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Album Review: CAVALERA CONSPIRACY Morbid Visions / Bestial Devastation

9.5 Reviewer

Most of the time, re-recording a classic album is a terrible mistake, one which can even besmirch the legacy of the original masterwork. Some infamous examples include In Flames' totally needless reworking of Clayman and Gorgoroth's laughably bad update of Under the Sign of Hell. There's nothing worse than a band examining a piece of raw brilliance and thinking: "Hey, why don't we kill what made this album great and produce it like a mainstream rock record? What could possibly go wrong!?"

These two re-recorded Sepultura albums are NOT examples of this mistake. Consider the Cavalera editions of Bestial Devastation and Morbid Visions the ultimate exceptions to the rule. Back in March, I did a long-form feature on both releases in which I declared: "Bestial and Morbid stand on their own as blackened-death metal masterworks that legions of bullet-belted bands now worship. And while a lot of these bands make some fantastic noise, there's nothing quite like the original innovation captured on these records."

And while I stand by that statement, the records also provide fertile ground for updates and remodels. This is especially true of Morbid Visions, as the tinny guitars don't do the riffs justice, and the album deserves a proper death-metal production treatment. As for Bestial Devastation, the proto-black metal EP benefits from its lo-fi aspect, so long as Cavalera kept the atmosphere intact this isn't a huge issue. (Also, it makes solid business sense, as Max and Iggor basically have full publishing rights to this material and don't have to worry about paying out royalties to Andreas or Paulo, since they didn't join until Schizophrenia).

Max and Iggor Cavalera have done an absolutely brilliant job on both releases, preserving the pure, exuberant violence of the 1985 and 1986 originals while giving the music an exciting boost. This is especially true of the guitar tone, which Max absolutely nailed to the cross and bled out for maximum effect. Songs like "War," "Crucifixion" and "Funeral Rites" finally have the explosive power they deserve. Whereas the 1986 versions resemble hot embers, the 2023 tracks are absolutely ablaze.

Additionally, Max's vocals have his modern, characteristic Soulfly bark, but he still has the capacity for higher screams as well. And most importantly, he keeps the reverb cranked up! This maintains the music's cavernous and evil energy while letting it feel bigger and meaner. Meanwhile, Iggor's drums already sounded sick on the original albums, so this is more a matter of clarity and fidelity. Finally, I assume Max fulfilled bass duties here and fills the sound out nicely with some low end that was missing from the '80s renditions.

As I said before, the real beneficiary of this venture is the Morbid Visions material. Still, the new version of Bestial Devastation is pretty rad. Max did a good job dialing the tone from the 1985 guitar work, while tightening it to reflect his decades of experience since then. Likewise, Iggor hones and refines the rhythms in a way that makes the EP feel more like death-thrash than black-thrash. Hey, that's cool too, just different.

But that's not all! We also get two "new" tracks composed of riffs from Sepultura's early days and reborn from the grave: "Sexta Feira 13" and "Burn the Dead." "Sexta Feira" is a straightforward thrashy number that sounds more akin to Soulfly's last few albums pushed through the filter of the early Sepultura albums. It'll definitely get the circle pit going, plus it has cowbell! "Burn the Dead" is absolutely scorching with death metal speed and firepower. Although neither track is a magnum opus, they're a welcome and fun bonus.

If anything, these re-recordings highlight the immense strength of the source material, which deserves wider appeal and recognition. In addition, the care taken to preserve the raw and unpredictable character shows the integrity of the Cavalera brothers and how much they respect their own legacy (and their fans).

Make sure you catch Cavalera at the coming Metal Injection Festival with Testament, Fear Factory, Machine Head, and more! Get all the information here.

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