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(Subtitle: 'What is this shit?!')
Sepultura, why. Seriously dudes, what the fuck compelled you lot to morph your stellar deathrash into this shitty Pantera clone groove bullshit? I will never understand the thought process behind it. They were making a fair amount of money with their good old stuff, and they seriously couldn't hop on the death metal ship? They were already kind of close to it, all they needed was some heavier, sludgier riffs and guitars, blast beats and possibly a move from grunting to growling by Max. No, instead they put out what amounts to Vulgar Display of Power with a Brazilian accent, more politically orientated (but equally retarded) lyrics, a tribal hint to some of the songs (including the prototype for every Soulfly jam ever) and less flashy soloing. Other than these small nuances, all of the flaws of the Texan's 1992 effort remain.
Still, enough with these petty ruminations of 'what the fuck were they thinking?' and what could have been, and instead dive into a problem I noticed immediately, and one of the things that will forever piss me off about this album: THE FUCKING PRODUCTION. It isn't the worst production ever, but why did they retain this stupid grime to everything? It just sounds like something is wrong with my speakers, because everything has this really shitty sounding distortion to it. It just becomes grating to listen to, with a constant 'HISS' of the guitar tone and another 'HISS' of those MOTHERFUCKING CYMBALS. Oh, and the vocals are too loud, because you can hear them and the shit lyrics all too clearly (but more on that later). If you know what the production of Vulgar Display of Power sounds like, you know what I mean. It just sucks, and is another layer of irritation to this piss poor, hardcore laced bullshit excuse for 'extreme metal'.
Speaking of piss poor excuses for a framework of much higher standards, it would seem that the band's stylistic transition has painted them in a corner somewhat. This album basically has the same instrumental deficiencies as a certain Pantera album, one of which is boring as hell grooves. They are endless, repetitive, droning crap that are trying so very hard to be heavy and aggressive but failing miserably. The drums suck, they just follow the shitty hardcore stop-start rhythm of the godawful groove riffs. The same goes for the bass, too. There is zero inspiration to be found in the rhythm section, because like any bad heavy band from the '90s, they are so focused on being heavy that they forget to bring any sort of flair or talent with them. And no, the solos don't count. They are basically completely contrived wankery that is like an emaciated, forced caricature of the excellent noodling style of 'Dimebag' Darrell. It is there only to break up the monotony, but the solos themselves become monotonous because it is just an artificial, passionless stream of random notes!
This whole album is just an exercise in endless, drill-to-the-skull, droning, grating monotony, lacking any sort of natural variation. What do all these things remind me of... could it be? NO! MAX HAS OPENED HIS MOUTH!! I HATE his vocal style here, despite its similarities to the thrash grunt he used on the last 2 albums. I don't know if it is due to the unfitting music beneath him, the production, the shitty, repetitive lyrics or a combination of all of these, but his vocals SUCK! They are so grating and monotone (literally, listen to that first verse of 'Refuse/Resist'... JUST SHUT UP!), and are made worse because they sound completely stripped of any sort of bite or aggression at all, like his work on Beneath the Remains minus any sort of actual harshness. He is just talking loudly, trying to sound tough but coming across as a fucking moron, and a goddamn joke ('Biotech is Godzilla'... shut the fuck up man.)
And sure enough, this sheer banality, this lack of inspiration, this pissing away of talent to sound 'tough' and 'brutal' just forms many small monuments to why groove metal and modern hardcore SUCK BALLS. EVERY FUCKING SONG (barring 'Kaiowas' or whatever) IS THE SAME. Just boring groove after boring groove, an endless stream of straight beats, irrelevant bass, and Max's never ending, unwanted retarded caveman shouts. The songwriting is also complete bullshit, with one or two 'riffs' per song, with all the computerised soloing, verses, and shitty angsty 'protest-styled' one/two word hooks where you would expect them to be. No effort has gone into making the songs a bit unpredictable or interesting, it is all just tough-guy hardcore-laced metal (hardcore-laced metal... metallic hardcore... metalcore. Yup, just sayin'.) designed to be so brutal, you know? WELL IT IS SHIT.
So, what else? The lyrics suck (have I mentioned that yet?), with such gems like... aww man, too many to pick. Literally look at the lyrics and tell me they don't suck with their dumb presentation (the caveman vocals not helping at all), and the odd sense of angst to go with them. Not quite the levels of emo/alternative rock/nu 'metal' teen angst, but more that sort of 'first-world plastic anarchist' type stuff, like when Nickelback made a song called 'Edge of a Revolution'. I just can't take it seriously at all, and it just smacks me as something Roadrunner would have sold as 'different' and 'culturally aware' on their part to market music with such insightful lyrics! And then there is 'Kaiowas', which is some meandering, boring tribal jam that this band for a time, and Soulfly to this very day, swore/swear by. Nothing to see here, move along people. This isn't creative or interesting at all, just a forced and failed stab at some variety to the proceedings.
In fact that is a good summary of my views on this album, and all of Sepultura's shit past this point: 'Nothing to see here, move along'.
During the early 90s, metal was in a phase of radical renewal. On one hand, the genre was continuing to reach more and more extreme levels, thanks to the evolution of death metal into more brutal and technical forms and, contemporarily, the birth of black metal in Scandinavia (getting more extreme has always been the main deal since the 70s/80s); but, on the other hand, a parallel branch of the genre was moving toward completely different directions.
Thrash metal had lost the privilege of “extremity” (robbed by death metal at the end of the 80s) and was progressively being replaced by groove metal, popularized by Pantera and followed by tons of old thrash bands that didn’t know how to go on with their original style. Moreover, the whole concept of “groove” was really taking over metal like never before (especially on the most mainstream side of things, with radio hits such as “Enter Sandman” and “Symphony of Destruction”), and bands like Helmet and Fudge Tunnel, adding influences from genres such as hardcore punk, noise rock and the newborn grunge rock wave, were bringing the whole “groove” thing to a higher level (many of these same components, properly applied to doom metal, gave birth also to “sludge metal”). And, as if it wasn’t enough, experimentations and weird mixtures of genres were becoming very popular thanks to bands like Faith No More, Primus and Mr. Bungle, with the addition of the massive industrial metal trend brought by Godflesh and Ministry, and the “post-metal” trend inaugurated by Neurosis. Perhaps, the early 90s were the most creative and eclectic phase for heavy metal.
In this weird situation, Sepultura were destined to play an essential role, as one of the most innovative metal bands of the 90s. These Brazilians had already built a strong worldwide reputation, thanks to absolute thrash masterpieces such as “Beneath the Remains” and “Arise”. The latter, in particular, offered a very twisted and unusual rendition of thrash metal, featuring very complex compositions, a major use of slow tempos (with occasional well-placed grooves) and sick, alienating atmospheres that never belonged before in the genre. However, it was just the beginning: in 1993, Roadrunner Records released “Chaos A.D.”, a record that was going to change forever the whole metal scene, in terms of both attitude and song-structures.
Metal and hardcore were often flirting together during those years, and Max Cavalera was definitely going through a massive hardcore phase right then. Sepultura never made a mystery of their debt toward bands such as Discharge and Dead Kennedys, but on this album, their influence is surely more evident than before: the band’s disdain towards the fucking cops and the corruption of our system was growing more and more throughout the years, and “Chaos A.D.”, as a consequence, stands out as the most political Sepultura album (of course I’m referring to the true Sepultura, so “Nation” doesn’t count). The lyrics of “Refuse / Resist”, “Slave New World”, “Propaganda” and “Manifest” take a very direct and pissed off approach to all the shit going inside the system, offering a lot of unforgettable lines that every true Sepultura fan knows (”Chaos A.D.”, tanks on the streets!”, ”Face... the enemy!”, ”We’re not slaves, we’re... FREE!”, and I could go on forever); all of this is possible also thanks to the groovy nature of these songs, which makes the vocal lines easier to be articulated in a proper manner and recognized by the listeners. Honestly, I never really liked Max’s vocals on this album - they sound a bit half-assed and forced, like he was just “trying too hard” to sound over-the-top, but this is a flaw that would have been fixed later on “Roots”, where his vocals are surely more refined and comfortable than before on groovy patterns.
