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Sepultura

And Not a Single Fruit Covered Hat in the Entire History of the Band

 
Introduction
Morbid Visions/ Bestial Devastation
Schizophrenia
Beneath the Remains
Arise
Chaos A.D.
Roots
The Roots of Sepultura
Blood Rooted

I don't trust thrash metal. Dig? I don't know all the genres and subgenres of metal after say, 1983, and don't pretend to. I know a little bit about the history of all this newfangled hard stuff, but I'm not a sage on the matter. Why? Honestly I don't like a lot of it. I think a lot of later metal is inbred adolescent crap. I mean, you can only play so fast, so loud, so hard, have so many tempo changes, do that 'devil voice' only so low....you get my point? After awhile it all really begins to sound alike, and I don't care about your 'I Am Evil' 'The World is Shit' 'Devil Will Rise' lyrics, either. Your philosophy doesn't interest me in the least. Provide me with more than some breakneck speed and kickass riffing to get me moving. Provide me with a catchy riff, a hook, a beat.  In short, all of this new metal crap, and all its myriad subgenres, sums up as being one adolescent escapist self-defense reaction from a world that the average metal fan is not mentally or emotionally capable of succeeding in.

But Hey! Lighten up, guy! I like what I like! I hear an inventive, smart, original metal band like Sepultura and I bounce like a cretin, get me? I forget all of my prejudices against metal, especially Death Metal (ooh! scary!), towards which lot of the band's early work is directed (but for some reason is never considered part of, wonder why? I dunno 'cos I plead ignorance of the categorization techniques of the modern metal fan. Ask me about the British Invasion. I could kick butt there.) Sepultura is an exception the size of no other exception. First off, they actually started out in a place that knows a thing or two about repression, at least a bit more repressed than the 'faceless suburbs of America' (wah!). They grew up under the dictatorship that ruled Brazil until the mid- 80's, a government that made banning 'unsafe' records and violating free speech part of its everyday policy. Needless to say, a band as extreme as Sepultura had to skrimp and scratch to find albums by Iron Maiden and Slayer, then play the hell out of them and learn every note. Sometimes difficult circumstances add quite a bit to artistic expression, and Sepultura is a prime example. Finally a group who has a right to be pissed off at the world, a group that doesn't come across as a bunch of whiny children when they protest. If only Rage Against the Machine had this much sincerity. They wouldn't suck as bad. And second, they aren't stuck in one groove all the time. They're albums are interesting and all over the place. A lot of stylistic mixing, a lot of invention. Third, the singer is cool when he devel-screams 'Uno Dos Tres Quatro!' to start a live song. That's rad! He sings real well in English, too. Got the best 'Extreme Metal' voice I think I've ever heard.

Of course, the band wasn't always that good, and also of course they had internal strife, the lead singer left and blah blah blah. They're still much better than Korn. Much less later Metallica.

And anyway, it's cool to say you like a group from Brazil. The only other one I know is Os Mutantes. How many groups do you know from there. And no cheating. I see you looking it up in the AMG record guide. Little cheater.


Morbid Visions - Bestial Devastation - Roadrunner 1991

Their first two Brazilian records made way back when they were just another hardcore death metal band from Sao Paulo. Of course, when the band broke with Beneath the Remains and Arise they went back to their old tape vault and dragged this out and packed it on one CD for easy purchase. It's certainly awfully recorded, real plastic-y sounding drums, but it get's the point across. That singer can sure belch like a demon toad with a face full of firecrackers, yes chile! And though some of the record begins to make me itch after awhile (too much metal! aagh! Bring me Nursery Cryme on a silver platter on the double!), they kick enough ass here and there to make it worthwhile if you happen to be a big disciple of death metal. They certainly don't register on the 'Suck' meter at all. They're all real dextrous players, and a lot of those guitar solos remind me of Greg Ginn more than, say, some dude from Judas Priest so I guess they were into old hardcore punk back then too.

