Sunday, February 15, 2009

Cavalera Conspiracy – Inflikted

‘Terrorize’ opens with a set of snorted declarations – notes about the self, notes for the self – Max Cavalera spitting bile-drenched epitaphs to the body:

‘I am the poison and cure,
I am the fire of doom,
I am the ghost and dust,
I am death from above.’

Uttered in venomous rapture, the lyrics subside and in strides a gargantuan riff. A chunky power groove, heaving with each beat blasted behind it. A simple, no-frills quake of guitars fills the lyric-less void before Cavalera’s noisome bark returns:

‘I am the jungle rot,
I am the sufferer,
I am the juggernaut,
I am death from below.’

A repeat of the former groove appears and then gives way to a melodic burst of shred-guitar backed by a rapidly firing rhythm sound. Song structures are cut up by quick alternation between growled syllables and thick eruptions of blistering guitars. The style is laid out on the first track, a mission statement written in an onslaught of metal. The remit is unambiguous: Your face will be torn in two, clawed off by a furious sonic attack. There is no resting place, there is no slowdown, forward motion is the only option, death to mediocrity, death to tranquillity – this is Inflikted.

It’s the big reunion of the Cavalera brothers, sibling gods brought together once more under the auspices of metal. The founders of Sepultura, having not spoken to each other in ten years, have finally seen fit to end their long dispute. Conversation killed at last the terrible familial rift that had separated them for such a time. The cure was talk, the aftermath is Cavalera Conspiracy. Joined by Marc Rizzo on lead guitar and Joe Duplantier on bass, the brothers got down to writing and recording new material, their first collaborative body of work since Roots in 1996.

Despite the happy melodrama that underpins the creation of Inflikted, the music here is angry. The mood powers forward in black, infuriation spilling out relentlessly from each song. Pissed off, enraged, an atmosphere drenched in anger acts as a foreground and a background.

‘My hostility,
My sanctuary.’

Hostility reigns. Sanctuary is the home, the container of each sonic attack compiled in the eleven track masterpiece. The riffs rip through everything, all lies numbed or shredded in their wake. The drums are a battery in constant blaze. Tracks scowl, move from fast to faster – trenchant displays of blinding rhythm attack.

Lyrics are so frequently a way to make political statements, to offer social critique, to polemise. They offer an avenue through which to dream, to implore, to eulogise. Lyrics are also implements of atmosphere. Cavalera’s vocal expectorate is but another notch of ambience alongside the wall of guitars and drums, a further level on the endless strata of generous musical punishment supplied by Inflikted. It’s the materiality of his growl that matters. Staccato screams of vicious words weave in and out of songs, adorning a web of intricate musicianship. Sure, meaning clings to the words, connotations are not absent, etymology is not dead. But form matters, as does style. What is spoken is the poetic void. Sounds as jagged and as splintered as the guitars are beckoned forth from Cavalera’s throat. They sweep forward in a wash of refusals, dancing in the rejection of any systematic poetics. ‘Nevertrust’ provides an inventory of persons and concepts we ought not to trust; to this we can add the signified, the fluff that the word points to. All I can hear is the unison of voice and instrument, the majestic venom of Inflikted.

The witness offers a reminder: one should not use such superfluous words in reviewing an album that is so anti-superfluity, so lacking in pointless digressions, so single-minded and determined in its mission to kill the needless. As the final song intones, ‘Must kill, must kill, must kill…’ Not an ounce of the prolix is to be found on Inflikted. No masturbatory descents into musical self-indulgence. Only the destruction of the gap between music and listener, only the angry aesthetics that flood the gap and bind music and listener together in grand bodily harmony – that is what Inflikted is.


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