So, yeah, we could easily define this as a groove metal album. But, differently from most other albums released by thrash bands at that time, this is far from being a mere Pantera worship. In all honesty, this stuff is radically different from Pantera’s style, to the point that perhaps the only thing in common with them is the groovy approach, rather than the riffing-style per se. All I hear on this album is a “metallized” version of the modern hardcore/alternative music of those years, in many different facets all organically blended together (to the point that most metalheads don’t even recognize them). I don’t know if the band took also some inspiration from Pantera, but I honestly feel that most of the “groovier” riffs on here are influenced by the likes of Helmet, Biohazard and, most of all, Fudge Tunnel; after all, around that time, Max Cavalera was creating the Nailbomb project along with Alex Newport, so I think it’s obvious that he had a strong admiration for his band. Alex gave even some contributions to the production of “Chaos A.D.”, and he’s probably responsible for the “muddier” guitar tone that this album possesses in comparison to the previous ones.
The influences from modern hardcore and groove metal work really well in Max’s hands: he always had a thing for immediate, catchy punk tunes, and he perfectly blends this component with Sepultura’s soul, creating a genial crossover that no one had seen before. The disruptive double-bass-driven riffing and the catchy groove breaks of “Refuse / Resist” did school to countless bands since then (listen to Korn’s “Need To”: does it remind you of anything?), as well as the massive sludgy riffage of “Territory”: so slow, yet so goddamn powerful and crushing, even without the crunchy guitar tone of the previous albums (and the chorus, awkwardly shouted by Max, contributes further to empower the song - ”WAR FOR TERRITORY!”). Another episode that is often underrated and deserves absolutely to be mentioned is “Nomad”: it contains some of the most awesome groovy/sludgy riffs of the whole album, sounding pretty much like filtering Fudge Tunnel’s trademark sound (“Creep Diets” era, more or less) through a more “chugging” approach (which comes out as the compromise between the band’s new “groovy” sound and their thrash metal past). All of this is enriched by a very catchy Helmet-esque break during the refrain.
And, well, this is a controversial element that needs to be analyzed: “Chaos A.D.”, in fact, is responsible for having contributed to popularize the use of rhythmic chugs and breakdowns in hardcore and metal. Tracks such as “Amen”, “Territory”, “Biotech is Godzilla”, “Propaganda” and, indeed, “Nomad” are filled with plenty of chugging riffs that work essentially as a reinforcement to the groove component... with the difference that most of them, on this release, actually work successfully. They don’t detract anything from the songwriting, which is still very dynamic, organic and filled with brilliant ideas of any kind. Sadly, nowadays, the emphasis on groove has become a plague in metal, especially since the early 2000s; metalcore and deathcore are guilty of this for the most part, but even in supposedly “tr00” subgenres, this plague isn’t absent at all: there are too many bands that use chugs and monochord breakdowns in general just as a filler to mask the lack of ideas, and this is one of the reasons why, nowadays, metal is in a profound crisis (along with the obsessive conservationism of some factions, which bring a derivative “retro” mentality to the oldest subgenres, or the pretentiousness of some self-claimed “experimental” bands... but these are all different branches). Luckily, Sepultura knew what they were doing in those days: these chugging parts are very heavy and appropriate for massive headbanging and moshing, but most of the time they’re also very well-diluted with the rest.
Some proper old school traces still remain, but very scarcely. The thrash metal component survives in some moments, like the beginning of “Slave New World” (still mostly in a mid-paced fashion), few parts of “Clenched Fist” (which contains both mid-paced and up-tempo moments, with some brilliant and expressive riffage that would even be appropriate for “Beneath the Remains” and “Arise”), the mastodontic double-bass cavalcade of “Propaganda” and, most of all, the neckbreaking full-speed assault of “Biotech is Godzilla”, where you’ll find the sharpest riffs of the whole record, along with some other violent and catchy grooves (and there’s even the guest apparition of Jello Biafra!). As I already stated, most of the hardcore influences on here draw from the early-90’s groovier branch (such as Biohazard), but you can find some hints of fast 80’s hardcore punk on “Refuse / Resist” (y’know, the famous live-favourite ”open the circle pit, muthafuckas!” break) and on the furious up-tempo of “Manifest”.
However, if you consider this album to be just a simplistic work of mindless moshable stuff, you couldn’t be more wrong. On the surface, “Chaos A.D.” presents itself as a less complex album in comparison to “Schizophrenia”, “Beneath the Remains” or “Arise”, but actually, Sepultura’s experimentations are in full swing and there’s a lot of weird material to be found on here. “Arise”, though being a substantially superior effort, was just the beginning of a new path for the Brazilians, which concludes on “Roots” and collocates “Chaos A.D.” right in the middle of the process.
First of all, the industrial/noise influences are even more pronounced than before: Kisser’s soloing style has really changed from the “Schizophrenia”/“Beneath the Remains” days, when his melodies were flawless and coherent; now, he goes for a more dissonant and clearly noise-influenced style (another important component of Fudge Tunnel and Helmet’s style, as well as a peculiarity of Godflesh-derived industrial). Now his solos are no more supposed to accompany the music in the most appropriate way, but just to make the overall sound more disturbing and strident. There are a lot of solos disseminated throughout the record: some of them display a bit of coherent melody, but sometimes you aren’t even sure if they’re more on the melodic or on the dissonant side of things (“Territory” is the first example that comes to mind). However, the alienating intros of “Propaganda”, “Nomad” and “Clenched Fist” leave little doubt, and the slow and sludgy “Amen” is an absolute highlight in terms of experimentation, thanks to “desolated” yet menacing riffs and incredible hypnotic guitar parts that create a vaguely sinister vibe (yet still quite atmospheric); “Manifest”, on the opposite, features a lot of weird samples (pretty much in the vein of Ministry) and aggressive, dissonant solos that fit perfectly the mood of the song and increase the feeling of fury and urgency.
But most of all... after the little anticipations on “Altered State”, on this album Sepultura fully embraces the “tribal” concept, which will be the driving element of the next album (as well as most of Soulfly’s career). Right from the start, with the intros of “Refuse / Resist” and “Territory”, Igor gives to his drumming a very tribal feeling, thanks to weird and exotic rhythms. The drummer has reached a very high level of professionalism, in total contrast with his early, sloppy performances on “Bestial Devastation”, and he demonstrates his skills throughout the whole record, showing a lot of versatility and giving this tribal feel even to the apparently most “ordinary” compositions. But the most explicit experiment toward that direction is undoubtedly the acoustic instrumental “Kaiowas”, a tradition that was destined to become routine in Max Cavalera’s career with his next albums; even the haunting, atmospheric instrumental “We Who Are Not as Others” (another display of Kisser’s awesome soloing style) contains some fine tribal tricks that work perfectly in the context.
In front of all this creativity, you can’t label “Chaos A.D.” just as another trendy groove metal album made in order to adapt and survive. Sepultura was clearly enthusiast about the changes that were occurring during those times in metal and rock music in general, and they just expanded their musical spectrum with all this interesting new stuff. Some people (including myself) could prefer their past thrash efforts, but the band’s passion, attitude and quality remains indisputable. The New Model Army cover is the definite confirm of their will to experiment with different stuff, and it’s particularly interesting to see how, in the booklet, the “thanks-list” is filled with countless bands of the most disparate genres, from Sepultura’s original underground thrash scene to the early-90’s alternative rock current, from Ratos de Porao to Faith No More, from Overdose to Biohazard, from Master to White Zombie, from D.R.I. to Ministry, from Chakal to Mr. Bungle, from Sacred Reich to Motorhead, from Nuclear Assault to The Ramones, from Metallica to Charged G.B.H., from Acid Storm to Alice in Chains, from Paradise Lost to Helmet, from Exodus to Fudge Tunnel, from Korzus to Neurosis, from Dorsal Atlantica to Fear Factory, from Kreator to Meathook Seed, from The Mist to Machine Head, from Sadus to Red Hot Chili Peppers (!!!), from Black Sabbath to Ice T. (!!!!), and even the “Nailbomb” moniker appears, anticipating what Max Cavalera and Alex Newport were working on.
A lot of modern metal bands will mention “Chaos A.D” as one of their main influences, and even the earlier, mid-90’s nu metal bands such as Korn and Deftones make no secret of their love toward this album. In all honesty, nu metal was a lot better when bands were influenced by music like this, rather than gay radio-rock (Linkin Park, I’m looking at you). In the end, “Chaos A.D.” is a masterpiece that contributed to innovate and re-invent heavy metal in the early 90s, and it’s also one of the best groove metal albums I’ve ever heard (though not the best of all). Screw all your prejudices such as “sellout groovy shit” or “trendy proto-mallcore”, and listen to this record with an open mind and a clear perspective about the early-90’s metal scene: you’ll surely have a better comprehension of this opus.
