Morbid Visions

Nuclear Blast
rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. Morbid Visions
02. Mayhem
03. Troops Of Doom
04. War
05. Crucifixion
06. Show Me The Wrath
07. Funeral Rites
08. Empire Of The Damned
09. Burn The Dead *New*

The Cavalera brothers, Max and Igor a.k.a. Iggor, are among the most recognizable and renowned figures in heavy metal history. SEPULTURA, the enduring band they co-founded but parted ways with years ago, is clearly the most globally known South American metal export. Max has of course remained in the spotlight more so than Iggor with his long-running groove metal outfit SOULFLY, but the musical reunion of the two in 2007 has made waves. Known as CAVALERA CONSPIRACY, the brothers focused on new studio material with a hearty portion of SEPULTURA classics peppered into their live sets. Now operating under the abbreviated moniker CAVALERA, the brothers look back to their earliest of days with the re-recording of their seminal 1985 EP "Bestial Devastation" and the subsequent 1986 debut full-length "Morbid Visions".

The brothers decided to rekindle their initial work to celebrate what they did so long ago, but as Iggor has stated, he feels that those old recordings failed to grasp the essence and energy of the songs as they were performed back then. The title track explodes out of the gates. It's absolutely belligerent. Max has expressed that he wanted to capture the power of those songs with the capabilities of contemporary metal production without losing the vital raw element. The title cut is spacious, full and beefy, and Max's voice drips with reverb in the beautiful way that was so typical of eighties extreme metal.

It is phenomenal to hear the songs with modern production sensibilities performed by their creators, musicians who have naturally matured and evolved over time. And yes, the rawness of those great songs is maintained. But the magic of "Morbid Visions"'s original recording was rooted in its bare-bones nature. As such, the 1986 recording is far superior because it's exponentially more primitive and viler. The band has admitted that they didn't even properly tune their instruments back then, and since they were still learning English at the time, the lyrics were translated word-for-word with the aid of a dictionary. And in the mid-eighties, the bright-eyed, bushy-tailed young Brazilians were exploring darker, mystical, pseudo-Satanic themes rather than the sociopolitical subject matter they'd go on to adopt later. They were in many ways at the forefront of bestial black metal and black thrash in those early days before morphing toward thrash, death metal, groove metal and beyond.

The brothers admirably pay respect to that old, charming youthful curiosity and period of discovery, but they don't match the power of the initial recordings. In fairness, it simply can't be done. The elementary opening riffs on both "Troops Of Doom" and "Show Me The Wrath" are far too crisp and clear, somewhat defanging the unhinged nature inherent to the original songs.

This isn't to say that the re-recordings are irrelevant. They serve to remind how important that oftentimes underappreciated era was, and the production aesthetics do impressively balance a robust sound with a coarse edge that most of today's metal releases completely lack. The details and nuances of the songs are much more audible now. Where the modernity of the re-recording really wins is with the evil death metal riffing on "Crucifixion", which is significantly more biting and aggressive. And near the end of "War", embedded within manic eighties-era SLAYER-worship, there's an ever-so-brief moment on the re-recording where the brothers simultaneously embrace their (ahem) roots — pun intended — while also showcasing their growth toward groove metal.

A compelling add-on featured at the end of the re-recording, as with the re-recorded version of "Bestial Devastation", is a new track built upon riffs from those times. "Burn The Dead" is relentless with death metal abrasion that's delivered with a punk attitude and a barrage of blast beats. At the end of the day, the re-recording of "Morbid Visions" isn't nearly as potent and rabid as the original. But, again, it's fantastic that the Cavalera brothers are breathing new life into their earliest work, which has been unfortunately overlooked by many.

Author: Jay H. Gorania
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