Hey, guy! Its a genre exercise. The way they change the lyrics to the song 'Antichrist' to 'Anti-Cop' at the end of the record is classic. I love songs that denigrate cops, especially when I get burglarized and call up the Russian militsia and no one ever shows up! That's grand!

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Schizophrenia - Roadrunner 1987


Much better recording than Morbid Beasties, and a lot more focused as well, but is it as much fun? I guess losing whatever connection there ever was to hardcore punk came at a cost. Unfortunately, though, this album isn't quite neck wrenchingly 400 pound defensive guard hard enough to make me forget they used to be capable of making fun of cops. And are the songs distinguishable from one another? Nah, not really. In fact they don't gain that ability for quite awhile. But! The 'Psycho' bit at the beginning is classic, and the 'uno dos tres quatros' to be heard are just hilarious.

Hey! It's less-than-earth-shattering death metal with all the tempo changes and stuff. You might just love it, but I'll go back to my Roxy Music records, thanks.

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Beneath the Remains - Roadrunner 1989.

Faster than a gramma to a bingo house and hotter than a marathoner's buttcrack. They're certainly learning their lessons, that's for sure. Definitely death-metal now, all the hardcore punk trappings are gone completely. The frigged up guitar solos aren't though! And that drummer, Igor Cavalera, is a MANIAC. He must be one of the best metal drummers, but I can't be sure of that 'cos I've never heard your Celtic Frosts or your Iced Earths or any of those. But he sure sounds aces to me...fast as hardcore but 3 times as precise. And those guitars, well they sure can play them fast, and thankfully they still sound like actual guitars (you know, with tone and everything) and not totally messed up with 'really heavy crunch' (read, low, but plasticky crap) distortion and whatnot. They seem to be happy with the straight-ahead speed asskicking on this record rather than doing a lot of instrumental 'illustrative' bits. Oh sure, there's an acoustic intro here and a slow, soaring part there, a short bass solo stuck up in this slightly gamey orifice (let me mention the clean guitar cameo on 'Mass Hypnosis', followed by a really great lyrical guitar solo as a particular highlight), but for the most part it's 10 million miles per second all the time. And it's exciting!

I sure can't follow what that guy Max Cavalera's saying at all, though. I mean, I guess something titled 'Stronger than Hate' has something to do with shoving bananas in the tailpipes of two crazily out-of-touch undercover cops, but you wouldn't know by what lyrics one is able to make out.  I don't know if I really have the patience to listen too closely anyway. His 'demon' voice is pretty decent, but you know, I get all the feeling I need from the music anyway. Primarily the drumming. The words sound mostly like variations on the Ian McKaye-ish 'Why is the world so fucked up?' theme, anyway. Maybe if my life totally sucked I would find reason to look more deeply, but as it is I get a lot more of a charge from the 'chudadadadadadadadadadadadadadada' than some guy talking about how we're all slaves. I had a few years of rebellion and radical political thought back there a ways, but after growing up a bit and realizing life is okay if you keep your head down, eyes open, and your thoughts clear. I'm happy to stay in my little rubber dinghy of personal isolationism, thanks.

Anyway, the final word is that this is one clean, gleaming black slab of death metal. It's played flawlessly and with lots of invention (within reason of course), and I can even remember some of the melodies. I guarantee you it will kick your ass within 90 days or I will refund double your money back for visiting my site. And since my site is free, suck my Max Cavalera.

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Arise - Roadrunner 1991.

Lookit. It's Beneath the Remains II: Over That Way, Stuck Under the Seeping Piece of Liver. Simple as that. Same energy, same songwriting, same everything. Okay, you twisted my arm. It's slightly slower tempoed and more focused on creating melody than Remains was, but I really don't think it's any lighter at all. Actually, if anything, I think it's better. Aggh! It's Metal,for god's sac! How much do you have to describe it? It's recorded really well also!

It kicks my ass too. If you like thrash metal, go for it. You won't be disappointed. It's about as good as it gets, and after this they just were never the same again.

