Review Summary: WHO (who who who)'s your daddy?
Before becoming the biggest sell-outs this side of Metallica, Sepultura released several towering metallic pillars. Now, while all their pre-1993 releases may kick ass, none kicks quite as much ass as their 1989 masterpiece "Beneath the Remains". One of the most celebrated albums ever among thrashers, this relentless tempest of crushing riffs, blistering solos, blasting drums, and infectious grooves lives up to its reputation and then some. After the acoustic intro allows you some time to breathe, the title track kicks in and sweeps you up into a relentless 42 minute thrill ride.
Now, before I go on, I just want to say that this album does have a low point: the lyrics. They’re not bad, but they’re somewhat limited (with the exception of “Stronger than Hate” written by Atheist’s Kelly Shaefer). It’s not a huge issue, and it’s understandable given the band’s limited grasp of English at the time, but it does stick out a little during repeated listens. Now that that’s out of the way, Let’s get to the good stuff. Max Cavalera is at his peak here delivering ferocious barks that fit the songs’ menacing content. His delivery brings to mind Tom Angelripper of Sodom, and there are even times when this could be mistaken for a Sodom album, but Beneath the Remains luckily has more than its fair share of distinctive elements.
The best thing about this album is the riffs, though. Not content with just giving you your standard speedy thrash riffing, BTR throws you plenty of curve balls. Menacing, dizzying riffs are thrown around left and right, and they all flow smoothly without delving into groove territory. Beneath the Remains’ riffs also hold a quality that is a true rarity in thrash metal. Even with good thrash bands, different riffs are often introduced and then thrown away as quickly as they came, never reappearing. Sepultura, however, seem to have found the perfect balance. BTR has just as many, if not more riffs than the average thrash album, but the band actually allows time for the riffs to establish a presence and sink in. Despite this, the songs still move at an unrelenting pace and no riff is ever repeated long enough to overstay its welcome. Andreas Kisser really outdid himself on this one.
Complementing the superb guitar section is a drummer that really knows his way around a kit. Igor Cavalera’s drumming isn’t quite as fast as some of his peers, but he more than makes up for it in the sheer quality of his beats and fills. You feel every last thump and crash the way few drummers allow you to feel. The drum’s presence is never overpowering, though and never gets in the way of the other instruments. Including the bass which produces a great groove that greatly supplements the overall sound.
The secret to BTR’s success is teamwork. Every member understands that they’re part of a whole and does their very best to fulfill their respective role without trying to show off or outdo their bandmates. It’s a well-oiled machine where every part fits perfectly into place, producing a crushing beast of an album with plenty of replay value. Sepultura has earned every decimal of this perfect 5 score, and have set a standard that is still unsurpassed to this day.