without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
"Waa, we want Max! Waaa!"
I knew nothing about Sepultura before purchasing Against. All I knew was that they were a metal band based out of Brazil, and had just parted ways with their overrated frontman - Max Cavalera. Before I begin to give my input on Against, I must say that by this time, I've listened to just about every single Sepultura album. Captivated by the praise that "true" Sepultura fans (yeah... right!) have given their messiah Max, one couldn't help but to give Max-era albums a try! Whether it be generic thrash (Arise), generic groove metal (Chaos AD) or just plain shit (Roots) it is quite apparent that Max lovers will purposely neglect anything without their golden boy, even if that means the band releases the album that single-handedly describes who they are.
When I say this album single-handedly describes who Sepultura is, I say it because the album amalgamates everything they had done previously and it incorporates elements that had yet to be done. But this time around, the album actually finds a way to keep the listener interested until the end. The music describes where they come from, and when I say that I mean I find myself somewhere in the Amazon rainforest or in some crazed favela. The drumming is what truly carries this album, and I don't necessarily just mean Igor Cavalera, it's all the other percussion that is involved that bears the band's signature South American/tribal sound (Floaters in Mud, Tribus, Unconscious, etc). The guitars vary like no other on this record, on songs such as Against and Hatred Aside, there is a very raw and thrash-like feel to the sound. During Old Earth, the sound is very heavy and simple paving way for the drumming to shine.
Of course the biggest question mark surrounding this album was none other than Derrick Green. In my opinion, his presence is really what carries the songs. His style is very unique, there are moments in which he displays a very atmospheric and mysterious vocal performance (on songs such as Old Earth and Unconscious). There are also times when he has a very hardcore and/or Fear Factory-styled screams (Boycott, Common Bonds).
Against is Sepultura's greatest accomplishment creativity-wise. Sadly all the fans that had a hard-on crush for Max Cavalera dispersed c. this time period and began listening to his new project featuring Limp Bizkit, Soulfly. In short, Against is unique, different, and underrated.
'Against' is the first Sepultura record without Max Cavalera. New vocalist Derrick Green had too big boots to fill up, because with his great raspy voice and big character, Max also took his guitar playing with him when he left. Max formed Soulfly, but I have to admit I've heard a few songs only and they didn't convince me (Soulfly already have three albums out).
On 'Chaos A.D.' the band took a few steps away from thrash metal. The trend continued with 'Roots' and now with this one. What Sepultura have lost are the riffs. The music is very rhythmic. Over the heavy rhythm section, guitars are just "wanked" on and on. I mean Andreas Kisser seems to like more of the weird and tortured sounds his guitar make than a good, memorable riff. The most memorable parts seem to come from the rhythm section altogether. The songs vary from punky ones to, well "jungle-ish" ones and then Korn-ish "mud". There are a lot of guests on this album, most notably Jason Newsted, Gordo of Ratos De Porão and Japanese KODO drummers. I have to admit flutes and stuff are used well to create South American atmospheres. I just wonder why the band has now taken these Japanese influences. I don't mean they're bad, but has the band run out of fresh ideas?
Mr. Green doesn't sound as pissed off as his predecessor, nor does he possess same level of charisma. He does his job okay, but my memories just disturb the whole listening session, whether it's the music or the vocals. And while the music is partly very angry, it is just not same it used to be. The sound is organic and very heavy. This helps to some extent, but of course its the music that should rule, eh?!
It's truly a sad direction the band have decided to move to. Gone are the true metal spirit and the ability make a great song. No matter how hard I try to like this album, only a few of the songs seem to be something more than just uninteresting and bland. Easily the worst album by Sepultura to date. And what I've heard of Soulfly, it's not a million miles away from this... The split destroyed this great band. I just wonder how many new fans of the band, who have bought this first, like the older classic records (which for me are 'Beneath the Remains', 'Arise' and 'Chaos A.D.')?!
(originally written for ArchaicMetallurgy.com in 2002)
Sepultura with Derrick Green sucks so hard. Their talent in playing instruments means nothing if the music can't overcome the worst blend of styles. Roots was the drop-off of the band's legacy, so Sepultura tries to top it by heading directly into groove "metal" territories. Against is the first output of unresponsive, sterile music attempting to solidify the direction of Roots. It is, however, a more respectable take on that style (in that not as many riffs or parts in songs suck).
