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How do you begin to describe an indescribable experience? In one almighty slab of a metal landmark, Sepultura created the near perfect thrash album. Thick, aggressive guitars, gargantuan drums, the perfect mix of all things metal.
1989 was a landmark year for thrash metal. A generation of Metalli–clones was dominating the scene, and death metal was just starting to rear its pustulant head. Thrash was on the verge of being written off. Suddenly, a typhoon of immense proportions swept out of the over crowded slums of Brazil. The impact "Beneath The Remains" made on the metal world is near on impossible to comprehend now, but it was like a force 12 hurricane on the Beaufort scale, a magnitude 10 earthquake on the Richter scale, a huge asteroid crashing into the Earth. OK, so it was only one album, and there were probably about five billion people in the world who had never heard of Sepultura, but in terms of metal, it was really big!
It may seem hard to believe, but this one album revitalised faith in thrash to still deliver killer albums. Harnessing the power of Slayer, the muscle of Metallica at their peak, the aggression of hardcore, and touches of many other influences from Black Sabbath to Celtic Frost to Dead Kennedys, Sepultura seemed to have hit upon the perfect recipe to take metal into the 1990s. This took Slayer's "Reign In Blood" to the next level.
All still in their teens when the album was recorded, it was amazing to hear such maturity from such an unexpected source. Brazil had produced a grand total of zero metal bands of international note before Sepultura. While English was only a second language to a young Max Cavalera, he showed excellent mastery of dark themes, while keeping things relatively simple and to the point. The lyric sheet is not really good reading if you're looking for something to cheer you up. His rhythm guitar playing is also outstanding. Andreas Kisser's leads were original for a time when lead guitar players were either ripping off Kerry King or Kirk Hammett. Igor Cavalera's drumming is incredibly accurate and aggressive. Paolo's bass is not really audible for much of the album, but it provides a rock solid sub–sonic foundation for the whirlwind of noise created above.
Slipping on this album is like meeting an old friend after spending months surrounded by assholes you can't stand. Every track has its distinctive familiar character, instantly recognisable when you hear it. The acoustic introduction to the title track, the solos on "Sarcastic Existence", the opening riff on "Slaves Of Pain", Max shouting "Mass Hypnosis". All provide metallic nirvana, a veritable musical orgasm, a feast of sonic pleasure.
Yep, when the rest of the world has gone to shit, "Beneath The Remains" is still there, like a thrash metal security blanket.