Cavalera Conspiracy is the musical reunion of brothers Max and Igor Cavalera after a decade-long estrangement. Both have moved on from their origins in Sepultura; Max has Soulfly, which continues in the direction of Sepultura's Roots, while Igor has Mixhell, his DJ project. Inflikted is billed as a return to their punk and metal roots, which is true in form but not substance.
In fact, Cavalera Conspiracy sounds like Soulfly's thrashier, heavier side, which arose after Soulfly added Marc Rizzo as a lead guitarist. It also sounds like Nailbomb, Max's industrial thrash project with Fudge Tunnel's Alex Newport. At times, Sepultura's pre-Chaos A.D. thrash comes through, like in the frantic "The Doom of All Fires." There's really not much difference among these sides of Max; his four-stringed riffs are unmistakable. They're solidly kinetic, but post-Sepultura, he's churned out so many that they blur together now.
As with Soulfly, the color comes from Rizzo. He saved Soulfly from nu-metal oblivion, and while his backing here is more robust, his solos and melodies really make the songs. "Nevertrust" would be standard hardcore punk if not for Rizzo's wildly zigzagging leads. In "Ultra-Violent," he pours out death metal-esque dissonance, then rockets into a flurry of triplets that would make Kirk Hammett jealous. Ironically, the plainness of Max's riffs allows Rizzo to take flight with abandon; he's the true star of this record.
Meanwhile, Igor is surprisingly invisible. His drumming is technically perfect – the barrelling double bass in "Hex" recalls the glory days of Arise – but the sterile, high-tech production erases his personality. "Dark Ark" dabbles in his trademark tribal percussion, and "Bloodbrawl" has colorful toms. But otherwise, his sense of groove is gone; he sounds like any other click-tracked machine-gunner today.
Clean and hyper-compressed, Inflikted is the most upscale-sounding record of Max's career. Rizzo's parts are practically mixed in surround sound; Max's vocals go through all kinds of electronic gadgetry. His typically simplistic lyrics ("Never trust society / Never trust the system / Never trust the enemy / Never trust the politricks") would nevertheless have rung true in the gritty settings of Sepultura and Soulfly. Here, he seems to have nothing to say other than, "We're back."