Review Summary: An OK album by itself, but when compared to earlier albums like Beneath the Remains and Arise, listening to this is like walking in on your parents having a Furry BDSM orgy: it’s not good.
In an attempt to expand their musical horizons and try something different, former Thrash-kings Sepultura put the brakes on their music and experimented with slower, groove-focused riffs on their album “Chaos A.D.” While there were hints of experimentation on “Arise”, the band expanded on these hints for A.D., adding Brazilian percussion in many of the songs, and their attempts were a success in many peoples’ eyes, except mine.
Listening to the first track of this album, “Refuse/Resist”, it’s instantly apparent that the band drastically lowered their speed. While some songs are somewhat faster than others, none of them get to the speed of “Arise” or “Beneath the Remains”, which is a bit saddening. It’s like if you had a father who was a prize fighting boxer/terrorist hunter who could rip the spine out of a grizzly bear with one hand, and you admired him your whole life, but one day he gets into a fight with a man in a pink bunny suit and loses. You can’t look at him the same way. Listening to the one thrash band that was faster than Slayer play slow, groove-laden riffs is simply heartbreaking.
Another drastic change comes in the form of Max Cavalera’s vocal delivery. Gone is the dark, brooding, and slightly evil tone in his growls. Instead, Max gives us a hardcore shout which sounds like he forgot the words to each of the songs, and it’s much weaker than his older vocal style. With this comes added effects, such as the echo on “Territory”, and these prove more annoying than interesting.
But, before I say this album blows, let’s take an honest look at the songs. The first track is probably the best on this album. “Refuse/Resist” starts with a death metal-ish riff that’s pretty catchy, but I’m still saddened that the song isn’t at the breakneck speed of their earlier albums. The solo is pretty good, though. Territory has some good drumming, but nothing special. The weakness on Max’s vocals is more present here. There’s nothing special about “Slave New World”, but “Amen” has a cool bass into and an interesting break towards the middle. “Propaganda” is okay, but they padded the end of the song with a breakdown-ish section, which just drags the song longer than necessary.
“Kaiowas” is supposedly the album’s landmark song, one that they play live all the time, but it’s boring. The first forty-five seconds of the song sounds like the band trying to get their guitars in tune. After that, the song’s okay, but still boring. I can appreciate them trying to incorporate Brazilian music into their album, but this just doesn’t work. If you have the re-release version with the bonus tracks, the demo version of this song is much better because there’s no forty-five second intro.
“Biotech is Godzilla” is probably the fastest and shortest song on the album, showing heavy influences in hardcore punk. The only good thing to come out of hardcore punk is thrash metal, but it’s a nice throwback to their earlier genre. After “Biotech” we get another song with a loud, annoying siren and “We Who are Not as Others.” This song is fantastic, but it’s ruined by Max’s vocals halfway through the song. Instead of leaving it an instrumental, or adding some original lyrics, they went the lazy way and had Max shout the song’s title about a thousand times in case you forgot it. The bass riff at the end is pretty cool, though.
After that, we get a cover of “The Hunt” originally by New Model Army, an English punk rock band. I’ve never heard of them before, but, like Orgasmatron, Sepultura does a good job making their cover sound better than the original. The album ends with “Clenched Fist” which is a boring song. There is a fast part, but it just makes me wish I was listening to something else. There’s an extended breakdown towards the end, like the album refuses to finish but knows it has to do so, but I couldn’t stand anymore and I shut off the song.
If you don’t have the re-release version, you’re not missing much. “Chaos B.C.” is just a techno remix of “Refuse/Resist” which makes me angry. You also get the “Kaiowas” demo, and some live tracks, nothing special. Unlike “Arise”, which had good bonus tracks, these are lackluster, just like this entire album.
So, are there any redeeming qualities to this album? Well, the drumming is still top notch, even if they slowed it down a lot. Also, the bass can finally be heard. There are a lot of bass drops, and the bass riffs are pretty interesting. That’s just about it, though. The guitar riffs are lame, boring, and too slow for this band. The band basically bukkaked themselves with suck with this album,even though the mainstream found this as their best effort. I think of this album as a gateway drug. Sepultura made this album as a test to see how people would react to their change in music style. Since everyone enjoyed it, they decided to continue down their experimental path with “Roots”. Perhaps if people realized how bad this album was, Sepultura wouldn’t have changed their focus to alt. metal / groove metal, and who knows what else what greatness would have come from this album? Instead, we got an alt. metal / groove metal album, Max Cavalera left the band, and Sepultura mired in obscurity for the rest of their days. It’s sad to see such greatness drawn and quartered.
This album is not as great as everyone thinks. It’s an O.K album, but compared with “Arise” and “Beneath the Remains” it doesn’t hold a candle. If this is your first foray into Sepultura, stay away. Stay far away from this thing. Just like Metallica, the earlier albums of this band are much better than the later ones. Think of this as the “Black Album” of Sepultura: it’s okay, but it only leads to more bull***. There’s much better out there, folks.