rating icon 9 / 10

Track listing:

01. Insane
02. Terror Tactics
03. Impalement Execution
04. Spectral War
05. Crom
06. Hellfire
07. Judas Pariah
08. Psychosis
09. Excruciating

We're not going to start this review with the unnecessary "us vs. them" preamble. Max and Igor Cavalera are one hundred percent at peace, as brothers and artists, and with their trusted sidearm, Marc Rizzo, IMO one of the greatest guitarists on the planet still failing to be suitably glorified, the CAVALERA CONSPIRACY has already reached album four. While Tony Campos continues to tour with the Cavalera family, and presumably retains a charter membership in SOULFLY, bass duties on CAVALERA CONSPIRACY's 2017 release, "Psychosis", were handled, along with keys and production, by Arthur Rizk. Rizk's contributions are more significant than meets the eye as he helps turn "Psychosis" into an expressionistic nightmare, a good thing.

"Insane", the album opener, doesn't begin to describe the content itself, this being a dynamic shred carnival where it doesn't matter what speed Igor Cavalera commands his team for the whole collective to sparkle. The playing on this song, be it in thrash or mosh modes, is damned perfect, and Marc Rizzo doesn't have to drop a twenty-second solo for it to be, well, insane. You know he's going to deliver on this album, and that comes as early as the intro to the darting "Terror Tactics" thereafter. The velocity is ferocious as Igor drops intermittent tom rolls and Max Cavalera bellows as muscularly as the thrash and punk riffs he's working with. A frankly creepy slowdown to the frenzied pace is a breath-catcher, and setup to a cleverly dropped breakdown to skulk "Terror Tactics" home.

"Impalement Execution" and "Spectral War" may be the closest CAVALERA CONSPIRACY gets to actual SEPULTURA methodology, with the former trouncing a mid-tempo strut before blitzing off. Reverting to a somber march within "Impalement Execution", the echo captured off of Igor's slamming dishes is an impactful tribal-industrial effect. The explosive jackhammers detonating throughout the violent "Spectral War" drop into a "Nomad" reminiscent lurk. The song grows heavier on the pickup without tearing away, and finally, Marc Rizzo is allowed to rip (clever of the band to slowly tease the uber-gifted Rizzo song after song until this point) before a spacey synth mist seeps into the lumbering slog serving up "Crom".

How sweet is it that Marc Rizzo understands Conan culture so much he slings piercing, heroic guitar solos on "Crom", conjuring the sounds of swinging broadswords as the song propels into pulp-slung mayhem? With other metal acts calling themselves both CONAN and CROM, Rizzo's artistry still best captures the din of Cimmerian valor. The song pays off so much a Hyborian narrative emerges, along with a loose nod to Basil Poledouris's stout score to the 1982 film "Conan the Barbarian". It's thus fitting that the Cavaleras tinker with industrial and doom on the disconcerting miasma of "Hellfire" thereafter, which features a cameo from GODFLESH's Justin Broadrick.

"Judas Pariah" is one the fastest and loudest songs any of these performers has uncorked from themselves: it's genuinely frightening. The shredding and Igor Cavalera's gruesome clouting are so severe you almost welcome a skidding to this maniacal avalanche as the song later martyrs Judas Iscariot in haunting fashion at a third of the pace.

While the same group of players in CAVALERA CONSPIRACY (Marc Rizzo at this point likely having his own wing in the family estate) have been grinding out classic SEPULTURA on the band's long-staked "Return to Roots" tour, it's proper that it drops tribal percussion into the instrumental title track. While "Psychosis" is appropriately weird, Arthur Rizk's swirling keys serves the opportunity for the Cavaleras to peer into nooks they haven't yet explored. It's a joy taking the journey with this group, since you know that with one more song to come, and it being titled "Excruciating", the album's finale, is set to be a humdinger. The expected thrash is there, but what you don't see coming is the unexpected tumble into Rizk's coldwave hellhole, armed with a swirling bullroarer and somber keyboards, all set to mystify and enslave. There is no escape from "Excruciating", save to pull yourself out by playing the album again from start.

Heaping loads of Arthur Rizk's audile surrealism around its concussive discharge, theCavalera tribe turns "Psychosis" into a clouting-yet-arresting metal mindfuck.

Author: Ray Van Horn, Jr.
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