It's not hard to see why this 1993 release from the bold Brazilians caused such a stir among the metal community. It's also easy to see that this kind of album was on it's way and was the next logical step. The band really gained it's potency with the 1989 classic, Beneath The Remains and became a league of their own with smart songwriting, urgent production and uncompromising brutality. Their followup Arise, while still carrying the thrash metal card was clearly adopting some groove metal stylings. While still having plenty of breakneck tempos and progressive riff changes (Subtraction, Arise) like it's predecessor, it had more than a few laid back grooves (Desperate Cry, Dead Embryonic Cells) as a hint towards their change of pace to come.
This came full circle on this milestone of an album, Chaos A.D. We're introduced to the new direction straight away with Refuse/Resist, it's main motif is introduced in the form of a two note groove riff, pedaling back and forth in a pendulum like motion. Max Cavalera demonstrates a slightly higher intensity (and pitch) vocal delivery compared to the last few releases. While being a slower speed, the drums do not sacrifice any power and put maximum weight and flourish lock-stepped into the tempo with a certain tribal flair. Andy Wallace's production is fantastic, giving a new sense of clarity and definition not previously heard while truly capturing the essence of the band with plenty of punch and thickness to boot with respectable dynamics.
Territory increases the tempo slightly and really emphasizes the Brazilian tribal vibe in the drum work. It carries a sociopolitical undertone which is a common theme across this album and Max Cavalera's theme of choice for the most part of his output. The songwriting is clearly intended for the mainstream with a more simplified approach to the songwriting. While this is quite a jarring contrast for the discerning metal fan who came to love (maybe even worship) their previous signature songwriting style, the album performed remarkably for a metal album from Brazil, ranking as high as 11 on the UK Billboard charts and reaching gold status right across the Western nations (and silver in the U.K.) so they achieved their intended goal.
There seems to be at least a hint of their thrash metal roots with a fairly brisk punk beat in Slave New World. The main riff sounds quite similar to Inner Self but faster and in a lower tuning. Amen brings the tempo back down and showcases the prominent bass guitar not previously associated with this band, which goes quite some way to invoke the groovier feel across the album.
Kaiowas sets an all new precedent for Sepultura consisting entirely of acoustic guitars and tribal percussion set in a Welsh castle complete with chirping birds in tow! Propaganda has great pummeling riffs and double bass from Igor Cavalera. Max lays the smackdown against propaganda as implied and this song features a killer breakdown towards the end of the song. Sepultura may have changed their style but it's impossible to deny how well they do it.
The guitar solos of Andreas Kisser are quite different compared to the legendary fretwork of old, The lead guitarist opts for a highly experimental and mostly rhythmic approach, sometimes eschewing actual notes for frantic noises featuring pick-scrapes and whammy bar attacks. If fits the rest of the music most of the time but it's not up to the usual standard of lead work.
The tempo finally gets cooking with the all too short Biotech Is Godzilla featuring laughably paranoid and vague lyrics by Jello Biafra. This is one among very few songs to have an upbeat, thrash metal tempo and is less than two minutes to conform to the hardcore punk vibe. Nomad is decent and isn't all that weak but shows that the new formula is prone to sounding a bit repetitive and the distinction between each song begins to blur. Speaking of repetitive, We Who Are Not As Others consists of one repeated phrase being the song title and is rather subdued, lacking bite and direction. Manifest breathes a bit of life back into the mix. Max's narrates the Carandiru massacre in a megaphone voice. This song has just enough tempo and riff changes to keep up the interest and prevents it from falling into the lackadaisical mid-tempo stasis of We Who Are Not As Others.
The Hunt is a New Model Army cover that would seem rather out of place if you did not realize it was a cover song but in that context, it is a rather interesting take. Sepultura always make for interesting covers under their unique style. The lyrics are also consistent with the underlying theme, making it an appropriate choice. The album closes musically with Clenched Fist which starts with an interesting tri-tone effect and mixes up the laid back groove pulse with more urgent thrash tempos.
The last track is simply an attempted whacky comedy skit with the band members laughing nonstop. There is no bonus song on the track and seems a bit pointless and fillerish in an otherwise great record. In summary, Chaos A.D. is a very enjoyable album for most people who enjoyed their previous works and aren't afraid to see their favourite bands evolve and is a memorable introduction to Brazil's biggest musical export for first time listeners.
Okay, some decent songs, but overall the band just sunk in crap in overall estimation. Definitely a decline in songwriting capabilities, the band just hit rock bottom even though Max was still with them. The 1st couple of songs are tolerable, but the album as a whole fell short in dismay and destruction. It seemed so half assed, lacking the aggression and originality in songwriting that they used to have. They just sold out with this one, kind of along the lines of Metallica with their "Black" album. Just all of the songs are in non-aggressive writing structures, just sub-par outputs where the band just lumped together some riffs and solos and just made a bland excuse for an album.
Check out a song like "Refuse/Resist" and you'll find that they totally mellowed out, which isn't totally a bad thing, just a sad ending to a legend that turned rancid. The guitars are thick, but the innovative riffs that were amongst them in their earlier days just are no more. I wouldn't consider the band to be called "Sepultura" because this is no Sepultura to me, et al. What counts here is music, but if you want to call it thrash metal, I think that it would be a mistake. They used to come up with the most intriguing and aggressive songs and yet they put out something like this. They should've just changed their name like Metallica should've.
No progression, just regression, stick with the old stuff. This is just a waste, you really have to be in the mood to listen to something mild, but even so, pretend that their name wasn't Sepultura. An evolution? A destruction. A destruction of talent that they once had, musically the album isn't an entire waste. I could tolerate 3-4 songs then I have to turn it off in utter dismay. Sad to hear such a great band that gave up in the thrash metal community. Many bands went to hell, but this decline was as obvious as I've said Metallica's decline as well. If you want heavy metal, I'd say this is more fits in that genre.
The music contains just bar chords slapped together with some severe solos, plus a bunch of acoustic riffs during some songs and overall an obliteration of the band. Maybe it's a money thing or maybe they ran out of ideas. It could be both, but now that Max is officially done with the band, I say RIP to them with vigor. Bands that don't decline over time are ones to follow with each succeeding album. But bands like Sepultura you never would expect a death (1st) metal origin, then thrash, then like groove metal. It's kind of weary and a waste, unless you feel like listening to half assed crap.
Don't make a mistake and investing in this release because what you don't get is thrash metal, you get a non-super Sepultura. It's more like they as a band went to the grave with this one. Pardon the pun, but really, check out some songs on YouTube. If you like more groove oriented bands, this will hit home. But if you're expecting thrash metal, you won't get it here. It's completely non-existent. In all reality, we hear of Sepultura and think "yeah, they rock the hardest!" Well, "Chaos AD" doesn't rock if you expect like I said thrash, it's totally a decline and end of the band in general. So to me they're officially "dead."
I really wanted to love this album. As in, REALLY wanted to love this album. Why? Firstly, with the possibility of seeing Sepultura live this year, I wanted to gain knowledge and enjoyment out of as wide a range of the band’s material as possible. Secondly, having fallen immeasurably in love with ‘Beneath the Remains’, I naively began to hope that all Sepultura releases would find their way into my heart and impress me in the same way that 1989 thrash opus did. Finally, the purchase of ‘Chaos A.D’ signalled my long-awaited return to pursuing my love of metal, a hobby which, over the past six months had, unfortunately, fallen down my list of priorities as a result of the cursed mundanities of everyday life. Never had I approached an album with as much anticipation and excitement as I did with ‘Chaos A.D’.
And it wasn’t as if I was immediately confronted by a horrific assault of poor musicianship, unlistenable production and weak songwriting. Nor was I perplexed at the drastic turn in direction from the band’s other releases – that, I was aware of prior to listening. Upon my first listen of this album, I was somewhat impressed. The music can be quite enjoyable, is almost always heavy and there are no stand-out awful tracks. ‘Slave New World’ is rightly lauded as one of Sepultura’s best songs, with its simplistic, thrashy verse riff surely compelling any worthy metalhead to bang his/her head right off. ‘We Who Are Not As Others’ captivates the listener with its emotive instrumental introduction before ascending into a powerful chant which reflects the sense of unity in the song’s title. With tracks such as these, then, why the low score?
