Review Summary: A tired, lifeless effort.
Sepultura will always be known for their thrash metal days, there’s no doubt about that. Consecutive releases Schizophrenia
, Beneath the Remains
, and Arise
were borderline classics, even rivaling the quality of the big-four’s famous albums of the same era. Ever since vocalist/guitarist Max Cavalera left in 1996 however, Sepultura has been pretty hit or miss. It doesn’t have much to do with Cavalera himself per say, considering the band was already on a downhill slope before he quit (Roots
being one of the worst albums I’ve had the misfortune of hearing), but the following albums solidified the death of a legendary band and the rise of a mediocre forgettable one.
continues into their foray into groove metal and fails on almost all accounts. None of the songs are ‘groovy,’ or even catchy. Gone are the blistering riffs of their early days and in their place are weak, boring ones. Yet as lazy as the songwriting is, some credit has to be given to vocalist Derrick Green, Cavalera’s replacement. He had fairly big shoes to fill and while he doesn’t have a great voice by any means, he fit quite well, and someone who knew not of the vocalist change likely wouldn’t notice a difference. His voice is fairly similar to Cavalera’s – not as guttural, but more of a scream/yell crossover, which suits their drastic shift in style. The clean vocals don’t though, adding nothing to the songs they’re in and simply serve as a momentary change of pace from the album’s ever-present monotony.
The biggest crime here is the album length. Upon hearing the first few songs, a full 30-40 minute album of similar material would be tolerable – not remotely close to Sepultura’s potential but not particularly offensive either, at least not like Roots
was. As the album progresses, however, it almost feels as if you’re hearing the same song over and over again. They all follow the same structural patterns, they all feature the same style riffs (sans the minute long ‘Revolt’ which is a stale attempt to capture the ferocity of their early albums), and not one aspect of the music stands out from the rest. Songs like ‘The Ways of Faith’ try to break the album’s dullness by showing a slower, bleak side of Sepultura, but unfortunately the experimental side of the band is just as boring as their heavy side, if not more so. Not to mention the fact that the songs themselves are very repetitive and each about 2 minutes too long, a few of which should’ve been scrapped completely i.e. ‘Tribe to a Nation,’ ‘Saga,’ and ‘Uma Cura’ (Seriously, Sepultura? Nu-metal?). Instrumental closer ‘Valtio’ is the only case of experimentation done right on Nation
, but its placement in the album’s context makes it come across as too little too late.
It’s hard to listen to an album like Nation
and think of how far the mighty have fallen. It’s not a surprise really; it happened to all the big-four thrash metal bands, and thankfully most of them are slowly but surely getting their act together. Sepultura are as well to an extent, Dante XXI
was a decent album, but it doesn’t change the fact that each bands’ mid-period was completely hit and miss – and unfortunately in Sepultura’s case, mostly miss.