|Sepultura's Dante XXI|
I came across a great reference for this album - “Dante in a Modern Context” A Review of Sepultura's Album Dante XXI” by Matthew Teutsch in Latch: A Journal for the Study of the Literary Artifact in Theory, Culture, or History, vol. 1, 2008. The information below is derived from this reference, along with an interview with Derrick Green and Andreas Kisser included.
The album is an abstract soundtrack to Dante's Divine Comedy, meant to “show that many of the same problems that were happening in Dante's time are still happening today in the 21st century”. The album is split into 3 parts: corresponding to Hell (first 6 tracks), Purgatory (tracks 7 to 14), and Paradise (last track). Dante's Hell is “a place devoid of harmony and order, because of its removal from God”. Sepultura's music in Hell contains “breakneck guitar riffs punctuated with driving drums”. As the album progresses from Hell into Purgatory, the tracks become less fierce and more melodious. Purgatory, still heavy, begins to also incorporate more classical brass instruments (i.e., cellos and horns). Dante's Paradise/Heaven is a harmonious “realm filled with order due to the presence of God”. Andreas Kisser wrote, regarding the softer final track “Still Flame”, that “only one song appears for Heaven because I feel we have very far to go before we reach that point”. However, Kisser further noted that all the songs “have hope”, and that “we have to pay attention to the bad things to find a way to improve and to fix our problems”.
A brief summary of the song concepts, as provided in the above reference, is as follows:
Lost (Intro): is a “representation of doubt and confusion that goes on in the head of anyone who has lost a path to follow in life”, and “causes the listener to prepare for something dark and foreboding”.
Dark Wood of Error: regards global politics and correlate with “Dante's dissatisfaction with the corruption and abuse of power from politics”. It also references the three beasts – the beast from the UK, the beast form the US, and the beast from the UN.
Convicted in Life: is written from the “point of a prisoner in life”, where the person was “born convicted and not given the opportunity to change”, and ends up “believing the negativity themselves”.
City of Dis: relates to the “church forcing its will and its way n a person”, and that person “standing for what you believe in, even in suffering the guilt of being punished or condemned”. Also, it argues that individual salvation comes from that individual, not an institution or a God.
False: No comment provided on meaning. IMO, the track appears to be an affront to those who think they “rule all” and “made it all wrong”, and abuse power. “No one will mourn you, no cry will be heard”.
Fighting On: conveys that “although Dante, in leaving Hell, had survived the voyage, the voyage was not over”. As part of the voyage, Dante “learned different aspects about himself that made him stronger”. Also, the “doubt about what was to happen next”, resulted in “despair”.
Limbo (Intro): represents the “actual movement from Hell to Purgatory”, and introduces “the melody changes in Purgatory” and use of classical brass instruments.
Ostia: concerns “Congress, who is supposed to be representatives of the people elected by the people”, but are “faceless representatives” that are “always changing” and “go with whatever advances their own life”.
Buried Woods: is written, from a victim's point of view, “about the priests of today's Catholic church at large abusing their power” and the sexual abuse scandals. The victims end up killing and burying “the words of the priests, their faith, and their beliefs”.
Nuclear Seven: is another song that regards global politics and correlates with “Dante's dissatisfaction with the corruption and abuse of power from politics”. Attacks nuclear weapon proliferation across seven nations with such capabilities.
Repeating the Horror: No comment provided on meaning. IMO, the song appears to show the protagonist moving from “darkness around me” and “walking in bullshit”, to starting something new with “eyes wide open, can't keep them shut”. “Can't go on seeing all of these horrors”.
Eunoe (intro): provides an “atmosphere of cleansing and renewal” via cellos, preparing one for Paradise.
Crown and Miter: is the “culmination of the journey” into Paradise, to this point. Salvation from an “inward realization of one's self but also the respect of other souls that are in our world” - from the individual and not from God. Kisser noted that “our salvation will come with respect to our planet, different cultures, different ways to live and survive” and that “we have to stop forcing people to live under a culture of fear”.
Primium Mobile (Intro): “leads the listener into the final plane with strings and drums”.
Still Flame: is a representation of paradise, this song (and the repeated chant of the word Opia-lymphia) signifies “the type of unity that happens during the Olympic games – different countries and culture coming together not to fight but to compete out of respect for humanity”.