Co-founded in 1984 by brothers Max and Igor Cavalera, Sepultura soon put themselves on the map of the global metal scene with their unique Afro-Brazilian groove metal, as epitomised by the unrivalled albums ‘Chaos A.D.’ and ‘Roots’. But ever since the acrimonious departure of the Cavaleras - in 1996 and then 2006 - the burning question in the metalhead community has been not so much, “Is this the end of Sepultura as we know it?” as, “Will they succeed in carving out a new identity of their own?”
‘Quadra’ has numerous indications that the time is drawing nigh. Their fourth album on prestigious German label Nuclear Blast, the band have returned to the studio with Jens Bogren – a Swedish producer whose CV makes your head spin – and taken on board the sophisticated Pythagorean concept of Quadrivium, a fundamental mathematical principle underpinning society and human nature, that divides the album into four styles of metal: thrash, groove, progressive and symphonic.
No holds barred, ‘Quadra’ launches into nightmarish ‘Isolation’, the onslaught of swirling industrial synths and Andreas Kisser’s raging riffs lead by Derrick Green’s snarling vocals: ‘In the cage, in the cage / You will remain’. The elaborate textures of ‘Autem’ are flawlessly executed and on the instrumental Juggernaut ‘The Pentagram’ the band sounds as tight as they’ve ever been. If it weren’t for the formative albums of the 1990s – Slayer’s ‘Seasons in the Abyss’, Pantera’s ‘Vulgar Display of Power’ and Fear Factory’s ‘Demanufacture’ – that is a sound they could have easily made their own.
The closest ‘Quadra’ comes to breaking new ground and entering unclaimed territory is the dramatic metamorphosis of Green’s voice during the nostalgic nu-metal hymn ‘Agony of Defeat’, not to mention the superb acoustic intro and the profane chorus of ‘Guardians of Earth’. More crucially, the samba drum-kit of ‘Capital Enslavement’ and the syncopated beat on ‘Raging Void’ shows that the idea of exploring percussive possibilities is slowly growing on them. Eloy Casagrande has proven his mettle as a highly creative drummer adept at Maracatu, Axé and other traditional rhythms waiting to be let loose.
Who’s to say it won’t be Green and Casagrande leading Sepultura to the future?
Words: Eero Holi
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