The problem with ‘Chaos A.D’ is that it is totally and utterly forgettable. Maybe not that poor of an album in itself, just forgettable. I have seen metalheads discuss topics such as ‘what albums are enjoyable to listen to, but leave you unable to recall a single riff or particular moment of quality when you cease listening?’ This is one of those albums. No, this IS that album. The listener may tap their foot and nod appreciatively to the majority of this record, but little will stay with them. Explaining just why ‘Chaos A.D’ is forgettable is something of a contradictory endeavour, so I won’t waste too much time in trying to explain the inexplicable. All that needs to be said is that the riffs generally go nowhere, the solos pale in comparison to those featured on previous Sepultura releases and the lyrics (examples, ‘No man’s land, what is this shit?!’ and ‘Life is chaos, you gotta deal with it’) come across as generic and lazy. To consolidate the general boredom of this album, we are treated to some moments to which ‘irritating’ is the only fitting adjective. How else would one describe the generic whammy-bar intro and outro riff of ‘Nomad’, the bizarre choral singing at 2.19 in ‘Amen’ and the pathetic ‘laughter’ in the closing minute(s) of ‘Clenched Fist’? The less said about ‘Biotech is Godzilla’, the better. Little changes from song to song, the acoustic instrumental Kaiowas and The Hunt (a cover song) being the only deviations from a predictable formula of thrash-influenced groove which was similarily utilised by overrated darlings Pantera just shortly before.
In conclusion: disappointing and frustrating from a band we all know can do so much better. Worthwhile as one of those albums you blare after a bad day in work, or jam along to in order to warm-up on guitar, (insults in themselves I suppose) but anyone who hopes that this album is the perfect blend of Sepultura’s early and later work is in for an almighty letdown.
The popular opinion among extreme metal fans is that with the release of "Chaos A.D.", Sepultura were hopping on the musical bandwagon for heavy metal in the '90s, abandoning their magnificent and decidedly non-trendy speed metal riffing in favor of a more commercially acceptable groove oriented style, made quite popular by bands like Pantera. The majority seem to speculate that the boys from Brazil changed their style so they could keep selling albums in the new musical climate, and that their output suffered because of it. I don't agree with that.
While the stylistic change may have come during a time when slower, groovier music was becoming popular in the metal scene, in no way is this album toned down as far as extremity. "Chaos A.D." contains by far the heaviest and arguably the most aggressive material Sepultura had yet written. What Sepultura choose to hold back as far as musical complexity, they make up for with sheer ferocity. The simpler guitar riffs bludgeon the listener in the same way Celtic Frost did a decade before and the slower beats allow some space and breathing room; they have time to build strength before crashing down. In a way I would compare the music on this album to classic Discharge or Cro-Mags. An odd comparison perhaps but the approach is similar: aggressive, yet simple, repetitive guitar riffs over steady, pummeling beats with angry, gruff, screaming vocals and minimalist, politically charged lyrics - total fucking hardcore.
While "Morbid Visions", "Schizophrenia", "Beneath the Remains" and "Arise", were all unique and highly influential albums, ultimately putting Brazil on the map for extreme metal, they were still of a style that was mostly rooted in the music pioneered by bands from the United States, England and Europe. I believe that Sepultura added the groove element to their sound, not to make their music more accessible, but because the rhythmic, tribal element was better representative of where they were from. It gave the band a sound and style they could really call their own, and at the same time pulled them out of the stagnant overgrown swamp that was the death/thrash metal scene at the time. Many die hard, "old-school" headbangers cry about this album being one of those that helped jump-start the whole "nu-metal" movement, and they're probably right, but "Chaos A.D." is far more abrasive than the melodic, pop-garbage that MTV, mainstream "hard rock" radio, and glossy magazines like Hit Parader were trying to pawn off as "heavy" music to angsty mallrats.
I once held the opinion that "Arise" was the last 'good' Sepultura album. It was only after discovering the aforementioned Celtic Frost and Discharge and masochistically loving every moment having my skull battered by them, that I've been able to draw the comparisons between "Chaos A.D." and the classic works of those two bands and it changed my opinion. I hope this review can change some others' opinions that they might come to enjoy this classic album as well.
Sepultura's fifth full-length is unique in terms of weirdness: "What does Chaos A.D. sound like?" is a rhetorical question even for those who are very familiar with the album. The amount of genres mixed into it is bizarre, and each song is so different from the other that if it were not for Max Cavalera’s vocals it would sound like a groove metal compilation. The situation is aggravated by its unique ability to generate commotion and polemics, and someone who has not heard the album before will still be unable to tell how it sounds like no matter how many reviews he/she reads. By writing this review, I will try to clarify things a bit, and succeed where others have failed. Do I sound preposterous? Surely I do. This is a doomed task, but as far as I know, trying does not hurt.
First, I don’t consider Beneath the Remains to be the masterpiece it is supposed to be. Surely enough it is creative, and it does have many interesting riffs, but Sepultura was little more than Slayer with lower vocals back then. Chaos A.D. was, if not their magnum opus, the first full-length that was truly theirs. Within the album, you will find some of the catchiest riffs ever, and the desire to mosh is present in every song but the bonus tracks. The drums – that mix Brazilian influences with groove metal ones – are undeniably creative and Cavalera’s pissed off vocals are amusing enough to keep you going.
The album has two main strengths. The first of them is the drumming - an extremely competent and creative Igor Cavalera pretty much carries the album for half of its length, and the mosh-friendly aspects of the full-length are empowered with a series of influences from Brazilian genres that at first do not have anything to do with metal. The drum patterns are so varied that one would guess that the band hired several different drummers instead of sticking to Igor. The second is Refuse/Resist, a track that might be not only the best Sepultura has ever written, but also one of the best songs in terms of mosh that human beings were able to come up with, despite its slow nature and simplicity. Everything in that song – with the possible exception of the lyrics – gets emotional response from the audience when played live, and I have yet to see a cover of this song being played without individuals thrusting each other.
However, once you start to think about the album as a whole you realize that it does not have a lot to offer: as I mentioned before, this album offers a different formula, one that was coined by Sepultura itself and that is based on immediate gratification rather than on technicality or skilled songwriting. It is a real mosh gem, but when listening to it alone for more than twenty minutes you realize that the recording is as superficial as it gets: the lyrics vary from weak to dumb and some songs are repetitive to the point of being annoying. Superficiality, however, does not explain the horde of outraged Sepultura fans that spit in the face of this album. What turned fans off was the fact that with Chaos A.D. Sepultura left the world of thrash completely, choosing to replace their Slayer heritage with hardcore-influenced groove riffs that laugh in the face of speed and are as complex as a hydrogen atom. It is true that those riffs did not exactly suck, but to give their fans something that was purely based on creativity and that could not be compared musically to anything they had previously recorded was the same thing as asking for bad reception.
Of course, when such a thing happens it is interesting not to have terrible tracks. “Biotech is Godzilla”, “We Who Are Not as Others” are two lame songs, being the first one extremely short and predictable (the same drum pattern for two minutes… ugh) and the other an instrumental track that simply doesn’t go anywhere and has a single sentence that barely manages to be an excuse for not being able to come up with lyrics at all. Those two songs wouldn’t make it to a list of the worst songs ever, but they make a statement about everything that is wrong with this album: when creativity falls short, the lack of depth makes itself clear and the listener is left with absolutely nothing but a lot of annoying filler passages.
Summarizing, this is not as good or as bad as it is supposed to be, it is simply a somewhat radio-friendly album with tracks that differ from each other not only in terms of riffs but also in terms of influences. The album does have flaws, which become visible when creativity falls short, but listening to it is an ultimately amusing experience as long as you do not try to sit through the whole album at once. I would give it a score of 70, but seriously, Refuse/Resist and the drum pattern that opens territory easily earns 10 extra points.
Few albums have polarized the masses quite like Chaos A.D., but I really have to admit, after careful consideration: this is my favorite release from the Brazilians. Why, you ask, would a thrash purist like myself prefer this over their faster, busier albums like Beneath the Remains? Well, for one, I found Arise quite a bore. There were a few good tracks hidden in it, but the tone of the album did absolutely nothing for me, and I thought it was a few steps backward from Beneath the Remains. More importantly, Chaos A.D. is a culmination of form. It was inevitable, really. Take the band's social and political lyrical stance, the tribal folk influence of their environment, and the down tuning hardcore breakdowns; combine these to create one of the most fist pumping pit epics ever.
