SBR awarded Go Ahead and Die’s 2021 debut a stellar rating and declared that ‘the hybrid between death metal, hardcore and thrash is seldom this good.’ The group’s self-titled record had the feel of a new entity rather than a side project for Max Cavalera to work on during the Covid lockdowns. Much of the praise must go to his son and co-vocalist, Igor Amadeus Cavalera, for bringing in a Terrorizer and Napalm Death angle to the band’s music. It was the album Sepultura should have made instead of the disastrous Roorback LP that came out in 2003. Not one to sit around and wait for things to happen, Max saw the value in continuing Go Ahead and Die, knowing he could pass some of the responsibility onto his son. Unhealthy Mechanism is the result after finding a new drummer, and it delivers more of the same but with no great knockout blow. Indeed, you could argue that it finds a comfort zone like an elite sniper in a theatre of war.
Igor and Max like the same music and cherish the same era when the father was one of the pioneers and the son was still in the cradle. Opener, ‘Desert Carnage’, wastes no time doubling down on the crusty death metal with the gritted teeth of hardcore. Max takes to the microphone as if revisiting the days of Beneath the Remains, except with a better enunciation of English. Close your eyes and it could be a hardcore take on the debut Possessed record. The skank beats and double-kick accents are as realistic as it gets – there’s no manipulation in the digital toolkit here. So be it if the odd chord slide falls out of time by a millisecond. It’s all about the authenticity. ‘Split Scalp’ follows like a hand pushing you up against a fence by the throat. Blast beats and power chords settle on a hardcore knuckle sandwich rather than challenge each other to a mutually assured destruction.
Though Unhealthy Mechanisms does not put a foot wrong, that’s because it’s a well-rehearsed game with a guaranteed favourable outcome. ‘Tumors’ mixes Morgoth with the groove metal of Chaos A.D. and thrives on Igor’s murderous aggression. ‘No Easy Way Out’ is too rough for thrash, too death metal for hardcore, and too punk for the death-thrash hybrid that deserves a better name. Yet all three flavours dyed together produce something close to the old school without cloning it. You can’t fault the energy or consistency of this album, but it doesn’t floor you like the band’s 2021 debut. The violent hardcore-metal concoction on ‘M.D.A. (Most Dangerous Animal)’ is the default setting on this record. It makes you want to throw out your overproduced deathcore albums from ten years ago in search of new pastures in old lands.
Time has come to view Sepultura’s Arise LP from 1991 as a death metal affair rather than the thrash metal saviour it represented at the time. You can hear why when you dig more into Go Ahead and Die’s arsenal. The screeching feedback swells and pondering bass notes in the intro to ‘Chasm’ hint that there might be more to this operation than a celebration of the father’s legacy. Instead, it stretches many muscles to ramp up the action into a frenzy of colourless noise. Some of the songs sound like they assumed their final form in one take. ‘Blast Zone’ fails to live up to its name and limps over the line like a Napalm Death side project. You’ll need to check if ‘Drug-O-Cop’ is a cover of an obscure hardcore song from the late 1980s – it isn’t. In which case, you can appreciate its raw punk ingredients as you would a Discharge song.
Go Ahead and Die’s debut did not feel like a side project; this one does. The way they scale back the Death and Obituary influences in favour of a more straight forward hardcore assault makes you wonder if the father and son duo had enough time to think this album through as they did the first one. Old school Sepultura fans will enjoy it, and so will those that have come to despise the monotony of modern death metal. But would we be singing its praises if its creators were unknown artists?
Release Date: 20/10/2023
Record Label: Nuclear Blast
Standout tracks: Desert Carnage; Drug-O-Cop; Cyber Slavery
Suggested Further Listening: Nervosa – Perpetual Chaos (2021), Inhuman Condition – Fearsick (2022), Avarice – Avarice (2023)