Overall, Against is a very, very bad album. Sepultura's urge for primal, caveman aggression mixed with the lamest rock tendencies is one of the worst concepts for marketable music. The same spastic rage, socio-angst lyrics, groovy rhythms, and bass-heavy sound screams tough-guy posturing. This is Hatebreed-style hardcore merging with Fear Factory's tendency to cross into nu-metal territories at the closest. Riffs have the same downtuned simplicity every time and for every song that contain them. Green and his hardcore barking / callous singing style fits these rock songs perfectly. Both are unmelodic, both go for sleek presentation, they benefit from the album's glossy production, and both attempt to tap into the overly loud wailing of coarse guitar distortion, playful riffs, massive bass layering, and fat drums that try to act like an artillery battery.
Variation is not a strong point for Against, and the "tribal" aspects and songs don't help this drawback because of the band's mishandling. Roots had this same issue where it tried to be experimental with the music, and this album does the same. Songs have industrial and tribal elements going in and out ("Unconscious" seems to be the only realistic blend), as well as weird breaks here and there to create dissonance and chaos. This doesn't work when such ideas are thrown in without properly writing around these ideas. Not only that, but the predominant musical genre itself is so shitty and uninspired to begin with that it makes it impossible to create anything catchy or impressive out of it.
Instead of trying to break out of an identity crisis, the band further solidifies itself into one. More well-produced, bass-laden rock songs too inexcusable to sit through. They test the patience of the listener by veering off track and pummeling the same boring formula into the ground. Sitting through one song is a headache, but to subject oneself to the whole package is lunacy. This repetitive trash is beneath the term music and belongs in a void where no one will ever hear it.
This album gets ALOT of undue flack from the metal community. It seems that this album along with Roots tends to be the whipping boys of Sepultura's career(Roots deserves it though, but I digress). Let's give a little history lesson on how Sepultura came to unleash Against. 1996 through 1998 was a turbulent time for the thrashers from Brazil; Max Cavalera got his way and they let loose the steaming pile that was Roots, then Sepultura got tired of Max always getting his way due to his wife being their manager, so they decided to sever ties with her as their manager but were willing to work with Max and his wife as his manager. Well, Max, took this personally and bailed, talked a shit load of crap about the band, formed a new ungodly abomination that is Soulfly, and pronounced Sepultura dead. Well contrary to King Max's decree, the band picked up the pieces and decided to continue with a new singer. Many sent in their demos, doing their best Roots era Max impersonation, and Sepultura decided that they didn't want to go in that direction. Enter Derrick Green, the man who would replace Max. Time to hit the studio.
Now with that outta the way, we get to the album; Against. And what we have here is an album born out of sheer anger and frustration. Fans had begun to write Sepultura off, and began to embrace Soufly. Max slammed his former band mates any chance he got publicly. Soulfly had sections of songs that were directed right at Sepultura, so they decided to answer back, but in a different direction. One they had explored with Chaos A.D., groove meets hardcore, with surprising results.
Against opens with it's title track, starting with some ambiet sounds before ripping into a vicious drum pattern. Then the guitar kicks in, and what we hear is vastly different from what we last heard for the boys from Brazil. Gone are the meandering, plodding, downtuned single note riffs, in their place intense, crossover punk/thrash styled aggression. Gone are the horrible nu metal styled broken english grunts Max so lovingly perfected on Roots, in their place Derrick Green's massive roar of voice. After plowing you down with the one minute and some change opener, comes Choke. If the song Against is a bit off putting at first, Choke brings you back to the Chaos A.D. styled comfort zone. Heavy, groovy, with a touch of thrashiness, Choke hits you harder then a ton of bricks, and sets you in for the new album. Heavy, thick, aggressive, and just plain pissed off plays through out the whole album. Most of which is quite enjoyable and very headbang and mosh worthy, especially my personal favorite on the entire album, Common Bonds. This song hits you hard over the the head with heaviness, and showcases Green's vocal range, something Sepultura never(and probably couldn't) explored with Max.
