There have been a lot of naysayers since Max and Igor Cavalera left Sepultura and many may have thought that the remaining members of the original line up in guitarist Andreas Kisser and bassist Paulo Jr would have given up the name in the face of them and started over. But they haven’t and with they haven’t and with vocalist Derrick Green and drummer Eloy Casagrande in the fold they have toiled to create their own sound despite it all. Truth is, there have been more Sepultura albums without the Cavalera brothers than there have been with and in “Quadra“, a concept album based on numerology, the number four and its significance as depicted on Quadrivium, which are the four subjects or arts (namely arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy), they have now reached album number fifteen. As with their previous critically acclaimed album “Machine Messiah“, the band went back to Sweden to work with producer Jens Bogren (Between The Buried And Me, Amorphis, Ne Obliviscaris) and “Quadra” is the result…
…the World first heard “Isolation” at Rock In Rio in Brazil as Sepultura took the opportunity to record a music video for the single in front of a huge following. It doesn’t disappoint with an orchestral start and punchy mid section of Thrash riffs second to none as Derrick Green roars about mass incarceration. If being guilty for life sounds this good, then lock the door and throw away the key. Kissers lead work is as impressive as always and by the time the riffs of “Means to an End” appear, you’ll have a smile on your face. This is the work of a rip snorting, metal machine flexing their muscles and they’re just getting warmed up. It’s complex rhythmic driving riffs and power house kit work are tinged with an Asian inspired lead part and when Green roars “Looooosssttt in disbelief, Failed democracy, Lost in misbelief, Filled with hypocrisy“, it brings the politically charged lyrics of the corrupt democracies of today home. Two heavy hitters out of the park and second single “Last Time” steps up to the plate. It’s adorned with a technical lead riff and face melting solo that you might not even associate with Sepultura, it’s that good and by the time it’s frenetic closing gets the circle pit going live, it’s going to be too late because it’s short and as sweet as they come. “Capital Enslavement” sees some at first seemingly introspective lyrics from Green but in truth they’re more of an anthem for the oppressed and downtrodden to rise up an crush everything in their path. An absolute rager, to this point of the album the Brazilian Thrash masters are on top form and Casagrande even throws in a tribal moment like the sprig of mint on your desert.
It’s a this point that you realize how impressive a drummer Casagrande actually is. His grooves and fills drive “Ali” with it’s snake like demonic effects as it gallops through ten to the dozen and you can’t help but thinking that if this line-up had produced an album of this quality 20 years ago, then the critics would leave them alone. But hindsight is a wonderful thing and this line up have clearly grown together as a true force. “Raging Void” has some more Progressive influences to it with a tasteful bass drive accompanying a lead flourish mid song that is something that works really well, but again isn’t what you’d expect from this band. The solo is nothing short of sublime and technical – there is no whammy bar in sight. The group vocal of “It’s longing for more, Why is it just not ever enough?” is a clean enough part and points at society’s current struggles. The Progressive acoustic introduction to “Guardians of Earth” has folk roots and a choir adds majesty before the riffs kick in alongside Green’s barked vocals. It takes the work of the likes of Obscura or Fallujah and wraps them in a Thrash overlay that means you get the best of both Worlds as the styles collide. The results are not only powerful but breath taking. The mid section of the album finishes on “The Pentagram” which offers up a helter skelter of riffs and offers up even more experimentation as the trio of instrumentalists prove once and for all that they have plenty left in the locker. The riffs evolve from the Progressive to the Thrash via a melodic moment and once again a face melter of a technical solo gets delivered which showcases just how much Kisser has evolved himself as a guitarist over the past 20 years or more. The instrumental is so involved and has so much going on in it that there is no space for any vocals even if they wanted any.
Derrick Green offers up his most varied vocals on the album with “Autem” which grows still further and while it has more melodic leaning moments, it is still as sharp as the heaviest material. The biggest surprise is that “Quadra” itself is a 47 second burst of Latin styled acoustic guitar work that while sublime could have easily been extended. The longest song on the album at just shy of 6 minutes, “Agony of Defeat” is a depiction of self doubt that you wouldn’t think a man of Green’s statue would have pulling on his heart strings. Musically it’s the opposing force to the lyrics with bold grooves and a lightning rod solo that conducts the uplifting nature of the music. The orchestral accompaniment adds that sense of epic grandeur and you can’t help but feel that this deserves to be heard on the biggest of stages. “Fear, Pain, Chaos, Suffering” features guest vocalist Emmily Barreto of Far From Alaska fame and she adds the light to the shade of Green’s vocals, their combined harmony parts are stunning as they sing “Lost souls travel free, Lost souls tragedy“. Again one with introspective lyrics as the title suggests, it doesn’t do so in a woe is me way. Instead with the epic nature of the music and it’s early Metallica esq opening, it makes for a stylish finale [8.5/10]
Means to an End
Guardians of Earth
The Pentagram (Instrumental)
Agony of Defeat
Fear, Pain, Chaos, Suffering (ft. Emmily Barreto of Far From Alaska)
“Quadra” by Sepultura is out now via Nuclear Blast