The pandemic has brought us some interesting things to consider, especially in the realm of how it’s being dealt with in the political spheres of the world. Leave it to Max Cavalera of Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy, Killer Be Killed, and ex-Sepultura to document a social commentary of the times by putting together a new project, this time in the form of Go Ahead and Die. Like most of his other projects, he’s joined by the family with his son Igor on bass and vocal duties and Khemmis drummer Zach Coleman.
For a Cavalera record, it’s quite raw and has an almost crust punk/thrash aesthetic with a barrage of riffs and tempo changes occurring on a whim as a backdrop to Max’s steady rhythmic howling. There’s not much in the way of variety, what bursts out of the gate on opener “A Truckload Full of Bodies” is what you’ll get for the next 40 minutes or so. In that regard, it’s difficult to segment the album into relatable chunks as it’s a singular droning monolith of anger. While not exactly a concept album, the tracks are themed around how the Covid-19 pandemic has been handled around the world and the social or political implications that stem from those decisions.
Moving onto the production, It’s extremely clean to its own detriment as the sound aims for an 80’s thrash vibe. The sterility is bang on but for this type of music, it’s too accurate and could have done with a lot more messiness. The best way to describe it would be: This is what a metalhead would think a punk album should sound like and it’s the one area where the album takes a bit of a chance. While not necessarily a bad thing, getting through the album in one sitting and absorbing it all is quite difficult as the variety just isn’t there. The riff and tempo changes do help with that at first though after a while the tracks kind of blend together.
Not many would pick up on this, but I didn’t like the guitar tone. I’m pretty sure it was a Kemper which usually sounds pretty good when set up with a decent profile but the one used here sounds a bit strange and far too scooped.
Credit where it’s due though, Max sounds as fantastic as ever and Igor’s contributions are solid. The standout performances come from Zach Colemans’ drum work that displays a wide berth of punk and thrash influences. The songwriting is competent and the lyrics are intelligent though I would like to have heard a more creative delivery.
I’m pretty sure that the intent of the album was to hit the high watermark with the track “Punisher”. Tremolo riffage, blast beats, low growls and precision time signature changes all in the right places make for a fantastic track, even if the breakdown phaser effect on Maxs’ vocals is a bit out of place.
Overall, “Go Ahead and Die” is a simple record that doesn’t aim to amaze but it doesn’t need to. The raw aggression suits the subject matter well and though it’s not likely to become as well known as other Cavalera offerings, I strongly feel as though the point was to vent frustrations of the current zeitgeist.