Friday 1 November 2013

Sepultura - The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be The Heart (Album Review)



Album Type : Full Length
Date Released : 25.10.2013
Label : Nuclear Blast

The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be The Heart, track listing :

1. Trauma Of War 3:45
2. The Vatican 6:33
3. Impending Doom 4:15
4. Manipulation Of Tragedy 4:16
5. Tsunami 5:10
6. The Bliss Of Ignorants 4:51
7. Grief 5:34
8. The Age Of The Atheist 4:19
9. Obsessed 3:53
10. Da Lama Ao Caos 4:28

The Band :

Derrick Green | Lead Vocals
Andreas Kisser | Guitars
Paulo Jr. | Bass
Eloy Casagrande | Drums  

Review :

Sepultura either ceased to exist in 1997 or evolved into a very different but no less excellent band, depending on your viewpoint. For me, it took a couple of albums but with Roorback Derrick Green established himself as front man of high calibre. Sepultura don't make albums like Arise any more, but then again they stopped doing that with... Arise, in 1991. They have been evolving ever since and putting out high quality and thoughtfully left field releases (Roorback, Dante XXI, A-Lex, Kairos) for a decade.

Down to business: the new one (ridiculously lengthy title aside) is more straightforward than Dante but more progressive than, say, Kairos. The record, inspired by the 1927 film “Metropolis”, explores the consequences of the mechanisation of society/human beings. It is not a concept record exactly, but it explores a unifying theme. Perhaps to go along with this, the record was recorded onto tape- hiss and all- with no click tracks, no computer trickery etc. What you hear is what the band play- and they play phenomenally well. Check out the performance of Eloy Casagrande on drums- he is the Seps' third drummer and stamps his personality all over the record. At 22 he is an incredible talent- blessed with technical ability and feel. Insane.

Trauma of War answers the opening bell with fury and precision. The beautiful intro to The Vatican gives way to a masterful piece of metal and is followed swiftly by Impending Doom, which explores slower tempos and allows the production to really shine. Even on a fairly low quality stereo you can hear everything; bass, guitar, drums, percussion and vocals all have room in the mix.  Producer Ross Robinson, he of Roots and other much worse metal albums fame, returns and does a sterling job. Seps regular Steve Evetts mixes and comes up with a brilliantly balanced and unique sound. Andreas Kisser has a unique tone- murky yet precise in approach- and it is captured very well here.

Manipulation of Tragedy features an incredible drum track and excellent riffing- almost death metal but at slow tempos (think early 90's Morbid Angel) while Derrick Green turns in a throat shredding performance. Tsunami muses on the power and force of nature while utilising razor sharp riffing and frenetic rhythms. Classic latter day Sepultura is summed up well here- power with thought put behind it. The Bliss of Ignorants opens with Latin rhythms and percussive sounds before bringing light and shade in equal measure; the album becomes quirky with this track. Paulo Xisto locks down the bottom end effectively here, as he has done for nearly thirty years, and the album moves into its second half.

Grief opens with a very maudlin guitar and offers a bridge into the albums last three tracks by way of short verses and extremely sombre sentiments. Truly unusual in Sepultura's catalogue this track is a fine example of the band spreading its wings to good effect. The Age of The Atheist was the taster track that the band put out ahead of the album release and as such represents the more accessible side of the record. It is heavy, rhythmically adventurous and full of Sepultura-isms. Disjointed verse sections are replaced by a head nodding rhythm as Green exhorts us to consider “No gods! No leaders!” The track heats up and double bass drums are brutalised, grooves locked into and any doubts regarding the new line-up are further dispelled. 

Obsessed contains a guest spot from Dave Lombardo who contributes a dual (duel?!) drum track with Casagrande. Excellent stuff and a real percussive treat for those out there interested in such things. Da Lama Ao Caos finishes the record. From what I know, this is a track by Brazilian artist Chico Science- who is by reputation quintessentially Brazilian. As such, there is a kind of tribal/hip hop flavour to the track (kisser does the lead vocals here- in Portuguese) as the groove takes a front seat and heads nod along. An interesting and satisfying way to end an album of concise length- it is both direct and winding by turn, hangs together as an album perfectly and makes a virtue of the breadth and depth of musical approaches that Sepultura have covered over the course of their career.

Sepultura will never be a straight forward thrash band again (and haven't been in over twenty years, or ever; depending on how you view the death elements of their early sound). Good for them, I say, as they continue to make interesting and adventurous metal, full of great concepts, riffs, vocals and rhythms.

Sepultura originally made such an impact, in part, due to their third world provenance and very different background to other successful thrash acts. One imagines that growing up in the favellas is no picnic (to say the least) and thus people were interested in what the band had to say.  Kisser resides in Sao Paulo- the largest city in the southern hemisphere- and that sprawling metropolis and all it contains must inform the way the band write and approach their craft. For those of you who won’t give them a chance after Roots, Chaos AD or even Arise: you are making a mistake. Yes, they are a different band now; but by making albums of such high quality as this one they continue to be a relevant and creative musical force. There are not many metal bands who have been around as long who can claim as much. A superb album.

Words by : Richard Maw

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