You may be asking yourself, "If you got so much prais for the album, why only give 80%?" Well, here's your answer, while Against is filled with some great moments, there is also some boing filler bits as well. Tribus is boring, and is played at full length at the end of the album. F.O.E. and Unconscious are forgettable, Reza is cool for about thirty seconds, then gets irritating, and Hatred Aside is just all over the place and inconsistent.
All in all, Against catches way too much flack. Alot of people want to compare this to classic Sep, like BTR or Arise, and you just can't. Against has more in common with Chaos A.D. than their early albums, but even then it's an entirely different animal all together. It's a pissed off, aggression fest, worthy of a listen with open ears. Highly recommended.
Stand out songs: Against, Choke, Rumors, Old Earth, Common Bonds.
Looking at the reviews of this album, I see a lot of hate for this album, with that dreaded word "Mallcore" being banded about a lot. What the hell is "mallcore"? From what I can see, it's one of the stupidest fucking genre names I have ever heard in my life. Seriously, what the fuck? Anything that Roadrunner seems to have put out IMMEDIATELY constitutes "Mallcore", so I suppose I'll add Deicide and Obituary to that list then? It seems to be that if your album wasn't out in 1986 and entitled "Pleasure To Kill", you'll probably be a "mallcore" band. Maybe if all you uber-metal-l33tists took your head out your arse or even your Sarcofago vinyl bootleg collection, you'd notice that it is one of the worst terms ever devised to describe something.
But I digress from my main goal, to review this album. "Against" was seen as the birth of a new age for Sepultura, eschewing in Derrick Green as a replacement for Max Cavalera, and instantly stepping into his shadow. However, it also saw a stylistic change for Sepultura yet again. Andreas Kisser had taken Sepultura in a more hardcore-styled direction, faster, shorter and to the point. It was a million miles from the proto-Black metal of Morbid Visions or the Death/Thrash of Arise and Beneath The Remains. It took the groove base of Chaos A.D. and fiddled with it, adding some Hardcore style stuff here and there, as well as bringing in the Tribal elements of Roots again, although with a more Oriental slant this time as well.
The result? Better than I expected anyway. I expected a below-par offering of the same songs recycled over and over again, but there is a great deal of variation, with the tribal bits adding a great deal of flair to the whole thing. Saying that, this is what you'd expect from a Derrick Green-era Seps album really. Against was the carving out of a niche style for Sepultura, this is where they made a statement and outlined what this new Sepultura was and the following albums built on this base.
The problem was that they never really capitalised on the promise of this album. By the time of Nation, most of the tribal elements had been scrapped, with only the odd flourish here and there. Not only this, but the individual performances here are some of their best. Especially Derrick Green's. Seriously, what the hell happened? Green's performance on this album is AMAZING. The Vocals are all over the place, Napalm Death style screeches, Downright EVIL growls and stellar clean vocals, although not the best ever, they fit perfectly and his dulcit, low evil voice is fucking fantastic nonethless. There's so much variation it's unbelievable, but by Nation it was all gone. He had found his comfort zone and was sticking to it, with a slightly monotone shouty voice (Which does appear on here as well quite a lot, but along with the variation works better) that begins to grate after a while. The vocals do not grate on this at all. I love them. One of the best performances I've heard on an album for a long time.
Igor Cavalera's drumming is a benchmark on here and shows off his flair undoubtedly. He mixes the groove of Chaos A.D. with the blast of Arise/Beneath perfectly, as well as adding lots of Tribal beats and fills and bringing into reign the band and adding the sensibility of future albums. Paolo does a great job on bass, although is overshadowed a bit by the appearance of Jason Newsted here methinks. Andreas Kisser is fantastic, the riffs he peels off are excellent, and it's a long while before he starts having to mine deeper in his Sepultura riff bank to find anything good.
The songs themselves vary from not bad/average Seps to really fucking top class. The opening one-two of Against and Choke is inspired and you'll be wanting a breather after them! Luckily, Rumors give us this respite, being average and not very exciting at all. Next up, Old Earth provides one of the highlights of the album by far. One of the best Green-era Seps songs ever to be honest, I love it. Floaters In Mud I could live without to be honest, it's quite boring and that title is cringe-worthy. Is that the best title they could come up with? It makes me think of a blocked toilet pan every time I hear it!