I'll go one further: Chaos A.D. is probably the most mosh-worthy album in the history of metal. Almost every track here is laden with brutal yet simple pit grooves that are nearly irresistible, even to one such as myself, who has loathed the mosh pit culture since a very young age. Sepultura writes these things extremely well here. Max's angry barking and one of the best productions I've ever heard for a metal album round out the pummeling, furious statement that is Chaos A.D. Make no mistakes about it, this is one pissed off album.
"Refuse/Resist" begins the album with a powerful groove and some nice drumwork, before the infamous line Chaos A.D.! Tanks On The Streets! Confronting Police! Bleeding The Plebs! delivered just as angrily as any hardcore band. The tribal "Territory" thrives of its simplistic grooves and crazy breakdowns. "Slave New World" is a thrasher that might have also appeared on either of the previous two albums. "Amen" has the perfect, simple verse riff, dispersed by some slower drum fills and doomier guitar breaks. "Kaiowas" is a folk, acoustic piece, yet it feels as if it fits here completely. "Propaganda" starts with haunting, ringing guitars before pulverizing your face yet again with a simple riff which seems like it's just a variation of others on the album. But this is the forte of Chaos A.D., it's basically feeding you the same style of riffs over and over and having you love them every time, the power of cohesion and continuity reigns. "Biotech is Godzilla" is a decent, faster track but not one of my favorites on the album. "Nomad" begins with another ringing mid-ranged guitar, almost siren-like, before the drum fill leads into another neck breaking groove. "We Who Are Not As Others" is a progressive track with some acoustic fills, bluesy wails and gang shouts. Very effective. "Manifest" is a brutal tribute to the violence of prison population purges. The band covers "The Hunt" from New Model Army, and does an excellent job with the tune, sounding very much their own. "Clenched Fist" ends the album with another sick, grooving verse.
As I mentioned earlier, this album has an insanely good mix, recorded in England. Everything is loud and clear, the guitars sound punishing and the vocals pissed. The tribal fill inflections of the percussion are evident, and the bass runs thick. Crank this fuck and just try not banging your head to it. The lyrics are decent and meaningful, especially for the band. I have heard countless horse shit scenester complaints about how this album is 'sellout' and one of the influences that created the dreaded 'nu metal' genre, along with Machine Head and the emerging rapcore scene. But here is the catch: who cares? If all nu metal had been as good as this album, noone would have hated it to begin with. Unfortunately that was not to be, and even Sepultura started rolling downhill after this (I may not agree with the blowhards that this record was the Anti-antichrist, but I certainly agree about Roots).
Before this arrived, I had lauded Beneath the Remains as my favorite album from the band. While that remains the best of their speed/thrash style, Chaos A.D. is the album that truly defines this band for me. It's where they stopped being Slayer, D.R.I. and Metallica's heavily accented counterpart from Brazil and became an entity all to themselves, yet still has plenty of those types of thrash riffs. It is distinctive and nigh flawless. It still sounds great today. Give it a chance, or give it another.
Contrary to popular belief, the majority of thrash bands in the 1990's did not fall into mediocrity immediately. There was always a "gateway" album, an album that was decent enough yet showed troubling signs of some degree which foreshadowed the musical horrors that would follow. The most obvious one of these was Metallica's self-titled album, which was lackluster but solid despite the change of sound. MegaDeth had this in "Countdown to Extinction" and "Youthanasia," both of which were very good for what they were. Slayer had "Divine Intervention," and our Brazilian friends in Sepultura had "Chaos A.D." It was by far not the worst thing they would do in their career, but it was a definite step backwards from the thrash excellence of previous material.
When I first began buying music CD's many years ago I got into Sepultura based on a recommendation from a friend. This was the only album available at the time (which makes sense, its their most famous and the only one retailers seem to have most of the time) so I picked it up. At that particular point in time, I immensely enjoyed what I heard and assumed the band's best moments were cemented around what I heard here. Naturally, after getting the band's back catalog, particularly "Beneath the Remains" a couple of years later, my opinions were completely changed. Suddenly, "Chaos A.D." was no longer the shining star I had mistaken it for previously. In fact, I dare say "Chaos A.D." was the gateway to disaster for this band, an opinion a good number of folks here on the Archives seem to agree with.
So where does this album go wrong? For one, the weight shift of modernity in the early 1990's was not a pretty one by any stretch of the imagination. Though some bands like Overkill countered this some degree of intelligence and retention of quality, most others, including Sepultura, did not. What "Chaos A.D." offers more than anything is a dumbing down of their incredible thrash legacy set in the four albums before this one. Considering the legacy includes albums like "Schizophrenia" and "Beneath the Remains," which were both ass-kicking whirlwinds of massive riffs, its hard to understand why "Chaos A.D." was ever concieved. Maybe it was the appeal of commericialism that struck the band like a virus, or maybe it was the desire to expand sounds and prevent musical stagnation. If it was the former, shame on the band and if it is the latter, they did a terrible job of expanding anything other than boring groove metal.
Contrary to most of the negative reviews here, I actually liked the song "Refuse / Resist." Yes, it is massively overrated, often considered by the media to be the band's best song. I can firmly say, after stacking it up against "From the Past Comes the Storm," "Beneath the Remains," among others, that it is not, nor is it close to being the band's best. Still, its kept to an ideal length for groove metal, to the point I can't truly complain. "Territory" is a different matter, as it becomes too stagnated and long winded for its own good. Other tracks like "Amen" and "Nomad" are both similiar stories, with the former going into some poorly placed religious chants, foreshadowing the ill-fitted avant-garde ideas that would consume "Roots" like a boa constrictor does its prey. This also plays into "Kaiowas," which I will admit was a decent enough idea considering it was fairly new at the time just not carried out very well. Again, more nods to the abominable mess heard on "Roots."
Yet not all is lost in the world of half-assed Brazilian groove metal. "Propaganda" hammers out some decent moments when it gets going, though still nothing compared to albums of years past. "Biotech is Godzilla" is silly as hell but a competent hardcore inspired song. I like the political message of the song, which Sepultura is usually known for, but the lyrics and Max's voice just do not work. Neither sounds like they were given much effort, and since Jello Biafra was involved in some sectors of this album, that explains the hit and miss nature of the lyrics all too well. At least Max doesn't end up singing the ultra-happy nonsense the Dead Kennedys often got into. Evan Sienfeld's name is also attached to the credits, though he appears as a musician only on "Slave New World." Nothing to get excited about there anyway, you can't really tell its him aside from the credits and I'm not someone who gets overly happy to see anyone from Biohazard appear on a record.
As much as I'd like to stomp this album flat at times, I really can't. It isn't as abominable as some might have you think, I come to this conclusion because I didn't judge this as a thrash album which it is not. Yet even based on groove metal standards, its a mostly pedestrian release with a few good songs surrounded by lame groove and bad ideas that only foreshadows what would transpire three years later on the tribal misfire of "Roots." I can say that while it is an accessible album for the band, I wouldn't really want anyone to discover Sepultura this way. Discovering them with this album might lead one to think "Roots" and post-Cavalera Sepultura are acceptable, which is as far from the truth as possible and I'm lucky to have found their thrash albums and to know what acceptable Sepultura sounds like. If you're already an established fan of the group and wouldn't mind a trip into a world where Sepultura tried to be the Brazilian Pantera, then you might find something worthwhile here. If such a desire should occur, seek out "Chaos A.D." from the discount aisle and leave it at that.
I don't get all the hatred for this record. 'Refuse/Resist' stomps out the box with a roaring riff that makes me want to throw molotovs at tanks. 'Territory' is possibly the greatest song Sepultura has ever written. Igor's drum work is insane here. 'Slave New World' is ferocious, a neck-snapper balanced on layers of menacing groove. Sure, this isn't the straight death/thrash of old but it isn't the dumbed down monotony of 'Roots' either. This is a hybrid, an experimental push forward that proved the tipping point for a lot of other bands that followed. For Sepultura, incorporating elements of hardcore, punk, and Helmet style start/stop into the thrash equation reinvigorated their music but also provided an unduely fashionable influence that other bands watered down. Maybe that's why this record garners so much hate? Not so much for itself but for what it engendered? I don't know how anyone could care really in the face of such monster songs as 'Clenched Fist' and 'Propaganda.' Those songs blister.
