Four their fourth album as Cavalera Conspiracy, brothers Max and Iggor offer something that is both familiar, and at times, unpredictable. With nine songs clocking in at 41 minutes, Psychosis is a welcome addition to the audio libraries of those who hold Sepultura’s Arise and Beneath the Remains close to their black hearts. Yes, it harkens back to their thrash metal roots, but it also has a enough of the present pulsing through its veins that it doesn’t sound like a half-hearted attempt to recapture past glory.
Produced by Arthur Rizk, who also produced this years’ excellent Power Trip album, Nightmare Logic, Psychosis is a raw, minimal collection of songs that pulls together the Cavalera brothers three-decade history in metal. By minimal, I mean concise. There’s no needless meandering in the songs; rather, each song aims straight for the jugular and scoffs at any unnecessary bridges, codas, or solos. The results are exceedingly satisfying. There’s no dicking around with expectations of what the name “Cavalera” may bring. Despite the tribal image of the album cover – and the fact the brothers have just toured a retrospective of Sepultura’s Roots LP – there’s very little of that sound here. Instead, this album is a straight up neck-wrecker.
Songs like “Insane,” “Terror Tactics,” and “Judas Pariah” have a classic thrash metal sound, whereas the behemoth “Impalement Execution” and “Spectral War” take unforeseen shifts in tempo and tone. While political angst fuels many of the tracks, “Crom” – inspired by Conan the Barbarian – doesn’t take itself too seriously, yet seriously kicks your ass. Godflesh’s Justin Broadrick provides vocals on “Hellfire,” which sounds like the perfect union of classic Sepultura and Godflesh. It’s a dense, heavy track that will make even the most jaded listener stand at attention. Beneath the instruments, synths, didgeridoo, and a jaw-harp percolate under the core instruments adding a depth to the tracks, not a distraction.
Psychosis is one of the best metal albums of the year. Shunning the prospect of delivering a paint-by-numbers metal album, the Cavalera brothers, and lead guitarist Marc Rizzo, have gone above and beyond to create a complex album that is deceptively simple. After each listen, a different song stands out among the others. Once you think you’ve figured this album out, another layer emerges to confound your assumptions.
– J. Kevin Lynch