Boycott is a bit better but nothing to write home about really, enjoyable but not memorable. Tribus is an enjoyable instrumental which I thought was quite interesting (And an odd choice to be released as a single, which Sepultura did), but Common Bonds was your typical slower, groovy Seps song and quite disappointing, although the way it segues in from Tribus was fantastic I loved it. F.O.E. was interesting but forgettable.
Then we come to Reza. An outstanding song, one of the best Sepultura have written and possibly the best of the Green era! Imagine the first 4 albums distillied into a strong hateful brew and then injected with 100% pure Napalm Death. This is bordering on Grind, honestly. I fucking love it, and I wish they'd play this live. Perhaps they should've got Joao Gordo to be pernament vocalist instead of Green!
Unconscious is another filler song, and a good comedown from Reza. Kamaitachi is great, although not something you could whistle down the street. Having the Japanese percussive band KODO guest on this song is inspired although it feels like the Metal elements were added for the sake of it, out of more need than want. This could've been perfect if there was no actual Sepultura on it, oddly. Drowned Out is good but suffers like Unconscious and the rest before it, in that it's not very memorable. Hatred Aside however is VERY memorable. A collaboration with Jason Newsted (Definitely a collaboration, not a guest appearance, he has co-writing credits for both Music and Lyrics as well as singing and playing bass/guitar on the track). A great thrash tune, echoing Beneath The Remains and Arise, (Surprising when you consider Newsted's day job at the time was Load/Reload-era Metallica) this song SLAYS. After Reza, this is my favourite song on the album.
The album closes with T3rcermillenium, a Canyon Jam for Green-era Sepultura. It incorporates lots of odd tribal instruments and was, mostly, recorded in one take live. I think the whole "one take" thing is extremely interesting as is the tribal instruments and the general Jam nature of the song. I wish Sepultura would do an EP or something, consisting of songs and Jams like this or Kaiowas or even Jasco/Itsari, a "mellowed out" EP. Although nowhere near as good as Canyon Jam, Kaiowas or Itsari, it is a great song and a welcome addition.
In conclusion, this is a fantastic album, and I can't see where all the hate is coming from. The only thing I can think of is the fact that it's not Max and the stylistic change (This is so far removed from early Seps, it's unbelievable). The hate seems to come from fans who seem to believe that Sepultura should have just continued to churn out copies of Beneath The Remains/Arise up till the Modern day, but to be honest, Chaos A.D. and Roots are just as good and even a bit better than the 2 albums mentioned above and this new style is actually good, when you give it a chance.
The other problem is that, because of Sepultura having 6 consecutive masterpieces, this had a LOT to live up to. Before even singing a note, Derrick was already firmly in the shadow of Max. If this wasn't better than all 6 albums combined, he would be hounded, no matter how good it actually was. The split had also left a rift with the fans and 2 sides formed, the Max side (Heralding the birth of Soulfly) and the Seps side.
In the end, Max looks to have won out via record sales and tours and Green became overlooked, which is a shame, as Sepultura today are actually really good, on album and onstage. When I went to see them in 2006, they blew me away, but I know that a Soulfly/Cavalera Conspiracy show would've been better.
But regardless of the disadvantages, the only other problem is that it's the jack of all trades. You can't really think of anything that it's better than. It's nowhere near as good as any of "the Max 6". You can't even say it's better than it's arch-rival, the Soulfly debut, as I still hold that in a higher regard. In fact, you can't even say it's the best Green-era album, as Nation takes that title for me. Against is a bit non-descript, and I loved the whole "nation concept" of Nation as well as it still having a better set of songs, as well as the fact that Green actually got to write a bit more. I would be willing to bet that Kisser, as the main songwriter, had written most of this stuff with Igor before they even picked Green as the vocalist. Nation was written as a more consciencous effort from Cavalera, Kisser AND Green and flows much better.
It seems that this album will be always be seen as second best to everything else by the Cavaleras and Kisser, which is a shame.
