Review by Jeff Maki
Max and Iggor Cavalera, brothers and founders of the Brazilian metal tribe Sepultura, return with another batch of tunes from their newest incarnation, Cavalera Conspiracy. “Psychosis” is album number four from the conspirators and is the missing link of Sepultura albums between “Arise” and “Chaos A.D.”
You’ve heard many bands say they write and play music for themselves. That’s fine, but is there a problem with a little fan service now and then? Not for Max. The past few years have seen him tour with Iggor on “The Return to Roots,” playing his final album he recorded with Sepultura live in its entirety, and with “Point Blank with Soulfly,” playing the cult classic and sole studio album by Nailbomb live.
“Psychosis” opens with “Insane,” a track remarkably similar to the Sepultura classics “Arise” and “Dead Embryonic Cells.” Hell, somewhere in the lyrics you even hear Max calling back, barking the lyrics:
Cult of none
The blackened sun
Nails are piercing your flesh
Heaven and earth converge
Abortion, embryonic death
After the track finished ripping through my headphones, I was brought back to about 1991, when I probably had just listened to “Infected Voice,” on my Realistic stereo in my bedroom, the closing track of “Arise,” then flipped the CD out and (had it been released) dropped “Psychosis” in. It’s that close.
It’s not that Max is short on ideas or someone broke into his riff vault—each new Soulfly album brings new and different elements on tape. It’s that Max and Iggor genuinely enjoyed the peak of their career with albums like “Beneath the Remains,” “Arise,” “Chaos A.D.” and “Point Blank,” and they still do. Max understands fans of that era clamor to hear albums like those again.
When I interviewed Max in 2009 on his tour bus, ripe with the scent of ganja, we talked extensively about “Roots,” an album many diehards turn their nose up to, but he proudly talked about it and it’s unique album cover like it had just been released yesterday. When I asked him about Nailbomb, his face lit up and there was a twinkle in his eyes, even though at the time he said the band was done. The point is, Max knows the fans want it, and if enough are asking for it, he’ll do it.
”Psychosis” could have ended after “Insane” and it would have been the best Sepultura song in 25 years. Let’s face it, I like those guys (I’ve talked to both Andreas Kisser and Derrick Green, and they were cool as shit), but despite some strong albums, the current incarnation of Sepultura isn’t delivering the goods quite like this.
The riff of “Terror Tactics” immediately brings “Chaos A.D.” material to mind, a pit-inducing, hardcore tune with an end break similar to “Territory.” The subject matter is familiar, also, as Max and company were showing us the unsettling and violent state of the world years ago. The album’s original theme was terrorism until it eventually expanded further.
According to Max, “Impalement Execution” is a “thrasher’s delight” containing six different riffs after each other.
The nickname of the song was ‘Thrasher’s Delight’. Because it was like the legacy of thrash. It was a ‘thrasher’s paradise.’ Six riffs together, one after the other.
He’s right, but as was often the case with early Sepultura, I would consider this more death metal than thrash. It’s without a doubt one of the standouts.
“Spectral War” also takes nods from “Territory” and is equal parts “Arise.” Watch the video below:
By the song title, “Crom” (yes, the same Crom from “Conan the Barbarian”), you would think this would be an epic, medieval doom metal track. As it turns out, Iggor pummels us with a ferocious double bass onslaught, while Max screams the song’s namesake repeatedly.
“Hellfire,” which features a guest appearance by Justin Broderick of industrial metal noise legends Godflesh, brings to mind the two bonus tracks on Nailbomb’s live album, “Proud to Commit Commercial Suicide—“While our Sleep, I Destroy Your World” and “Zero Tolerance”—complete with beats, ear-piercing treble and distortion.
“Judas Pariah” harkens way back to the “Morbid Visions” days, with the guitars running the scales of black metal and Max’s vocals taking a death metal tone. The middle breakdown part isn’t far off from Dimmu Borgir.
The title track of “Psychosis” is an ode to “Roots” or “Kaiowas,” a tribal instrumental. Ironic that the title track of this extreme album is also the most easily listenable song here.
“Excruciating” takes us back to where it began (the album, that is), a thrasher once again bringing to mind “Desperate Cry.” It’s intense, the album ending in unrecognizable distortion afterward. Be sure to stick around for the “post credit” part, acknowledging the boys.
Guitarist Marc Rizzo has played alongside Max through all these years, in Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy and all these anniversary tours. He can adapt to whatever the music requires—in this case, tuning to that prime evil guitar tone Andreas Kisser had on the classic albums. Rizzo’s solos and divebombs slice through your speakers and every now and then send that retro-chill down your spine. There’s certainly extreme material across the many Soulfly albums (particularly the “Enslaved” album), but I’ve never heard him go metal thrashing mad like this.
And Iggor—what can you say? This has to be the same kit he played on “Chaos A.D.”—it just has to be. I always thought he was the best and most innovative drummer back in Sepultura’s heyday. Though many have come and gone since then, he carries these songs like no other. He didn’t seem to be in the forefront in his remaining 10 years in Sepultura following Max’s departure—he is now.
As much of a recreation or throwback “Psychosis” is, there are new ideas to make this album interesting and surprising—it’s not a remastering or remix. (The song titles are different, also.) But as good as this is, it’s still not “Beneath the Remains” or “Chaos A.D.” or “Arise.” Those albums are perfect 10s in my book. So “Psychosis” will have to fall short at “only” a rating of 9.5.
November 17, 2017, Napalm Records