It would be impossible to argue that the thrash scene has not seen a major resurgence in recent years. From classic ‘80s favorites such as Exodus, Overkill, Heathen, and Death Angel releasing monstrous albums, to newer acts like Warbringer and Hatchet blazing a trail on the road and in the studio, thrash has been revitalized. That makes me very happy.
Of course, quality is more important than quantity when it comes to new music. One could, theoretically, view some of the lesser newer acts (in any genre) as riding the coattails of the well-established icons without paying their just dues. Argentina’s Cavador is not such a band. Cavador, by contrast, has been honing their skills and working extremely hard in the South American metal scene since way back in 2001. Led by bassist/vocalist Emanuel “Ema” Salgado, Cavador’s sole remaining original member, the band has been plagued by numerous lineup changes and false starts. It would be tedious to try to detail or even summarize their bio here. But let’s just say that Cavador’s songs have appeared on numerous recordings over the years, including compilations and self-released eps.
Aside from displaying dogged perseverance, Salgado and his various Cavador brethren have been specializing in delivering thrash metal that is as catchy as it is brutal. This should come as no surprise, as the band cites such early influences as Metallica, Megadeth, Rata Blanca, and Testament; the latter Bay-area legends are a clear favorite for Cavador, who covered “Musical Death (a Dirge)” on their debut ep. When listening to the Argentinians, I also hear the more frenzied aggression of an early Slayer or (especially) Exodus, mingling with the straight-ahead, crunchy power of a Kreator. While Salgado and co. will not win many points for originality, their brand of thrash is technically proficient and infectious in the riff department.
First up, we have the Ensayo ep, a live release apparently originally recorded in 2010 but now newly re-released in 2016. Trying to make sense of Cavador’s lineup changes is beyond Spinal-Tap confusing, but the lineup for Ensayo is listed as “Ema” Salgado on bass/vocals, Ezequiel Catalano and Federico Rodriguez on guitars, and Gonzalo Lopez on drums. This five-track ep has its promising moments, with the catchy and intricate riffing being the main highlight. Cavador also knows how to incorporate fluid and gorgeous guitar harmonies in their thrash, full-on Testament/Death Angel style: see tracks like “Colmena de Hierro” and “Prometeran” for reference. Unfortunately, the production value on Ensayo is of a rough “tin can” demo quality, rendering this a difficult listen.
Prohibido Nacer, recorded in 2015, is another story. This professionally-produced ep features musicians from Venezuela, Norway, and Argentina joining Salgado for a blistering set of age-old thrash. All the instruments and vocals sound crystal clear this time around, the guitars sounding appropriate crunchy and biting. The title track is an obvious highlight, showcasing an extra-catchy main riff and guitar harmonies that ooze with Testament-style neo-classicism. “Campo Desolado,” by contrast, is a complex web of galloping sections, full-on speed, heavy groove, and more triumphant harmonize guitar work. Yes, the song itself is also triumphant. The cover of Sodom’s “Ausgebombt” showcases Cavador at their no-frills, double-time, straight-ahead best. “Prohibited Be Born,” the ep’s closer, is a sung-in-English version of the title track. It is only marginally more decipherable than the Spanish version, but it’s still a fun experiment for the band. That brings us to the subject of Salgado’s vocals; they mostly constitute a shrill, raspy shout, and they are certainly an acquired taste. Still, this is thrash, not Euro power metal. The vocals get the job done from a rhythmic standpoint, so let’s leave it at that.
The bottom line: Cavador’s two recent eps leave this thrash fanatic wanting to hear more. For a band that’s been working hard and persevering as long as Cavador has, that’s a good sign. Please give them a shout and listen on Facebook.
--Review by Jonathan Kollnot