Now with the depature of Igor, and the subsequent setting up of the Cavalera Conspiracy, It seems that this Sepultura is consigned to the history books as a footnote. With the promise of a new album based around "A Clockwork Orange", it seems there is 2 ways for Sepultura to go. They can go down the route of Black Sabbath and descend into farce with a revolving cast of drummers and an underappreciating fanbase yearning for the days of old, as Kisser and co. churn out album after album, and tour after tour to a dwindling fanbase, or they could throw their fans a nostalgic bone and reunite the Max-era line-up, undermining and diminishing the 10 years of Derrick Green. Personally, I would be happy if they didn't reunite. Why? Because then we'd be getting Sepultura albums which are still quite good AS WELL as Cavalera Conspiracy albums and Soulfly albums. To be honest, if a Seps reunion means abolishing Soulfly and Cavalera Conspiracy, I'll say No thanks.
What will actually happen though? Only time will tell.
You know, I love it when trends collide with trends...it helps expose the ironic hypocrisy so many people claim not to follow but do so sub-consciously. Case in point: this obsession with the term "mallcore".
Now, just so you know, I'm against pretty much ANY kind of popular music based mostly on the fact that it's NOT music (pop punk, emo, alt rock, goth rock, pussy pop, etc.), though the fact that so many idiots blindly follow such meanderings doesn't forgive the situation. This becomes the original trend; "you gotta do what we do, follow what we follow, or you're a freak and we hate you!" Such self-defeating mindsets do nothing but make you out to be the weaker person, the parasite spreading your pitiful plague on other weak people who wish only to be accepted and live an artificial life devoid of ANY sense of free thought and individuality.
However...along comes the people who decry their lifestyle and musical tastes, and sometimes even go so far as to denounce and hate certain musical groups for changing their style and supposedly "selling out" and becoming, as they call it, "mallcore". These groups and albums are hated because the band chose to do something different and to NOT listen to the wishy-washy fans demanding they re-record their best album time and time again or they'll denounce the band's existence, as though THEIR opinions are what mattered, despite the fact that the die-hards enjoy the band's music for what it is, rather than what it should be, and at times speak the loudest. These fickle so-called "metal-heads" have their own lifestyle the newbies and trend-whores must follow: "you gotta do what we do, follow what we follow, or you're a freak and we hate you!".
"Do what thou wilt, shalt be the whole of the law" then becomes "Do as we say, not as we do", exposing the hypocritical poison.
Ironic that the trend-haters become the very thing they despise at the end of the day, isn't it? I personally think so.
But I'm once again getting ahead of myself...I'm here to review an album, after all. So apologies to everyone for the time I've supposedly wasted. Here we are, then...SEPULTURA's first album sans Max "I love God" Cavalera quit to display his masterbatory brand of heavenly worship via simplistic nu metal noise romps in SOULFLY, and left Andreas Kisser as the sole riff-smith and main creative force for "Against". In my humble opinion, this album isn't as bad as SO MANY PEOPLE claim it to be...if you took the album at face value and not "the album SEPULTURA was SUPPOSED to release!" it's not that horrible. I don't find it mind-blowingly awesome by any means, but I've heard worse. The entire album teems with a sense of anger and rage that was absent in the band's nu metal wanderings in "Roots", and a sense of revenge seems apparently dominant, as seen best on tracks such as the title track, "Old Earth", and "Choke". Andreas does his job well, and though his hardcore riff stylings aren't always in best form, it's angrier and more digestable than most hardcore music out there. However, the over-all compositions come off as lacking, obviously only half an old SEPULTURA song. Igor's drumwork is as top-notch as ever, infusing thrash skin-beats and the now traditional tribal percussion work in a nice, palpable mix. In the vocal seat is one Derrick Green, who, I know, ISN'T Max, but his roaring vocals seem the fit the musical scheme of things rather nicely (I have yet to see him sing older songs, so I can't comment THAT much about him). The production is clean and clear, giving the guitars a sharp, razor-like approach, and the percussion powerful blasts.
In the end..."Against" is NOT a perfect SEPULTURA album, but it's not the end-all-be-all of this supposed "mallcore" scene, as there are FAR worse albums and bands out there to devote all that hate to. Remember, my metal brothers and sister...Emo is still alive and active...