Sure, there are some flaws here as 'The Hunt' is not a particularly good cover and doesn't fit the mood of the album at all. 'We Who Are Not Like Others' falters along simplistic lines once the gang shouts kick-in. As a mantra for the album, it works but the beautifully textured music beneath the vocals deserves more than this redundancy. Lastly, 'Manifest' would've been better served to sound less like an homage to Ministry -- a case of Sepultura letting their influences get the better of them. That said, these flaws are relatively minor in the overall scheme of the album.
What strikes me most about "Chaos A.D." is its vitriol, that an album this angry could remain this relevant is striking. Lyrically, it was this album that thrust Sepultura into the spotlight of political mass consciousness. Their anger was, well, manifest: anger over the mass suicide of the Kaiowas, who refused to be removed from their ancestral Amazonian lands; anger over U.S. biotech companies forcefully raping and pillaging traditional Brazilian organic agriculture, as well as the rainforest itself; anger over Israels treatment of Palestinians, anger over endemic global poverty and the economic inequalities of NAFTA. This was the album that brought me to a global, political perspective and showed me that metal (more than any other form of protest music, including punk) was capable of generating that palpable synergy of energy, awareness, anger, and despair. Even today, it's incendiary stuff.
It's too bad that Sepultura couldn't hang on to this sound. 'Arise' had taken their death/thrash sound as far as it could go. To continue in that vein seemed pointless. Yet 'Roots' fell too far over into simplicity and redundancy. "Chaos A.D." gets it right and sixteen years later remains a vital testament to Sepultura's lasting power.
Or how about the riffs? Where are they?
After the really, really good Arise, Sepultura took a turn for the worse with this effort. Sure, there were already hints of experimentation on Arise, but there the experimental stuff really enhanced Sepultura´s lethal thrash formula. And from here on out, it would only get worse, with the groovy Roots, and the downright boring Against.
Basically, the album feels like a bunch of shit thrown at the wall, and seeing if any of it sticks. This isn´t nearly as bad as Against, which is chock full of filler and random shit, and there is a decent amount of consistency in the actual songs. Sadly, this involves rather boring riffs, and the songs themselves sound really rushed. Simpler is usually better, but on here, it really doesn´t work, especially when it is this hardcore focused stuff that really just kind of plods along. Yeah, you could say that there are some driving moments on here, like "Refuse/Resist" or "Propaganda," as well as "The Hunt," which they did not even write.
It all really just feels like they smoked a shit load of weed and got lazy. "We Who Are Not As Others?" Come on! At least put in some more lyrics! "Kaiowas" is just goofy as all hell, and might have made sense, had the album not contained so many damn songs. And the riffing...there is just no riffing going on, just silly hardcore chugging and chords. I just can´t even begin to place this alongside the first four albums.
The drumming here is very good and powerful, which works to the advantage of the album. In fact, the production is downright heavy. Sadly, the material is boring and disjointed at best. You can´t polish a turd, kids. And Andreas Kisser is really starting to slack in the lead guitar department on here...I´ve always likened him to Kirk Hammet, being that he´s technically very good, and does a few memorable leads, yet doesn´t fully push the envelope. On here, fuck, you don´t even get a memorable lead.
No wrath, no riffs, no Sepultura. I can see the mass appeal of this, the same as I see the appeal of Pantera´s Vulgar Display of Power (which is much better and more consistent), and sadly this is the real slip-up of Sepultura, before they took a massive fucking plummet over the next two albums, and never recovered. This was my first Sepultura album at the age of 13, and though it sounded really cool back then, I since found their past discography and grew out of this album at a rapid pace.
Chaos A.D. is the fifth Sepultura’s full length and it can be considered very innovative looking back the other releases before it. I was 14 years old when I listened first to this one, I loved it and I still love it now. Comparing this album with the others, it is totally different. This album starts the Sepultura groove period that continued with the following, boring and too tribal influenced Roots.
The music here is heavily influenced by Discharge but it can be considered a big mix of hardcore, thrash, tribal music and death metal. Well, the true death metal has a bit (a lot) gone away but some influences can be found in some riffs spread in the album.
The tribal influences started with Arise album where were used only for the intros, but here we have the explosion of these ones, like in Kaiowas song, completely tribal. In this one there are no electric guitar sounds or raw vocals. Just bongos and acoustic guitars. The atmosphere on this song is strange, in some parts is ritualistic…like early brazilian music, made by the natives….in this case we can really see what would have been the group's style in the future.
The first three songs of the album, Refuse/Resist, Territory and Slave New World are the most famous. From the first two ones they took videos concerning the never ending wars in the Middle East. As you can see, also the lyrics have completely changed since their past albums. These lyrics are typical of the hardcore genre; so forget the inner struggles and violence that were a trademark of the group in the past. Biotech Is Godzilla is the fastest song of this album, but not so death metal…massive hardcore influences in the riffs, while Max Cavalera’s way of singing is less growly.
We Who Are Not As Others song is the slowest one, very dark, with strange voices and the refrain sung endlessly. Strange and obscure.
Distortions, noises, loud guitars whistles, obscurity and a lot of differences from the early Sepultura’s albums: this is Chaos A.D.
With this album, Sepultura proved to everybody they didn’t want to be stuck in a genre forever, trying to change and accept various influences also from their mother country. The problem is that after this one, the group wanted to go beyond with the next album, losing lots of old fans.
In my opinion this is the last great Sepultura’s album but I have to warn you, because you must forget about the true death metal, so well done by the group in the past. Innovative but extremely good!!
Okay. What actually happened here? Sepultura were really at their peak on the tour following the 'Arise' album. But how could that be leading to this? Did they feel they didn't have enough midpaced and slow songs in their set and decided to write a bunch and then had an album full of it? We could have seen it coming though. The songs ‘Under Siege’ and ‘Altered State’ from the ‘Arise’ album were actually an indication of a slower style and afterwards turned out to have been an omen for the basis of this ‘Chaos A.D.’ record.
'Refuse/Resist' is the best song here. The only song that remains powerful from start to finish. The heartbeat-intro progressing into Brazilian drums was a good find and it sounds great. Riffs, vocals and solo are solid here and so are Igors drums. Great song. A bit different stylewise from earlier works, but no problems so far....
'Territory' has a lot of groovy doom metal elements and the rhythmical Brazilian drums are quite enjoyable yet they should have been more present throughout the entire song. The extremely slow sections of the song just go on for far too long. It should have been followed by a fast track to keep the album interesting. Although on 'Slave new World' the pace was somewhat increased, one could not speak of an uptempo song. It isn’t until ‘Kaiowas’ that something different finally happens. This accoustic intermezzo with nice rhythms gives the album an extra edge and is the first really interesting thing happening since the opening track. The song however is a bit too long for my taste and at times feels like a jam session instead of a song.
‘Propaganda’ continues the Slave New World and Amen style but is slightly better due to the fact that the pace is somewhat higher and the vocals have a catchy edge. The only truly uptempo song comes next. 'Biotech Is Godzilla' is one of the best songs on the album but isn't Sepultura. It’s a punkrocksong co-written with Jello Biafra (also on guest vocals). Due to the different style and short length it is the kind of song you would normally expect as a bonus track or B-side to a single. It is, however, one of my favorite tracks on the album. ‘Nomad’ and ‘Manifest’ are once again mostly midtempo groovers but on ‘Manifest’ I rather like the whole intro. ‘We Who Are Not as Others’ is really the low point on the album. A doomy and monomtome track on which the title is repeated a lot of times. ‘Clenched Fist’ has a sparce fast moment and therefor actually becomes rather enjoyable. The New Model Army cover ‘The Hunt’ is adequate although I’m missing some guitardetails from the original.
As a whole ‘Chaos A.D.’ was quite a disappointment. The production is good as were a few songs. But not enough to make this a memorable Sepultura release. There are too many Pantera-immitations presented here and not enough thrash nor Brazilian-rhythm moments to make up for the lack of speed. Also Max’ vocals were getting too monotome at certain points here. The album wasn’t exactly bad and I don’t mind owning it and playing it from time to time. If it had been a new band and this would have been their debut, It might have gotten more points. But knowing the quality and intensity their previous four albums…. Ouch…only 60 points
After putting out four albums which were the perfect blend of death and thrash metal with shitloads of riffs, Sepultura seemed to have run out of ideas. They couldn’t come up with any new thrash riffs that were actually good, and the aggression they previously held was slipping away. They wanted to continue however, and so they released the steaming dung heap that would be known as Chaos AD.
