Album Review – Sepultura / Quadra (2020)

A sensational concept album based on Quadrivium embraced by a fusion of Thrash, Groove and Progressive Metal, masterfully crafted by the best Brazilian metal band of all time.

In case you’re form another dimension and haven’t listened to Quadra yet, let me tell you that the fifteenth studio effort by Brazilian Thrash/Groove Metal titans Sepultura is much more than just another metal album. With a concept based on Quadrivium, which are the four subjects or arts (namely arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy), taught after teaching the trivium, Quadra, meaning “four ways” from Latin, is a 12-track album divided into four sections of three songs each. The first being Thrash Metal songs based on the classic Sepultura sound; the second section is inspired by the groove-percussion oriented sound the band explored in Roots; the third part has more progressive songs inspired by the track Iceberg Dances from Machine Messiah, albeit not all are instrumental tracks; and side four features slow-paced and melodic tracks similar to the song Machine Messiah. Add to that the undeniable talent by the band’s four horsemen Derrick Green on vocals, Andreas Kisser on the guitars, Paulo Jr. on bass and Eloy Casagrande on drums, and there you have the band’s most successful record since 1998’s Against.

Recorded and produced by Jens Bogren at Fascination Street Studios in Örebro, Sweden, and featuring a bold artwork by Christiano Menezes from Darkside Books revolving around the meaning of the number four, Quadra is also the Portuguese term for sports court. “We all come from different Quadras. The countries, all nations with their borders and traditions; culture, religions, laws, education and a set of rules where life takes place. Our personalities, what we believe, how we live, how we build societies and relationships, all depends on these set of rules that we grew up with. Concepts of creation, gods, death and ethics. Money, we are enslaved by this concept. Who’s poor and who’s rich, that’s how we measure people and material goods. Regardless of your Quadra you need money to survive, the prime rule to play this game called life. Hence the coin. The coin is forged with the senator skull, who represents the set of rules and laws we live by; the world map on his head delimiting the borders of all nations, imaginary lines separating people by concepts of race and the sacred,” explained Andreas about the concept behind the album art.

Tribal beats and futuristic sounds ignite the brutal and groovy Isolation, an old school Thrash Metal chant with Sepultura’s unique twist, where Derrick already tells us all this album is going to be fantastic through his enraged roars, whereas Means to an End is another ass-kicking, trademark creation by the quartet with the talented Eloy bringing tons of progressiveness and fury to the musicality, while Paulo continues to be precise and groovy as usual on bass. And there’s no sign of slowing down in Last Time, where Derrick and Eloy represent the brutality in the music while Andreas showcases his infinite talent as a shredder as well as with his fantastic solos; and adding primeval elements and beats from the band’s cultural background it’s time for one more round of savagery and groove united in the name of metal in Capital Enslavement, with Andreas slashing his strings beautifully accompanied by the unstoppable Eloy on drums. Back to a more traditional sound blending Thrash, Groove and Progressive Metal, Andreas, Paulo and Eloy generate a bold and reverberating atmosphere in Ali, sounding beyond perfect for Derrick to fire his beastly growls.

Raging Void is a mid-tempo, neck-breaking tune led by Eloy and his pounding drums where Derrick is effectively supported by all backing vocals, while Andreas keep stunning us all with his whimsical guitar. Then  a sensational acoustic intro by Andreas sets the stage for an austere and multi-layered metal feast entitled Guardians of Earth (which has one of the best and most touching official videos of the past decade), with all choirs and orchestrations making the whole song even more impactful and thrilling; followed by The Pentagram, bringing to our ears a classic Death Metal sonority infused with endless progressiveness and rage. Furthermore, Andreas is superb on the guitars as usual, while Paulo brings the groove with his minimalist but precise bass jabs, resulting in an excellent instrumental composition. After that we have Autem, uniting the past, present and perhaps the future of Sepultura by alternating between old school thrashing moments and the obscurity and hatred from Death and even Black Metal. Needless to say, Eloy and Andreas are in absolute sync throughout the entire song, and after the brief but beautiful acoustic intermission Quadra, it’s time for a darker, more introspective side of Derek in Agony of Defeat, where once again all background choirs and orchestrations bring a touch of finesse to the overall result, albeit not as majestic as the rest of the album, though. And last but not least, the delicate, sexy vocals by guest Emmily Barreto make a superb paradox with the raspy growls by Derrick in Fear, Pain, Chaos, Suffering, with the music sounding grim, melodic and vibrant form start to finish, or in other words, a great composition showcasing the band’s endless creativity and passion for heavy music.

