Brazilian heavy metal behemoths and master architects of thrash metal Sepultura recently released their latest offering, The Mediator Between The Head And Hands Must Be The Heart, to overwhelming critical praise and acclaim. It is their 13th studio release and was inspired by the dystopian themes in the silent film “Metropolis.”
Keeping with the literary and cinematic themes and tones set forth by previous albums Dante XXI and A-Lex, the new album is a statement against the dehumanizing effects of technology. It is also a social commentary on the unfulfilled promises of religion, the aftermath of natural disasters and the ever widening gap between the rich and the struggling working class.
The group has been stuck in the precarious position of having to try to justify themselves on every release since the abrupt departure of Max Cavalera. Tired of living in the shadows of Soulfly and the recent Cavalera Conspiracy, the band have done the legacy proud by releasing a colossal album that stands on its own merit and one that should finally silence the diehards holding out hope that Cavalera will someday return to the fold.
The band has reenlisted the services of producer Ross Robinson, who also produced the band’s landmark breakthrough Roots, to try and recapture that same magic again. Derrick Green, who has really come into his own as frontman and vocalist for the thrash legends had this to say: “The new cd is really sinister, dark and metal as hell!” Guitarist, Andreas Kisser, went on to add “It is brutal, fast and straight to the point.”
Opener “Trauma Of War” drives that point home and is a throwback in sound to the Chaos A.D. and Roots-era Sepultura that sets the tone for the entire album. “The Vatician,” is an ominous, doom-laden track about the hopeless and downtrodden praying for God to come and save them. It is very similar to the last Celtic Frost album, Monotheist, or the latest Ghost B.C. album.
“Impending Doom,” is an ultra-down-tuned beast reminiscent of Gojira and “Manipulation Of Tragedy” is an indictment of human greed and corruption, in the vein of Meshuggah or Mastodon. “Tsunami” is an unapologetically chaotic epic that lives up to its namesake with subtle Slayer overtones.
While “The Bliss Of Ignorants,” is a ranting diatribe against those who choose to ignore human suffering that features a rumbling bass line by Paulo Jr. that is so devastating it is sure to shred your speakers.
“Grief” is a rare moment of vulnerability, punctuated by a brutal chorus. At the same time, “The Age Of The Atheist” is a cacophony of noise that gives way to the razor sharp “Obsessed” which blurs the lines of death and groove metal and features none other than the almighty Dave Lombardo of Slayer on the drum kit.
Closing cover song “Da Lama Ao Caos,” comes off like a heavy metal version of “Rico Suave,” that is loaded with South American flair and tons of tribal percussion with a guitar solo that sounds like Carlos Santana on speed. One of the true highlights, though, is actually the hidden gem that appears out of nowhere about 15 minutes after the final song ends.
It is a drum off between Dave Lombardo and Speultura’s own drumming prodigy Eloy Casagrande. You can almost picture them sitting face to face behind their kits, going head to head and back and forth in your mind’s eye.
It is so mind blowing that you are left wondering why they would hide such a splendiferous treat.
Here’s the bottom line- It took a little while for this incredible band to hit their stride after the departure of the Cavalera brothers, but that is exactly what they have done by releasing an album for the ages that will stand strong into the next millennium.
Fans that have been reluctant to give this all-too-overlooked band a chance may want to reacquaint themselves with Brazil’s biggest export since coffee.