See, the boys in Sepultura, having previously written songs with at least six riffs a song played at breakneck speed, weren’t sure how to write another album considering their lack of solid riffs. So they picked some thrash riffs out at random, slowed them down and downtuned to make up for the lack of heaviness. This way they could have an excuse for playing slow to midpaced with a single riff per song, and to the people who said it wasn’t thrash, they could counter them by saying it had a ‘more crushing sound’. They weren’t really that angry as before, but they needed something to make it sound more metal, so they threw in some unintelligent lyrics focused around anti authority. Sure, they weren’t exactly geniuses at writing lyrics on the previous albums, but at least those ones suited the type of music they used to play. Max Cavalera’s voice was starting to go to shit but he couldn’t sing, so instead of doing death-ish screams/growls, he opted for an idiotic sounding shout which was supposed to sound extreme and pissed off, but ended up sounding more annoying than anything else.
That’s really what the album sounds like. When you combine all the aforementioned elements you get a pretty good image in your head of what the content involves. The whole thing drags along in the same pattern, not really changing or evolving or speeding up, just content to stay at the same pace, with the same sounding ‘riffs’, with the same drawn out shouts. As one could expect, this starts to get old quickly. While it isn’t too bad listening to a song every now and then, trying to listen to the whole album is a chore, I myself only having done it once. It just stays the same, not managing to keep the listeners attention for more than five minutes or so. And just when a good riff comes along and manages to make the listener sit up, it is slaughtered by some stupid noises (Manifest), annoying vocals (Biotech is Godzilla) or something else of equal worthlessness. The album is 50 minutes long, but feels as if it should be 20, and the individual songs are too long at only 3 or 4 minutes.
This album is just pointless and worthless. When you consider who released it and the quality of their previous albums it feels as if it is a different band behind it. This isn’t even recommended for people who are heavily into groove metal, and the few highlights (Refuse/Resist and Slave New World) are barely even worth downloading. This is a failure in every sense of the word, and a completely worthless album.
Oh Sepultura, what the hell happened? And why did people encourage you? Many mysteries surround this album from the Brazilian quartet, Where did the album come from? And why did people not jump on them and tell them emphatically "No! Go back"? There were no hints at what the album was going to be like, admittedly, Arise had a lot more crush and a lot less neck breaking thrash, but only in comparison to Schizophrenia and Beneath The Remains. Most of the other bands who had these massive changes have always had clues that it could happen, but really, there weren't any here. They just stopped kicking ass.
As you may have guessed, Sepultura have undergone some changes since Arise. And clearly, they're not very good. The band has adopted a more groove based approach, with the tribal sounds taking a larger hold over the band, rather than just being a cool signature to mix up the speed. Now, I love groove metal and half-thrash, as its where I came into metal from, but this is just bad half-thrash. Almost every riff just sounds so damn boring. I bought this at the height of my half-thrash adoration period, and it still bored me to tears. And yes, this is before I heard any of the earlier albums, so it's not even in comparison, it sucks outright.
Things kick off well enough, Refuse/Resist has a couple of faster thrashish punk riffs in it's arsenal, and I happen to be a fan of Max's lower, louder vocals. Although they do suffer from 'vocal retardation', where the approach of singing makes the vocalist sound like they're retarded. This is usually seen in bad death metal vocalists. Territory has a couple of nice groove riffs as the band shows off it's new half-thrash style, namely tom heavy drumming, and riffs which generally involve a couple of quick notes followed by a drawn out one or two. It's fun for about two songs.
Unfortunately by the time 'Amen' chugs around, everything is kind of dull. And unfortunately doing spoken verses isn't the way to excite people. And you find yourself losing concentration on the music, and thinking about insects in the room, and whether you remembered to put your phone on the charger. And 40 minutes of thinking about unrelated things later, the album finishes, and you can't remember a moment of what you just listened to.
What I don't understand is how they got away with this, most people will tell you to go out and buy this one first, even people who hate the new stuff. It just doesn't make sense, Sepultura were never really a band you listened to for variation, or overt technicality, neither of which are present here, but hell they had so much energy, and really, that was it. If you take away that energy Sepultura are just an average band with a slight change in sound because they're not from a standard geographical area. That's it...
The production on offer is meaty and as heavy as possible, which is a good choice if moving into a half-thrash sound. Oh how Vio-lence missed that on 'Nothing to Gain'. At least that album had great music being played, this one doesn't have that, it only has the right production.
Guitar wise, there's some problems, Max Cavelara and Andreas Kisser both put in dull performances. None of the riffs have any bite, or are really all that catchy, it's like Pantera without any drive behind it, it's just some low notes being played after each other with no reason. The soling is pretty shit too, but not too many groove bands had great soloists in them.
Most of the faster riffs come across as punk to me, just like with Nailbomb I'm pretty sure it's the name which makes people say 'that's a thrash riff' instead of a punk riff. Manifest has some cool stuff, but the only other song which tries to pick up speed, 'Biotech is Godzilla', is ruined beyond imagination by the lyrics and the pathetic little add-ins after the chorus, such as the nauseatingly bad 'Godzilla... raaar'. This sort of shit happens much too often too, such as the stupid laughing at the ends of a couple of songs.
The drumming here is actually pretty nice, being a half-thrash fan, I love it when the drums get a big say in the sound, and Igor certainly has some fun with his new production, as the massive drum sound does suit his very powerful drumming. As with all Sepultura albums, the bass is insignificant.
Vocally, Max is a little excessive in his desire to be heavy. I like them, but he tends to sounds a bit mentally challenged as he slurs his words stupidly. Very much a personal taste and can easily piss people off. Lyrically, he is disgraceful, 'We Who Are Not As Others' has the title as it's only lyrics. And yes, it's a full song, Max just repeats the title a dozen times. Of course you have your un-knowledgeable protest songs, such as the previously mentioned 'Biotech...', which seems to be like Max just thought, 'biological engineering sounds bad, I think I don't like it... I wonder what it involves, never mind, It's just bad, like Godzilla', and then wrote a bunch of stupid lyrics. Most of the other songs take the idea of 'We Who Are Not As Others', and extended that notion out to 3 verses and a chorus.
Overall this an poor album, in fact it outright sucks, and wouldn't even garner attention if it weren't for the albums before it. There's a few good riffs on some of the songs, Manifest, and The Hunt Come to mind, and the grooves are catchy enough on Territory, but for the main part, this is a terrible album, and should have been a black mark in the bands history, but people an embraced it, and now look what we have... Thanks fans.
This album pretty much embodies the principle reason why I hate the vast majority of groove metal albums. We have random vocal grunts and barks that are supposed to articulate masculinity and aggression, repetitive and over simplified riffs often consisting of two or three notes, way too much emphasis on the drums, nonsensical lyrics that would make the staunchest of anarchists embarrassed of his ideology, and a sheer lack of speed. You could sum this album up as being a half-assed rehash of Pantera’s “Vulgar Display of Power” with a heavy Brazilian accent, even less standout songs, and a complete lack of coherence in the arrangement.
Although the vast majority of the riffs on here are over-simplified groove drones that induce testicle shrinkage in the listener, the few leads found on here succeed in achieving the opposite extreme. While Dimebag Darrel was a sort of saving grace within the fatal mediocrity of Pantera’s sound, Andreas Kisser succeeds only in making random noises due to overuse of the whammy bar and effects pedals, sounding more like random computer generated sounds than guitar solos. The worst offender is the lead break found on “Territory”, although similarly forgettable collections of half cocked improvised nonsense can be found on several other songs (Biotech is Godzilla anyone?), to speak nothing for the occasional high ends drones that probably inspired Korn like the one found at the intro of “Propaganda”.
Some of the songs on here might pass for decent punk rock songs if the vocals weren’t so damned terrible and the words so ridiculous. “Biotech is Godzilla” (what a stupid name) could almost pass for an SOD song if the singing wasn’t so poorly done. “Slave New World” has a couple of solid riffs that come and go, but Max Cavalera’s voice track completely buries them. The same thing could also be said about “Propaganda” and “Amen”, both of which would sound like decent Pantera songs if the mix was more even and the guitars could be heard clearly.