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Chaos A.D.  - Roadrunner 1993.

Wow. Blastoff. A completely new direction for Sep and I think it's spectacular. Though I dug the crap out of Beneath and Arise, it certainly felt about time to add a little spice to the pudding, a few razors to the toothbrush, a couple of hairs up the butt, so Sepultura was only all so happy to oblige. They take chances left and right on this disc and fuck the fans if they don't get it. Some examples: Slower tempos (now just north of your usual 90's metal ala Metallica's Black Album, but light-years heavier and more metallic than all that ass monkey).  This is a lot more industrial influenced, but not in that 'clank clank' sort of way. It uses a lot of inventive guitar textures I personally have never heard in this context before. Some tribal drumming here, some drill-sounding guitar effect there, and a LOT more prog influence. No, Bill Bruford isn't drumming and Rick Wakeman has left his cape home, but can you dig those cool tempo and textural changes of something like 'Propaganda' or 'Nomad' without understanding a little bit of what prog was all about? Or how the voice clips on 'Manifest' remind me so much of a metal Pink Floyd The Wall? Or the real anthemic opening part of 'Who Are Not As Others', I get more than a little 'proggy' sort of vibe from that one too. I'm willing to admit I'm asking you to make a huge psychological leap you may not be willing to take, but if you are a fan of prog at all, and wish to make the jump into the bad, bad world of modern heavy metal, I suggest you start here. It also helps if you dig some wicked percussion, 'cos that's all over this disc as well.

And an ACOUSTIC INSTRUMENTAL! Wow! And its rules! Called 'Kaiowa' and you can be sure it bothers a few old fans more than just a little bit. Jello Biafra's 'Biotech is Godzilla' is the only real barn burner on this record speed-wise (and real short, too), but jesus god its crazy fast and has a frigged-up guitar solo that AAGGH! No adjectives! No verbs! It simply kicked the words out of my head! What a song!

Listen, this album is not speed metal, not thrash, and not death metal. Its 90's metal, but not of the sort you see on MTV or your local crap 'hard 'n' heavy' radio station. As I said before, fans of the old Sepultura might well be turned off for good and slunk back to their Napalm Death for comfort, grumbling about how 'another one sold out'. But how can you sell out when you come across as angrier, more frigged up, and scarier than before? Yeah, 'The Hunt' is sort of cheesy, but it's cheesy in an Iron Maiden way, so how is that selling out exactly? And, well, the techno-super-dance mix of 'Chaos B.C.' sucks my scrot. It's bad. Except for the native percussion, that can stay.

A lot of this album has a real energizing, stand up and say 'yeah!' quality to it that a lot of thrash metal (including early Sepultura) failed to ever achieve. There's so much going on in every track to hang on to, beit sound effects, weird percussion, some cool noise that I never get bored with this record, not even once. And some of the songs are simply masterpieces. As a modern metal album, it's spectacular.

 

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Roots - Roadrunner 1996.

Eesh, this is nothing like Chaos A.D., and I sure can't say it's any good. This is late 90's metal in all it's awful, sub Korn-ness. It's slow, has sing songy lyrics, 'funky' beats, and lots of dumb melody-less detuned grinding. I mean, what happened? The native percussion is still around. In fact it's all over this thing and is by far the most interesting part of it. The rest seriously strikes me as being heavily influenced by Korn. Why the fuck are these songs all so slow and grindy? The slow parts should be about 10 seconds in the middle of a song that goes spine-shatteringly fast the rest of the time, to build the tension, you know... Metal's GOT to have velocity to it, and this has almost none. It's all just a bunch of these stupid 'mosh' parts slapped together. And there's no hooks either! Some of the noise guitar solos are interesting, maybe. And I'm almost crying at the fact that the best song on the record is 'Rahamahatta', a call and response track with the tribal drummers and what sounds like Jonathan Davis doing his 'Gobakkachewbaccaweekawacka' Pac-Man impression he does. But I don't think it's him, because the AMG guide says he only guests on one track and he co-writes 'Look Away' later on in the album.  Ahh! I don't care! This album is extremely long, extremely pretentious, and really bad. And those stupid tribal jams are about the best things on here!

