brazilian punishers perfected the art of darkness (look no further than thrash classics like Beneath the Remains and Arise) while exploring the underbelly of third world political issues and broadening the genre's horizons with an exploration of indigenous culture, culminating with the landmark Roots album in 1996.
Max left the band acrimoniously in December of that year and quickly formed Soulfly whose seven albums have garnered worldwide success and acclaim. His brother stayed in Sepultura for a few more albums before splitting himself in January, 2006. A few months later the phone rang. It was Iggor calling Max to set aside the bullshit that had pursued them both in the press during the ten year period since they had last spoken.
Less than two years later the metal world was turned upside by the debut album from Cavalera Conspiracy.
A bold testament to the talent and power these two possess together, Cavalera Conspiracy's debut album saw the brothers joined by Rizzo and Gojira's Joe Duplantier on bass, whose schedule kept him from touring. With Chow now his full-time replacement and producer (and former Soulfly guitarist) Logan Mader at the helm Blunt Force Trauma somehow ups the ante from the already beyond impressive Inflikted. "Logan is really great to record with. He's done some really amazing records with Devildriver and Gojira." Drums were recorded at a studio in Los Angeles called The Lair ("huge doors, accents on the walls; it looked like an old castle") with the rest of the work happening at Mader's Hollywood studio.
With some of the darkest thrash riffery since Sepultura's early bombast on Morbid Visions and Schizophrenia combined with the punk attitude that has always been present (emblematic in the way the brothers have always embraced everything from Black Flag to Agnostic Front, whose singer Roger Miret guests on "Lynch Mob") there's no denying the power and majesty of Cavalera Conspiracy and the magic that inevitably happens when Max and Iggor get together.
"I write riffs all of the time and when I'm writing I don't know if they're going to be for Soulfly or for Cavalera, to tell you the truth. I just write them and put them on a CD," Max says. "But later I listen to the demos and I pick which song is going to go with each because I know by the way of the riff and the rhythm which ones will be better for Iggor to play. I know when I'm listening to which ones will go with Soulfly and which ones will go with Iggor."
At a 2010 festival in Brazil Max was able to hang with Iggor's family, meeting some of his kids for the first time. "I visited his hotel room with his whole family there and saw everybody," he says. "I spend as much time with him as I can. Sometimes on that last tour we'd just go on the back of the bus and just hang out for a couple hours and just talk about our past, our present and our future, you know? It's just really great having him back. And it's really cool that we hear from other people in bands. People tell us they are happy to see me and Iggor back together. That makes me very happy, too."
"It feels amazing to work with my brother Max again. I think this second album solidifies us more as a band and separates us from all this one shot projects," Iggor commented. "After touring all over the globe with Cavalera Conspiracy, it was time to write some new stuff and I am very proud of this release. Blood is thicker than anything!"
Max Cavalera is very forthright about the fact that Cavalera Conspiracy is a metal band. "Cavalera is super metal, it's supposed to be metal, it's not supposed to have anything else but metal and hardcore in it. The new album is even heavier and more aggressive than the first one." While that's all of course true and metal is known to be a very aggressive and sometimes negative genre, there's an overwhelming positivity surrounding the Cavalera story.
"I wanted Cavalera Conspiracy to continue because that's my way of seeing Iggor and playing with Iggor and to continue my music legacy with him," Max says. "It's a perfect time for us. We've been getting along great - really, really awesome. That festival in Brazil for like 100,000 people was one of the best shows I've done in my entire career. It's just killer to play with Iggor again. I really, really enjoy playing with him."