Monday, 16 January 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Sepultura - "Machine Messiah"

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 13/01/2017
Label: Nuclear Blast


Will this convert early-Sepultura-only fans? Unlikely. Will it convert Cavalera only Sepultura fans? I doubt it, as those people have made their decision and won't entertain that a Sepultura can exist without the Cavalera brothers. However, this is yet another high quality entry into the Sepultura discography and is one of the best records the band has made.


“Machine Messiah” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Machine Messiah 5:54
2. I Am The Enemy 2:27
3. Phantom Self 5:30
4. Alethea 4:31
5. Iceberg Dances 4:41
6. Sworn Oath 6:09
7. Resistant Parasites 4:58
8. Silent Violence 3:46
9. Vandals Nest 2:47
10. Cyber God 5:22


The Review:

Sepultura, it can accurately be said, were once one of the most important bands in metal from 1989 to 1996. In the early 90's they were THE gateway band into extreme metal. People loved them and they were seen as somehow more cool and edgy than bands like Pantera, more modern than Slayer and were perfectly positioned to rule the metal roost in an era when Metallica and Megadeth had gone a little too far from the original blueprint. As we all know, Max Cavalera quit and the rest is a much more low key history than what might/might not have been.

As noted back in 2013 when I reviewed the superb ...Mediator... album, it is such a shame that the latter day work of the band has been dismissed by many. Sure, it may not be the classic line-up(s) that produced the early records but there is a great deal of superb metal to explore nonetheless. Sepultura have become a quirky no-one-album-alike band who have followed their own muse to produce some truly original metal over the course of the last 20 years. Yes, it is now almost that long(!).

With “Machine Messiah”, we find Eloy Casagrande still behind the kit (a monster, one of the best in metal/any genre), along with Andreas, Paulo and Derrick. We also find ten tracks of white hot intensity wrapped up in an excellent production of power and clarity unthinkable thirty years ago at the start of the band's career. The first three tracks take in a downbeat and sombre title track, the flat out thrash assault of “I am The Enemy” and even a mix of instrumentation and fantastic groove in “Phantom Self”, which also possesses a strong hook.

Those former fans wanting a return to the blackened death thrash of the band's earliest work will have to dig out those (recently purchased) cassettes and records again. This is yet another varied and magnificent work of originality. If anything, it perhaps veers a little closer to “Chaos AD” than previous Green-era records. The songs are mostly quite direct and there are no small amount of hooks across the record. There is even an instrumental in the shape of “Iceberg Dances”, which is a beguiling aural assault, packed with great riffs, an acoustic guitar section and very inventive drum work- a mid album highlight and just a superb piece of music.

“Sworn Oath” finds the band in groovily bullish mood, Green providing an excellent vocal performance to accompany the surprisingly dynamic track. “Resistant Parasites” and “Silent Violence” are arguably more “typical” latter day Seps fare; heavy, murky grooves and dark themes, while “Vandals Nest” a rip-roarer with a superb intro and a feel more akin to “Arise” or even “Beneath The Remains”.

The album thus concludes with “Cyber God”, which is a dirge type track full of angular riffs and tom work; a satisfying and dark end to an album that could be described in exactly those terms. The exploration of technologies influence/control over mankind is continued on from the ...Mediator opus and the themes are very prescient.

Will this convert early-Sepultura-only fans? Unlikely. Will it convert Cavalera only Sepultura fans? I doubt it, as those people have made their decision and won't entertain that a Sepultura can exist without the Cavalera brothers (Sepultura still boasts one original member- there are bands out there that don't, but I appreciate the arguments people will counter that with). However, this is yet another high quality entry into the Sepultura discography and is one of the best records the band has made. The days of “Beneath The Remains” are never coming back, but, frankly, why would you want them to? There are lots of thrash bands doing that, but there is only one metal band doing this. Original and uncategorisable, long live Sepultura.

Machine Messiah” is available now
Band info: official || facebook

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