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It's Sepultura's third full length but only the second if you consider the newfound direction starting with 1987 Schizophrenia.
Things are simple here. I could easily go into a moronic-mode and start barking that this album is a huge part of my life and emotionally driven shit like that etc etc. Instead I will comment objectively and state, in full awareness, my belief that this is the best album of music related to Speed Metal/Thrash. At least of what I've listened to.
Schizophrenia showed a great deal of potential but the technique needed to play this style of metal was quite out of reach for Sepultura. Andreas Kisser was an excellent guitarist at that time, adding new sense of melody to Sepultura but, probably, he and Max needed a bit more practice to explode from the Death Metal they played into the more Speed oriented stuff. This grey area between Speed Metal and Death Metal was explored by many bands in the mid and late 80's (Slayer, Kreator, Sodom, Rigor Mortis etc) featuring the song structures and riffs of Speed Metal (although some times riffs could arguably enter the Death Metal division), the growls of early Death Metal and probably the tempo of Thrash cause Speed Metal never reached this speed before. In my opinion Sepultura explored this era with the most free and creative mind. Creating a language of their own by not being attached to any genre. Beneath the Remains is the gem of this exploration and quest and it is also the highest moment of Sepultura's career.
The album starts with Beneath the Remains, a magnificent masterpiece of controlled and directed energy. Kickass parts from the track's solo till the end. Inner Self follows up which is a Speed Metal hymn, one of the most famous songs of Sepultura, slower than the title track but good. Stronger than Hate is probably my favorite track. Pure energy and powerful lyrics. Magnificent riffcraft for the biggest parts of the song. Mass Hypnosis is another classic of Speed Metal structuring with excellent melodic parts in the middle of the song. Sarcastic Existance is a piece of delightful headbanging which (along with the last track of the album) are my favorites lyrically. This song deals about war probably and in an excellent manner. Slaves of Pain is possibly my least favorite of the album but still kicks ass (the first half of the song is fucking excellent). Lobotomy is the most progressive attempt in this album and upholds this quite good, containing many riffs and tempo changes. Hungry is a kind of melodic track dealing about social stuff and finally, Primitive Future is an epic, a prognosis of humanity and this world with supreme headbanging intent and top-class lyrics. The album leaves you wanting more...
What can I say? The only reason I give it an 98% is that I just hold the two last ratings (99 and 100) for ultra super fuckin special reasons. I sincerely state that this is the fuckin best thrash-related metal album of all time. I can say that this is my favorite album of metal music. It is perfect in almost every aspect, it literally never slows down, song structures are masterpieces, sometimes they put melodic touch but this whole thing is so fuckin anti-modern that I feel full of fuckin 80's energy every time I listen to this album, even in its melodic moments. It chops in half the dick of everyone claiming that The Haunted Made me Kill Myself and all this Gothentrend shit is thrash-style. Beneath the Remains will teach you (if you are a beginner) what the fuck is thrash. What the fuck thrash was supposed to be.
Riffcraft here is not as necrohellish as is on the previous records of this band but instead show zero intention to sound satanic or occult or metal or shit or whatever the fuck every band hailing from the underground is in fear of not sounding like. This is to their favor because when these kind of things emerge, probably the whole thing is controlled by such ideas and the bands that work like that are kinda immature and are being lead by a lot of underground trends so they lack originality. Believe me MANY bands are like that, especially in the South American Underground, Sepultura are maybe slightly aware that they are getting to be well-known so what they make is not so underground-elitism stuff but they show some mainstream metal influence too, not bad, sometimes this is needed too, blind rejection of the mainstream is ... blind. In a few words, in this time of their career, Sepultura don't give a FUCK about their image but they only care about the music, and this fuckin shows real good in Beneath the Remains. Plus that there's a huge improvement in rythm guitar technique and compelxity.
So... The 80's sadly wave goodbye and give their metal throne to the debatable 90's and Sepultura after conquering, through Cogumelo Records, South America, decide to conquer the world of metal. Scott Burns' production is excellent and if you ask me better in a lot of ways than Arise (my humble opinion). Every instrument is represented like it should be and guitar is not heavy as fuck like arise which kinda ruins the speedy feeling. Igor Cavallera also sounds a lot better here than in Arise. He is fuckin insane and absolutely fuckin precise, sometimes it drives me mad thinking he can burst into thrash rythms any time, EXPLOSIVE fuckin percussion here. Super highlight of the album.
Epilogue: 98%. If you want to show what the fuck metal means to one friend of you, lend him this album but if he accidentaly loses it or destroys it, rape his mother and sacrifice his whole neighborhood to Satan. If you don't have this album, go buy it NOW or die. No, seriously, I can't think of a possible reason why you wont like this album, it represents everything thrash ever stood for and there's nothing fuckin modern to be found here. EVEN if you aren't much into thrash or speed. If you are into these genres and you don't have this album simply you don't know what the fuck you are missing. EXTREMELY recommended to any self-respecting human being that wishes to be called a metalhead (or if he doesn't give a fuck about how will he be called).