Album number thirteen for Brazilian legends Sepultura finds the band still throwing out those deep artistic references; the title of this album refers to a quote from the 1927 movie “Metropolis”, although this isn’t another concept album in the vein of 2006’s “Dante XXI” or 2009’s “A-Lex” (phew!).
The album opens with the brutal thrash of ‘Trauma of War’, a track that could really have come from any of Sepultura‘s post-Max Cavalera albums, although this has a little more clout soundwise as the album was produced by Ross Robinson, the man who produced their seminal ’90’s work “Roots” and also gave Korn a helping hand to rediscover their mojo a couple of years back. But this isn’t a throwback to the nu metal days as the death metal attack of ‘The Vatican’ rumbles forth with some furious guitar work from Andreas Kisser, reminding you of what a phenomenal guitarist he is. New drummer Eloy Casagrande also lays down some serious groove that underpins those brutal rhythms that Sepultura can seemingly throw out at random.
But randomly is how those sections get thrown out as the album moves on, with most of the material having those groove-laden breakdowns or heavy riffs inserted in there somewhere but inserted is how a lot of it feels. As a body of work, it’s ten songs of fearsome thrash metal but without that X factor that made the band so special once upon a time. Songs like ‘The Age of the Atheist’ have riffs and drum fills aplenty that may remind you of Sepultura but in a way that a band like – horror of horrors – Cavalera Conspiracy reminds you of Sepultura.
“The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be the Heart” sees Sepultura putting the right ingredients into the melting pot but what comes out doesn’t quite live up to the sum of its parts. The production is strong, giving the drums a powerful punch and Andreas Kisser‘s guitar a tone and crunch that many death metal bands would sacrifice their grannies for, and Derrick Green‘s vocals get more and more impressive with each album but with regards to the songs there isn’t a great deal to latch on to, meaning that when you turn the music off it doesn’t linger in the memory for very long. It sounds like a bit of a cliché to keep saying it but Sepultura‘s legend was built on those classic ’90’s albums “Arise” and “Chaos A.D.” and taken to its logical extreme on “Roots”, making any tribalisms they may want to add to their music now seem a little incongruous. The level of musicianship in Sepultura is second-to-none and each band member makes their presence felt but under the Sepultura name it’s starting to feel a little laboured and forced.