Nuclear Blast Records
Words by Greg Walker
Warning: no riffs went unused in the making of this album…
There’s no escaping the need to mention the name, so intrinsically connected they’ll be forever. Sepultura was one of the first metal bands whose explosion in popularity I experienced in real-time.
Having picked up on Metallica during the …And Justice For All days and Slayer around South Of Heaven, living the rise and rise of the Third World Posse through Arise, Chaos A.D., and Roots was something else. No matter on which side of the fence people sit, there’s no denying Max’s impact and legacy in our music. Whether it’s Cavalera Conspiracy’s modern take on thrashy Death Metal and occasional revisiting of classic Sepultura, or Nailbomb’s Industrial stylings, or Soulfly’s early Nu-Metal angle, if Sepultura and Max continue to make good music separated then that’s alright by me. Max has never released anything subpar with his myriad of projects, including the reasonably new Go Ahead And Die.
On their second full length offering Unhealthy Mechanisms, Max and son Igor along with Johnny Valles on drums deliver a Thrash/Death/Crust Punk sound with a modern edge that they’d started with on 2021’s self-titled debut. Max seems to be focused on nostalgia lately, what with the re- recorded Morbid Visions and Bestial Devastation still being fresh in our ears. Go Ahead And Die’s more practical live-in-the-studio feel somewhat betrays the quality and standard of the work, the intention is more precise than may otherwise be apparent on first listen. Overall, the sound has a modern clarity backed up by a heavily echoey vocal reverb, a throwback to the earliest Death and Black Metal recordings. I also want to point out the cover art is also a pleasing throwback to early Grindcore artwork, stark yet striking at the same time.
Wasting no time, we are immediately thrust into the maelstrom that is opener Desert Carnage, the speed and crunchy riffs are a potent mix and no one respects this more than Max. Wailing guitars post chorus are a brief reminder of the chaotic outro to Slayer’s Raining Blood, and eventually the pace gives way to an excellent chugging gallop mid-song. Before stripping back to just bass and percussion, a slow punchy riff lulls before the pummelling finish. Instant fan if track one is anything to go by.
Split Scalp starts with a healthy blast beat over a riff that could be accused of being the rowdy child of Smoke On The Water, morphing into a slower tempo that is an introduction to the mid-tempo verse/pre-chorus, before reverting back to the blast beat. A monster chunk section is the coolest part of the song which altogether is another dynamic mix of different riffs and tempo changes. Perhaps inspired by his own work, title track Unhealthy Mechanisms main opening riff is almost Nailbomb‘s Wasting Away. Resplendent with a thudding riff centre track with really cool guitar floating over it, a squalling solo accents the apocalyptic feel before being hammered until silence. The drumming throughout deserves mention, especially in the last parts of the song, reminding me of Brutal Truth‘s Choice Of A New Generation, that off kilter barely controlled chaos. Drug O-Cop is another track borrowing heavily from the past, boasting a wicked groove that is a heavier Caught In A Mosh interspersed with classic crust punk feel but with a wild 80s ‘heavy metal solo section. It’s a weird mix in theory but comes together well on record.
No fewer than four tracks are set up with howling feedback before breaking right open, another detail that presents “Unhealthy Mechanisms” with a live in the studio personality. “No Easy Way Out” is one of them, a chunky groover that goes through a number of personality changes throughout just like every other track, segueing between rocker, faster Crust Punk, blast beats, and back to thick groove. The unique ending stood out with a heavy door slamming shut. First single “Tumors” also starts with screaming feedback, I absolutely love a brutal rocker and that’s “Tumors” in a nutshell. The slower crusty intro highlights the guitar tone, almost sounding like the classic Gothenburg buzzsaw tone, giving way to the mid-tempo verse before launching into a chorus that utilises a pioneering Death Metal characteristic tone on the chorus guitars. Back and forth this album highlight drops off and picks up pace before dropping off again, seeing us out with a wicked Max chug.
M.D.A. (Most Dangerous Animal) samples an opening monologue describing a heinous crime, followed by the aural equivalent, sprinkled with moments tailor-made for some tasty headbanging. Chasm exploits mid-90s Scandinavian black metal, not least of all in the vocal techniques, interspersed with brief moments of reprieve. Another highlight, at 5:21 it’s the longest track on the album, but surprisingly feels the same as the shorter songs. Cyber Slavery is dripping in more crust punk influence, the post-chorus section reeking of it in tone and style – I wish this section was longer, but it makes you hunger for repeat listens. Blast Zone is a helluva metal song title, I’d expected a relentless blast beat shock & awe approach from start to finish, and although we get a taste of that we are treated to a monster heavy groove, the machine gun double kick intro and paralleled guitars are welcome payoff of expectations.
If his never-ending list of projects weren’t proof enough, Go Ahead And Die is evidence enough that Max may have ADHD, never settling on a single riff or tempo long enough for the listener to lose interest. This project is strong enough to stand alone, and Unhealthy Mechanisms strong enough to be recognised on its own merits amongst Max Cavalera’s extensive discography.