I'm not just the hugest fan of Death metal, but that stuff is so far beyond this in quality, songwriting, and feeling that all I can do is shake my head at the big-droopy-pants our formerly great Sepultura has fitted for themselves. Sorry guys.

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VB     Your Rating: D+
Any Short Comments?: This is a major letdown for Sepultura.  Probably one of the most important influences on nu-metal... thanks, guys!

Oh, and I disagree with your assertion that metal needs to have velocity... thrash/speed/death metal, yes, but not necessarily doom metal.  What about Black Sabbath?  They aren't exactly renowned for their speed, and they're probably the best metal band ever.

 

Sam     Your Rating: D
Any Short Comments?: Yep. This album is awful. Chaos AD was great, but then THIS? Why?

Max was controlling the band by this point and the result is a seventy minute long temper tantrum over some distorted, badly produced powerchords. The only track with alright lyrics was, I think 'Dusted' but the riff was so generic that any good points about the song were
soon forgotten.

Roots Bloody Roots is a good song, and Straighthate at least sounds angry and catchy enough to merit its inclusion, but the rest of the album's awful.... I almost laughed at some points at how bad and generic it was.

I haven't listened to this album much, but I don't have any inclination to really. Just rubbish.

 


The Roots Of Sepultura - Road Runner 1997.

Covers / greatest hits / unreleased tracks / live tracks album. You may have trouble finding it because it was Promo-only, but raid your local CD Warehouse and you may just get lucky. Also the very, very last you'll ever hear of the good ol' thrashy, vibrate your teeth Sepultura. Contains a cool version of Motorhead's 'Orgasmatron', which rocks really hard and makes me wish this band had done more stuff in this wide-open heavy riffing genre than they did, because they're good at it. Contains a ton and a half of versions of your favorite tracks like 'Dead Embryonic Cells' and a live version 'Necromancer' recorded in the club bathroom. Early outtakes with Portuguese names like 'A Hora E A Ves Do Cabelo Nasce' (strangely, it's sung in English, though) kick ass in a neato Venom kind of way. And 'Drug Me' is great hardcore punk like I haven't heard in a long time! And it's got 'Anticop'! And no songs off that shitfest called Roots! Well done, gentlemen!

Maybe after 70 minutes of this it might begin to sound all the same, but hey, guy! Its a fine compilation and I can say damn near all of it rocks.

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Blood Rooted - Road Runner 1997.

Another rarities/covers/live tracks album, but this one is in wide release so you'll see it all over God's green earth, while Roots of Sepultura you'll only find in Russian bootleg markets. While Roots of Sepultura was more of a Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy, this one is Odds and Sods. And yeah, unfortunately it does draw a lot of tracks that take their sound from that godawful Roots album (a remix of 'Look Away' for example, or 'War' which isn't so bad, maybe). But not too much! Most of this is from the straight ahead thrash death grind ass metal of Remains and Arise we all agree rules the school lunch room and all the hoagie rolls that go with it. Let me say that the hardcore pogo of 'Policia' may be my favorite track by this band. You know what? Whenever this band leaves a song titled in their native Portuguese, it almost always fucking kills. Crushes my ear canal between two huge sledgehammers of fire and Vaseline. Oh, and they cover 'Symptom of the Universe' by Black Sabbath and make a grand bashing good time of it. And man, that drummer Igor rules. At least when he's not doing funk bullshit, that is (like 'Mine', which sounds just like some stupid Nine Inch Nails song)(Except for the funk bullshit on 'Symptom of the Universe', which rules). Confused yet? Don't be! If you like Sepultura and can stand some Roots-era crapola, buy it! I'm gonna knock it a point for relying a bit too much on that Korn-ish material, but you know what to do.

Buy the albums from 1989-1993 first, then pick this up.

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