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With all the respect due to this band, Sepultura is not the same band after Max left. I know, I can be monotonous and this point has been already touched by many but the differences from the first to the second period of the long history of this band are just incredible. Actually, even with Max in the line-up we could already notice changes in the sounds, if compared to the primordial violence of the early albums. Chaos AD and Roots were representative of this choice to change direction, filling the sound with tribal influences and lots of genres coming form outside, like hardcore, groove and even a bit of industrial (a thing that Max decided to use on bigger quantity on the Nailbomb project).
Max’s influences on the band were undeniable, his image will always be related to Sepultura and now that even Igor has gone away from this band to join the brother, I think Sepultura should change the name.
I respect Paulo Jr. and Kisser (let’s remember the innovations this lead guitarist brought after Morbid Visions) but now it’s time to change. If till Dante XXI the fans could have been a bit in trouble in “choosing” the band to follow (Soulfly, Sepultura and now Cavalera Conspiracy), I think they now have the definitive occasion. However, let’s remind that few of the old school fans are still there and I consider myself one of those. I’ve decide to constantly listen to the old efforts, the real ones by Sepultura. Since Against I’ve always tried a quite logical and mature approach to this new Sepultura “version” but any time I listened to something new, my disappointment was too big. Even this time I tried a mature, objective approach to this new album A-Lex but this mission has not been accomplished.
It’s a pity because even the cover artwork was bounded to an older conception of it. The logo was like the one on Beneath the Remains and the “sculpture” in the centre reminds the ones on Chaos AD or Arise; unfortunately the music is quite distant in quality and aggression from the one on those albums. If Dante XXI was remarkable for its acceptable length, despite the quite lame music inside, the new album points on the length and on the number of the tracks. I’ve always sustained and I will always do that the perfect length for an album like this one should not surpass the forty minutes. Here, we have almost sixty minutes of music and you all know how it is difficult to maintain the same level of songwriting for the entire album. To this, let’s add the music itself (grooving hardcore) and the scenario is complete.
“A-lex I” is an intro with gloomy sounds from beyond as the first riffs come in. The distortion is quite acceptable because quite raw and pounding. For the drums we can say the same thing and so far nothing wrong. “Moloko Mesto” has a truly brutal beginning with lots of up tempo and riffs. The production on these faster parts is quite messy and the sounds melt down in a confusing progression. The stops are full of tribal and weird passages. The vocals by Derrick Green are simply not adapt for Sepultura even if they are OK for the new direction. However, I can’t stand them. “Filthy Rot” displays the very first evident groove elements, stop and go by the guitars and the artificial noises. The clean vocals parts are just terrible in their will to be ritual and tribal.
What is quite enjoyable here is the way they succeeded in creating a quite occult and dark atmosphere. “We’ve Lost You” follows more progressive and groove patterns with lots of weird passages like also “What I Do” that, by the way, is a bit more on speed. Fortunately all the tracks on this album are quite short. “A-lex II” is again groove on the second part before the heavier but always quite annoying “The Treatment”. Some good up tempo parts and more classical riffs are to appreciate but forget the stop and go. “Metamorphosis” features arpeggios and always grooving structures with slow patterns and weird sounds. The same can be said for the following, longer “Sadist Values”.
“Forceful Behaviour” has something stranger for the vocals and the riffs are always quite fast, detaching a bit from the drumming that is fast just on some sections. The return to the hyper annoying groove is called “Conform”. “A-lex III” features again dark sounds before the mid-paced overtures and the almost rap vocals on “The Experiment”. Some sections feature fast restarts but they last for few seconds and they are submerged by high doses of groove. “Strike” is always similar to the other songs with plenty of mid-paced section, groove riffs and distorted vocals. “Enough Said” contributes in raising the violence and the speed before the violins and the doomy, weird structure of “Ludwig Van” as tribute to the great composer.
“Alex IV” features calmer notes with a strange, distorted break by the middle before the faster “Paradox”, featuring thrash riffs and up tempo sections. However, they don’t forget the groove influences by the middle and we finish this album in this way. To pay homage to A Clockwork Orange, Sepultura put out another pointless release. This band should simply change name if they want to go on like this, but maybe it’s not my business. My only recommendation is to let you know that here there’s almost nothing of the old school brutality and don’t be taken in by old school oriented cover artwork. I don’t want to slander this band but this is enough, and acting like this they’ve already ruined the memories of a shining past.
However, for those who loved the more recent efforts, this one can be good for you but, old school fans, avoid A-lex.