without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
Had I actually kept my attention focused for more than five minutes at a time, about two weeks ago this review would read far far differently from what has been submitted right now. For some inane reason, the memory of which I have managed to excessively dilute with beer, I seem to have this bizarre soft spot for post-'Roots' Sepultura and frequently give them the benefit of the doubt. While everyone else treated their albums as though they sonically transmitted leprosy, I always said they weren't completely awful and that they had the potential to write decent music, which they somewhat managed with 'Dante XXI'
However something went wrong with 'A-Lex' and it's hard to explain because for the first couple of spins it's not bad; it's not great either but it manages to do little more than what you'd expect from modern Sepultura. With subsequent listens 'A-Lex' becomes more and more arduous to sit through as the few redeeming moments on the album all but disappear whilst the rest of the abhorrent material grinds away at your patience. Ignoring the superfluous, numbered self-titled tracks and "Ludwig Van" each other song fits into one of two categories with little to no divergence; short and fast or longer and mid-paced. The result is a very unbalanced album; the shorter tracks are more bearable since the riffs don't outstay their welcome, but they're also completely devoid of defining characteristics and are easily forgotten. The longer tracks are more distinctive but for all the wrong reasons; groove metal riffs are not uncommon to modern Sepultura and aren't the reason why these songs are so bad. It is more the fact that there are so few riffs per song that four minutes feels like eight minutes instead, which is further compounded by the all the songs sharing similar structures that they operate like clockwork. "The Treatment" is the only song which manages to switch things up enough to keep interest; still it's not a great track but it is at least some proof that Sepultura can write when they're really pushed to it.
Of course if there's proof that Sepultura can fuck up the whole songwriting process then it's present in the form of the self-titled, concept story linked tracks which are a non-entity at best. They're highly reminiscent of similarly concept themed tracks that were present in 'Dante XXI'; you remember those right? Yeah, neither do I. They're uninteresting and don't drive the album forward, backward or any discernible direction. Sepultura should have just thrown what little subtlety they had out the window and have the band chant "HEY GUYS THIS IS A CONCEPT ALBUM ABOUT 'A CLOCKWORK ORANGE'" over and over for two minutes instead.
Further berating Sepultura and their atrocious attempts at songwriting we come across tracks such as "Sadistic Values" and "Ludwig Van". The former is just bizarre; the first half of the song is one of those quiet-y sections with some asinine notes picked out on the high E string while Derrick talks/whispers and such before we go into a groove riff and the song basically sounds like every other song until the end. While "Sadistic Values" is just an exercise in poorly gluing on a section to the front of a normal song so you can appear deep or thoughtful, "Ludwig Van" is a poor attempt at further establishing the concept story of the album albeit with no tact, subtlety or talent. Basically the band play alongside a piece of Beethoven's music, which piece I am not sure of so feel free to email me about how much of an uncultured heathen I am. At first thought you might assume this would be awful; some horrible bastardisation of classical music but really it's just boring because the band don't build upon the music, they're simply another set of instruments. I suppose it's good they didn't try to experiment with the track and do their own thing because they're fucking rubbish at doing anything outside the box or even inside the box most of the time.
'A-Lex' is tedious. I really am confused that a band could write 'Dante XXI' which was interesting sometimes and then decide to fuck everything up by writing songs that are bland and severely lacking in dynamics. Whether we can put our hopes in Sepultura producing another good album is hard to say, but admittedly I'll still look forward to another album since at least they didn't write another 'Roots'.