After all is said and done, it’s more than fair to give such amazing album of heavy music four of our rating skulls, especially as the album revolves around the various meaning of the number four, right? In addition, in case you haven’t done so yet, I recommend you follow the best and most influential band of the Brazilian metal scene of all time on Facebook and on Instagram, subscribe to their official YouTube channel for more of their unique and heavy-as-hell songs and videos, and of course purchase or stream Quadra by clicking HERE. When Derrick was asked during an interview with BraveWords “Which Sepultura album are you most proud of?”, he replied, “Definitely Quadra. It’s the latest album, and we really worked so hard on it. We have so many different elements from the past that have helped us get to here – where we are at right now. So, without a doubt in my mind, this is the strongest album that we’ve done together. And I’m extremely proud of it.” I guess we must all agree with Derrick that Quadra is hands down the most detailed, diverse and electrifying album of his era fronting Sepultura, raising the flag of Brazilian metal higher and higher for the delight of all of their loyal and diehard fans.

Best moments of the album: Isolation, Capital Enslavement, Guardians of Earth and Fear and Pain, Chaos, Suffering.

Worst moments of the album: Agony of Defeat.

Released in 2020 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Isolation 4:56
2. Means to an End 4:39
3. Last Time 4:27
4. Capital Enslavement 3:40
5. Ali 4:12
6. Raging Void 3:57
7. Guardians of Earth 5:11
8. The Pentagram 5:20
9. Autem 4:06
10. Quadra 0:46
11. Agony of Defeat 5:51
12. Fear, Pain, Chaos, Suffering 4:09

Alive in Brazil Digipack and Earbook bonus disc (recorded live at “Audio” in São Paulo, Brazil on June 20, 2015)
1. Choke 3:46
2. Convicted in Life 3:31
3. Sepulnation 4:41
4. Apes of God 3:22
5. Sepultura Under My Skin 3:45
6. Manipulation of Tragedy 4:19
7. The Vatican 6:34
8. Cut-Throat 2:55

Band members
Derrick Green – lead vocals
Andreas Kisser – guitars
Paulo Jr. – bass
Eloy Casagrande – drums, percussion

Guest musicians
Bruna Zenti – violin
Kadu Fernandes – percussion on “Capital Enslavement”
Renato Zanuto – keyboards, orchestrations on “Isolation”, “Means to an End”, “Capital Enslavement” and “Guardians of Earth”, choir arrangements
Francesco Ferrini – orchestrations on “Last Time” and “Fear, Pain, Chaos, Suffering”
Robertinho Rodrigues – acoustic bass
Chorus Mysticus – choir vocals
Jens Bogren – backing vocals
Paulo Cyrino – effects on “Ali”
Gunnar Misgeld – choir arrangements on “Isolation”, “Last Time”, “Guardians of Earth” and “Agony of Defeat”
Emmily Barreto – female vocals on “Fear, Pain, Chaos, Suffering”

Album Review – Ektomorf / Retribution (2014)

A very good “primitive” album from a relatively new Eastern European Groove/Thrash Metal band.

Rating5

ektomorf_retributionAlthough Retribution is already Ektomorf’s 9th studio album, it’s the first one from this Groove/Thrash Metal Hungarian band founded in 1993 I’ve ever listened to, and to be honest with you I felt really happy to know there are still some new bands in the world doing this more primitive and aggressive type of music, even though it’s not totally original.