For first Sepultura studio album since a chaotic system of changes this could have been much worse, but on a musical level aside from these recent disasters it could also have been a lot better.
This CD is a sloppy affair albeit bearing some key moments of brutality that only Sepultura can bring forth. The hammering strains of the title track, the grunting "Choke", the good refrain of "Old Earth" and the catchy refrain of "Rumors" all worthy of a second listen. The production is clear and crisp, the instrumentals make for a great mood leaving the rest to be "ok" metal-slop that bears little in the way of hooks or memorable riffs. (It's angry and brutal in most spots, but hardly life changing.)
Oh yeah, the fact that this is the first album without founding memeber Max Cavalera on vocals/second guitar is also to note. Our new frontman has a bigger range and a voice with more diverse qaulities than Max but lacks Max's intensity and aggression. He is "brutal", but he is hardly amazing or so unique. He is a sheer case that sometimes "range" cannot replace personality - though he does as good a job as any replacement of such an important member could be.
Max is out, the new guy is in and nobody really cared. Record after record would see the once popular act losing considerable amount of respect, sales and attention over the years. The music with Max may have been on a quick decline, but this is nearing the bottom of the total affect that Sepultura could have produced.
Without Max they have no hope of commercial success, one wonders though, that even with Max that the artistic goals might also be a struggle to reach despite his island-core-metal-hybrid having a least some sort of hook or direction.
Both Max and Sepultura would find themselves in an artistic mess at this juncture...sadly...only one could keep the fans and while this record sold well on curiosity the end result was a band in free fall. A fall that continues to this very day.
All I have to say is, What the fuck? This is the almighty thrash band Sepultura? Fuck no, it can not be. First off let me warn everyone, this is not a pretty album, or a pretty reivew. This isn't even fucking metal, it is sloppy ass riffs, barely any soloing, and a mix of fast chaotic growling vocals that doesn't even match the other instruments.
I am gonna do a indepth (but brief) review of the first couple songs, then an overall view. This is to help the viewer stay away from this mallcore infested boobytrap!
First song up Against- Its only a minute some, no big deal. Starts off with a cool drum fill, but then goes into a shitty riff that sounds to much like pop-punk. It's forty seconds in the song and the singing comes in, choppy and inconsistent. The riffs are way to simple, straight punk like eight notes, with a squealing guitar sound. Are my ears bleeding?
Choke- Wow, this is way to much mallcore for me. The drumming is totally off from the bass beat, no consistency. The vocals are over stressed, the singer is definetly trying to hard. Try singing instead of screaming till your face turns red! Then there is about a minute of weird techno sound, don't know what that is about!?!?
Rumors- Drums are ultra fast in the beginning, kudos to them. But then the song slows down, tremendously. Whispering vocals? Then screaming till your face turns red. Come on this is straight out Mallcore. This song reminds me a lot of a Nine Inch Nails song! So if you dig NIN then you might like this!
Old Earth- This song takes about a minute of pure guitar noise with no signfigance. The drums are cool, nice double beat. But the fading in and out vocal sound is really crappy, and done really bad. Then it carries on the slow, fast type speed. Then towards the end they have this guy singing and this guy talking and the drummer is just hitting his cymbals. Yeah, that's annoying!
Floaters In Mud- Starts off with what appears to be a chime of some sort. Then that deep bass tone, found in nu metal. Then a minute later it carries on the crappy pace of slow then fast. Once again the singer trys to fucking hard. He is aiming for quality, but in return gets a pile of rat shit. This song also has some techno (remix if you will) sounds at the end that are totally bizare. It's like Godsmake made love to Nine Inch Nails.
My overall analysis is crap, and more crap. I like metal, not mallcore. Old Sepultura was pure thrashing bang your fucking head untill your spinal cord breaks. Your bobble doll on your dashboard of your car won't even move if you play this stuff. If you like mallcore then by all means procede with this album...But do not call this thrash metal!!! To go further here are some more songs to prove my case. The song Reza starts off with a drum beat and then a weird guitar sound. Then drum beat, then weird sound, etc. What comes next? A crappy muffled growled vocal. To take it further, they fucking talk in the song! I recommend this to mallcore fans. No metal head should ever have to suffer listening to this shit!