The remaining stuff on here is forgettable, disappointing, or just flat out annoying. “Refuse, Resist” takes my pick for the worst song on the album, featuring a sleep inducing principle riff consisting of two notes, and a plodding beat that makes Machine Head sound like MegaDeth circa 1986. The cover of “The Hunt” would be decent, but is utterly destroyed by the vocals, despite not being as ridiculously high in the mix as with the other songs. “Kaiowas” is a rather annoying acoustic jam session guising as some kind of protest song, featuring ideas that sound akin to hillbilly folk music. Actor Christopher Lee once quoted a person as saying “You should try everything except incest and folk dancing”, but it seems that the boys in Sepultura felt differently.
To put it plainly, if you like metal in any of its variants, avoid this album. Even if you like groove metal (why you would I’ll never know), there is better stuff out there carrying that label. I bought this album thinking I was picking up the latest release by a band credited as influential in the thrash/death genre, and boy was I in for a rude awakening. If you are overcome with a desire to own it nonetheless, take the advice of the first song, REFUSE!
So sue me, I'm open minded. While everybody else thinks that Sepultura effectively died after "Arise" (a classic album of theirs, I agree), some folks are being unfair to this album. This was, for me anyway, the last gasp of Sepultura as a thrash-oriented band before they went into nu-metal/fellating Ross Robinson mode, and instead of a gasp it's more a final bellow of defiance, if you ask me.
Yes, they began incorporating the tribal elements more, yes, they slowed down the tempos more, but there is still plenty of aggression to be found here, plenty of speed still. The title track is one of the slower ones, but to me it reeks of attitude, and is a statement of "Hey, get off your ass and do something! Don't let 'em grind you down!", and likewise for "Territory", which is powerful and solid, a good strong headbanging groove. The latter also features a sweet little otherworldly solo break from the underrated Andreas Kisser.
"Nomad" brings the groove some more, as does the only other throwaway track here, "We Who Are Not As Others"--I could've done without that one even years after the fact. And "Manifest" is an abrasive and lurching industrial-flavored track with screeching atonal guitar parts and distorted spoken vocals that I still think is quite creepy. But there's still lots of speed and aggression, as I already mentioned; "Biotech is Godzilla" is a frenzied heads-down charge through hardcore punk territory, and "Slave New World", while not thrash per se, delivers a slamming up-tempo jolt as well. The New Model Army cover is pretty close to the original, actually, but tuned down a little lower and with Max' guttural yelling instead of Justin Sullivan's smooth and passionate baritone, and while it's not essential to the album I like it anyway because it shows they have good taste in music other than metal, for one thing.
Their sociopolitical commentary became even more pronounced on this album too, with songs like "Manifest", an account of a Brazilian prison riot fuelled by police brutality, and "Biotech is Godzilla" which ends with the inflammatory statement "Biotech...is AIDS!" in case anybody was wondering. "Nomad" speaks of indigenous tribal peoples being sold out and ripped off by the "civilized" world as imperialism continues to this day, and the brief break of tribal chanting and percussion near the end is haunting. "Kaiowas", while intriguing, is another throwaway ultimately as it really doesn't do anything for the album's pacing or atmosphere.
In the long run, this album holds up well enough to count as a good effort that showed Sepultura still had the potential to rouse the punters. I still like it just fine, myself, and I'd encourage people to at least give it a chance and be open minded about it before trashing it.
This is not as bad as some people make it out to be but it’s not brilliant either. The guitar riffs are much more simplistic this time round and the album becomes pretty boring during the second half. Refuse/Resist is a good opener and is one of the band’s most popular songs. However, it’s quite obvious this is not thrash. There is a faster section before the solo that’s cool but it goes back to the groove riff for the rest of the song.
Territory has some very nice drumming at the start and the rest of the song is quite good. Slave New World is one of the better songs. It’s a got a faster pace to it and is a straightforward headbanger. Propaganda is closer we get to thrash and it’s an enjoyable listen. The last track of note is Biotech Is Godzilla which is the fastest song on here. However, it’s shorter than it could have been and it sounds more like hardcore punk than thrash.
The rest of the album is quite boring. This is where the tribal stuff really starts to rear its ugly head. It doesn’t quite reach the depths of the album following this but it’s already well on its way.
This is a disappointing effort. It’s a far cry from the thrashing goodness of Schizophrenia, Beneath The Remains and even Arise. Having said that, it’s still far better than any album they did after this.
I liked this a lot when I first got my hands on it, even though I always knew it was no match for anything they’d done before. Time was when the whole groove thing was not such a huge commonality, so this album would doubtless have sounded better on its release than today. Not personally overloaded with it, I took quite a liking to this grooved up Sepultura who still retained plenty of the thrash temperament to keep me happy. This squarely marks a transition from their “Arise” period to the sound found on the “Roots” album. It’s a decent midpoint that lacks the former greatness, but also thankfully lacks the dull aching music of their next development.
The formula peaks at certain points and dips into a sludgy tedium near the end. Even though the music never sounds especially sludgy, that’s the tired and muddy feel it gives off. Max is gruff as ever, and the rest of the band is enthusiastically charged up with a mix clearly emphasising the vocals and guitars. There’s lots of promise as “Refuse/Resist” opens neatly and departs before it wears out its welcome in predictably strong opener fashion displaying qualities typical of the album as a whole, and “Territory” just crushes everything in its wake with a mid paced crunch overload.
“Slave New World” is a reasonable, if numbly reconstituted continuation of the last track and things pick up again on “Amen”. This song makes an admirable attempt to make a flowing atmosphere of questioning and rejection, throwing in a complementing Middle Eastern flavour during the middle. It sounds pleasingly like a Chaos A.D. variant of “Under Siege”. “Kiaowas” moulds a welcome new face for the album as acoustic guitars and tribal percussion recorded within castle walls build up an instrumental full of stirring passions. It’s nice to see them further some of the hints in this direction that thinly surfaced on “Arise”.
Things then go back to basics as “Propaganda” is the most “thrash” song on the slate so far. Deliciously brutal and angry, and “Biotech is Godzilla” is a shorter and much quicker burst, though a sizeably more passable variant of this. A wilderness of savage sound is what dominates the rest of the album, taking its cue from “Nomad”. Like an animal lying in wait stalking its prey, the rest of the album takes its sweet time in prowling through each song. It does sound interesting and workable, but could potentially swing either way and goes both. As more tribal overtones and harmony guitars flurry around the mostly instrumental “We Who Are Not As Others” the album could just come to a satisfactory close and wouldn’t have lost a thing.
They decide they want to pad out the running time with a bit of filler however, and a break into more upbeat tone with a New Model Army cover is still tiresome. They try to go all experimental in doing a narrative passage to the music in “Manifest”, but it ends up dry and without any creative fuel in its engine; plodding and directionless. They also do some really silly shit at the end after (same old story) “Clenched Fist”, doing inane laughs and noises for a couple of minutes (ones for the end of the instrumental earlier) that I really don’t want to hear. Apart from this, while it’s not “Arise” by any means it’s still quite enjoyable and is to me their last good release before they hit rock bottom.
One listen to this album and its immediately shown some kind of diabolical change has occurred in the past couple years. Arise was a bit of step down from Beneath the Remains but it was still fucking fast and had some nice riffs packed in every song. You wouldn’t expect both elements be gone with this release but alas. Now the production is really good on this album which is one good thing. Igor is on top of his game now that the music is so slow it gives him room to be really creative. Max’s voice sure kind of took a little spill though not to mention the absence of all good riffs. I guess they used so many good riffs in the last three albums they got drained. At best this album is slightly thrashy and when it’s bad it’s horrible. Like Amen with its boring as fuck slow plodding riffs and the industrial touches they’ve thrown in. But it’s still better than some give it credit for. Manifest is still a nice fast addition. The first three songs are pretty good as well.
It starts with a usual ‘noise’ type opener but wait instead of a beautiful thrash riff there comes in this alien industrial garbage. Surely after that maybe a decent thrash riff should come in. Not really just a mid-tempo forgettable riff. Now this song would be a lot fuckin better by itself but no this is Sepultura this should be a whole lot more. Well it speeds up with a great section for a good solo which definitely saves it, but slows itself back down again and ends with the same effects it began with. Holy shit Territory starts out impressive. Or I should say Igor Calavera does. