Review: Sepultura – Beneath the Remains

Posted: January 24, 2014 in Reviews
Tags: , , , , ,

This is the best Sepultura album, period. Seems a strange way to start a review, surely I should explain my decision in a well thought out argument that tells you all just why exactly this is the case. But I have listened to this album countless times over the past years, and have never got bored of it. ‘Roots’ was more tribal, ‘Arise’ may have been the pinnacle of the band’s death metal period, and ‘Schizophrenia’ the under produced thrash gem, but it is ‘Beneath the Remains’ that welds those two styles together in a way that has scarcely ever been equalled since.

The title track opens the album with acoustic picking that is eerily reminiscent of Metallica’s ‘Call of Ktulu’, but then explodes into a hyper-speed explosion of thrash that barrels onwards at a hundred miles an hour. Max Cavalera gives the vocal performance of his career on this album, his rabid growl perfectly suited the raw, primitive feeling of the album. Second track ‘Inner Self’ slows the tempo but at no point loses the power of the opener. The drumming of Ivor Cavalera is strong, punishing and relentless in its pursuit of the riffing. This is a thrash album that rarely slows to draw breath before exploding off in another direction.

‘Stronger Than Hate’ is probably my favourite song on the album, with its lightning pace, hooky refrains and technical passages. It is a gem amongst gems, only bettering the others by pure personal choice. The palm muting frenzy of ‘Mass Hypnosis’ follows, with some great stop start sections and the most face meltingly good solo on the records. It is also obscenely catchy, something that should not necessarily occur with such brutal, relentless music but yet they have pulled it off. Almost every track has that element about it, not just the ‘oh this is Sepultura’ recognition but the ‘this is ‘Sarcastic Existence’ motherfuckers, let’s go mosh!’. It is an album where the riff is king, and you can take your pick to the best, but the opening burst of ‘Mass Hypnosis’ is mine, closely followed by the chorus of ‘Slave of Pain’.

Cavalera’s vocals and lyrics provides the perfect soundtrack to such apocalyptic sounding music. Be it war, death and destruction on the title track, anger and isolation, vengeance or death and pain, Max’s bark captures such themes with intensity and emotion it is hard not to get swept up along with him. His answer to coming destruction is to brave the degeneration of societal values by self trust and self empowerment, and preaches over some of the most self affirming metal ever written. It is an album whose poorer tracks, (Hungry, Lobotomy) still wipe the floor with 95% of all other thrash bands. By poor, I meant in comparison to the rest of the album, they are still of a very high quality.

Sepultura may have left this style behind, and Soulfly sure as hell haven’t written anything this good, but this is by far and away the best album the band have ever produced. It’s their ‘Master of Puppets’, their ‘Reign in Blood’, and deservedly should be spoken in the same breath as those as a classic thrash work.

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