Review Summary: Sepultura make the important steps out of their state of stagnation, finally arriving upon some creativity that has helped them to not live entirely in the shadow of the Max-era.
It's fair to say that Sepultura is possibly one of the bands that have had one of the worst runs since their glory days in the 90s. It's not as though those glory days were always particularly good anyway; Roots
certainly lacked the sophistication of their earlier works and was a move towards a more nu-metally sound, and thus the step down in quality to that of Against
, while disappointing, wasn't too jarring. Since then the band hasn't really made too much progress, pretty much only managing to release acceptable quality releases at best, with Dante XXI
being their most notable, which is inherently sad since both of those releases were completely uninteresting outside of the former's concept. It thus comes as a surprise to see the band make a large step towards their prior form and release an album that is easily superior to Roots
, if still not their earlier releases.
A lot of what made Sepultura's prior releases since Roots
less than desirable lay in a lack of the prior thrashy aggression, or often instead a tendency to linger very heavily on repetitive riffs that really didn't serve to the band's favour. In many ways, that has been rectified here. The band sound as heavy and groovy as ever, but they've finally managed to return to faster tempo riffing, even bordering on the death metal styles that they've shied away from for a long time; the band also sounds far more aggressive here than even some of their work before Roots, thanks to a rather loose sounding production job that is either a bit of a turn off or something that furthers the much more desirable sound of the album.
Of course, these changes could have been executed terribly, and here's where the point of contention will most likely lie in regards to the quality of this album. A notable issue with their more recent releases was that the aggression used usually came down to the band sounding simply rather dumb, instead of malevolent and uncontrollable like their earlier releases. This is something that is mostly dealt with here. Despite a lot of moments more akin to groove metal on the album, such as The Bliss Of Ignorants
, the band manages to make it sound a lot more focused and effective than for a long time before. The continued use of some of the more recent experimental aspects of the band doesn't benefit the sound too much, but it doesn't really detract from the quality present, and the more direct, thrashy numbers such as The Vatican
help to keep the energy up.
Sepultura still have a lot of work to do if they intend to match their classic efforts that ended with Chaos A.D.
, but those seeking something different from their last few albums will be pleased with the greater offering of thrash aggression here, and those who doubted the band since Roots might finally find themselves forced to reconsider their judgement of Sepultura's capabilities.