Review Summary: A blast from the past with some hope for the future
Numerous bands have gone through stylistic alterations in their musical career, which ultimately leads to fans questioning whether the new material will live up to any music prior to this definitive change of sound.
This bridge between the ‘old’ and ‘new’ may be found after a number of factors: members may depart (like In Flames, Metallica, Iron Maiden and Anthrax), the band might branch out to other genres (Opeth), or the record reflects the era it was released in (Machine Head). For whatever reason, there always seems to be this illusive line in a band’s career that dictates how successful their new music will turn out to be. Doubtless, the question surrounding Sepultura’s 14th album, “Machine Messiah”, will be: “Is it as good as the Max Cavalera era?”
Firstly, this album is easily the best album Sepultura have created that feature Derrick Green’s contributions. The Brazilians cram ample amounts of nostalgia into their 14th album that hearken back to the band’s thrash and death metal roots. ‘Silent Violence’, ‘I Am The Enemy’ and ‘Vandal’s Nest’ are both maelstroms of frantic riffs and Eloy Casagrande’s hyperactive blastbeats. Consequently, the sheer bluntness that each song executes enhances Sepultura’s punk influence, which significantly rose during Green’s enlistment in 1998. Jens Bogren (Amon Amarth, Kreator, Soilwork) also concocts a broad and crisp production that makes these vicious songs appear all the more monstrous.
However, this album isn’t just some blatant effort to return to the band’s origins. Upon hearing “Machine Messiah”, you can tell that the members of Sepultura are comfortable with the altered appearance they made to the band since 1998 and, presently, continue to explore their stylistic capabilities. So many curveballs are thrown around in this album, signalling that the band is pushing themselves to remain significant. ‘Phantom Self’ is a typically jagged groove metal song, with an infectious chorus, while Eastern, symphonic elements stands parallel to the staccato menace Andreas Kisser simultaneously conjures. At times, this fresh progression occasionally sounds alien. The title track is oddly mellow and generally directionless, ‘Cyber God’ has a suitably mechanic djent method, and the wild instrumental track, ‘Iceberg Dances’, twirls around prancing riffs, jittering acoustics and bubbly keyboards. Call it shocking or call it inventive: this is the sound of Sepultura, once again in their career, wildly expanding their traditional sound.
So, is it as good as the Max Cavalera era? The short answer: No. Primarily, this is because every year that passes is another year for the value of Sepultura’s classic albums, “Arise”, “Chaos A.D” and “Beneath the Remains”, has to mature even further. A more reasonable question: How does this album compare to the post-Max era?
“Machine Messiah” is a revitalising reason to continue caring about a band, who were once irrefutably paramount in metal, that many fans have elected to abandon.