I read somewhere that due to the gypsy background from lead singer/founder Zoltán “Zoli” Farkas (he’s from Mezőkovácsháza, a small Hungarian city near the border of Romania), he faced a lot of racism and prejudice that held back Ektomorf from an international career. Fortunately, it seems all this bullshit is being expunged from our society and replaced by wise people willing to listen to good heavy music, no matter where it comes from.

Retribution starts in a very brutal way with the excellent song You Can’t Control Me, whose intro, heavy riffs and constant pounding already remind me of the musicality from Sepultura, Soulfly and even Slipknot. One characteristic found not only in this track, but in the whole album, is Zoli’s pronounced Eastern European accent: it’s not bad though, just different, and ends up adding something more rudimentary or “primeval” to the overall quality of the album.

When I listened to the next track, the groovier Ten Plagues, I immediately thought about Max Cavalera being probably one of Zoli’s biggest idols, as well as Anders Fridén, from Swedish Melodic Death Metal icons In Flames. The following track, Face Your Fear, sounds like a heavy sequence to the previous track, while Escape has a more modern sonority and it’s the closest one to the American Nu Metal. Then comes Who The Fuck Are You, the most Thrash Metal track of Retribution, and probably the one with the angriest lyrics of all too.

The album goes on with Numb And Sick, with its great riffs and the clean vocals from Cris Machado (Ill Niño) complementing Zoli’s guttural, making it one of the best of the album. In my humble opinion, this type of partnership with some established North American bands like Ill Niño is extremely important, as it’s usually what opens the doors in the United States and Canada to bands from different parts of the world, like Ektomorf, something that North America is in desperate need due to the amount of prefabricated junk we have to swallow down every single day while watching TV or listening to the radio here.

ektomorfGetting back to Retribution, Lost And Destroyed is for me the weakest track of the album, mainly due to the lack of violence, while Souls Of Fire is totally based on the music from Sepultura, especially from Against or Sepulnation, with its awesome rampant rythym. Then Ektomorf offer us an excellent and damn heavy version for Verbal Abuse’s I Hate You: although I still prefer the version from my Thrash Metal heroes Slayer, I must admit Zoli and his crew did an astounding job here too. Another very good track is Watch Me, which is even more inspired by Sepultura, more specifically in the song Dusted from the classic album Roots.

The last part of the album has Mass Ignorance, another violent track with great riffs and vocals; Save Me, which is a lot slower than the rest of the album, but as heavy as hell anyway; and  Whisper, a song with a very interesting riff and many music elements from bands such as In Flames and Soilwork. The CD version also contains a bonus track called Collapsed Bridge, a nice semi-acoustic ballad where it’s possible to notice the band’s gypsy influences.

The very inspired album art is also another highlight of Retribution, and again it might be just me but I can see a high influence from Sepultura’s Roots and Against there too. In summary, a very good album from a band not many people know about, and a great step for a band that should gain more respect and grow musically and creatively speaking in their path to success.

Best moments of the album: You Can’t Control Me, Numb And Sick, Souls Of Fire and I Hate You.

Worst moments of the album: Lost And Destroyed and Save Me.

Released in 2014 AFM Records

Track listing
1. You Can’t Control Me 2:15
2. Ten Plagues 3:20
3. Face Your Fear 2:23
4. Escape 3:24
5. Who The Fuck Are You 2:32
6. Numb And Sick (feat. Cris Machado) 2:42
7. Lost And Destroyed 4:09
8. Souls Of Fire 4:26
9. I Hate You (Verbal Abuse cover) 2:08
10. Watch Me 3:23
11. Mass Ignorance 2:42
12. Save Me 2:50
13. Whisper 5:56

CD bonus track
14. Collapsed Bridge 3:07

Band members
Zoltán “Zoli” Farkas – vocals, guitar
Tamás “Tomi” Schrottner – guitar
Szabolcs “Szabi” Murvai – bass
Róbert Jaksa – drums

Guest musicians
Cris Machado – clean vocals on “Numb And Sick”

Album Review – Sepultura / Roots (1996)

“Sepultura do Brasil” changed the world of music with the most creative Thrash Metal album of all time.

Rating2

Sepultura_-_RootsThe year of 1996 was a very special year in my life: it was my last year in high school, I finally turned 18, I was dating the most beautiful girl of the entire school, and in terms of music I saw Maiden live for the first time as well as some other awesome bands such as Helloween, Manowar, The Ramones, and my countrymen from Sepultura. I used to love listening to Beneath the Remains, Arise and Chaos A.D., but they simply blew my mind with the most innovative Thrash Metal album of all time: Roots.

Every relevant Thrash Metal band in the world has at least one unique album that redefined that music genre somehow, like Bonded by Blood from Exodus or Reign in Blood from Slayer. In the case of Sepultura, it was Roots that made them reach the top of the charts and become a reference for all future Thrash Metal bands. There were so many new elements in this album that I could spend hours writing about each one of them, but I’ll focus on the most important one in my opinion, which was Max Cavalera’s voice. He brilliantly turned his voice into a musical instrument, reaching some insane notes and sounding more violent than ever, changing the way many other guttural singers used their voices from that year on. Check out at the end of this post the video for Roots Bloody Roots, Sepultura’s all-time classic, and you’ll be able to see how his voice fully integrates with the other instruments giving a special punch to the whole album.

Sepultura-RootsThe most famous songs from Roots are Roots Bloody Roots, of course, Attittude with its amazing riffs and lyrics, and my least favorite one Ratamahatta (the lyrics don’t make any sense at all, it’s just a bunch of stupid disconnected Brazilian words, with a guest musician that makes me want to vomit just by hearing his name). However, you must pay attention carefully to the rest of the album because there are so many good guitar riffs, lyrics and percussion that will make you listen to Roots non-stop for weeks. You’ll find heavy and violent tracks, such as Straighthate, Spit, Cut-Thorat and Dictatorshit; some songs that were unimaginable for a Thrash Metal band before that like Lookaway (with the crazy Mike Patton as a special guest) and Ambush; and some material that doesn’t even sound Metal, but are extremely important for the album concept: Jasco and Itsári, this one being recorded with an aboriginal tribe in Brazil called the Xavantes. All songs connected, all representing a sad and violent side of Brazil. And the front cover is just amazing, perfectly summarizing the whole album in one single image.

My version of the album (which was probably the one released only in Brazil) had two great covers for Celtic Frost’s Procreation of the Wicked and Sabbath’s Symptom of the Universe, this one also featuring in that good Sabbath tribute called Nativity in Black. If you don’t have these two songs in your version of Roots, you should go after them.

There are very few things that make me proud of being Brazilian, and Sepultura and Roots are part of this “selected” group. This album is so great that it has not only changed Thrash Metal, it has changes music in general. Sepultura do Brasil! Um, dois, três… VAI!

Best moments of the album: Roots Bloody Roots, Attitude, Straighthate and Born Stubborn.

Worst moments of the album: Ratamahatta and Endangered Species.

Released in 1996 Roadrunner Records

Track listing
1. Roots Bloody Root 3:32
2. Attitude 4:15
3. Cut-Throat 2:44
4. Ratamahatta 4:30
5. Breed Apart 4:01
6. Straighthate 5:21
7. Spit 2:45
8. Lookaway 5:26
9. Dusted 4:03
10. Born Stubborn 4:07
11. Jasco (instrumental) 1:57
12. Itsári (instrumental) 4:48
13. Ambush 4:39
14. Endangered Species 5:19
15. Dictatorshit 1:26

Band members
Max Cavalera – vocals, rhythm guitar, 4-string guitar, berimbau
Igor Cavalera – drums, percussion, timbau, djembe
Paulo Jr. – bass guitar, timbau grandé
Andreas Kisser – lead guitar, sitar, backing vocals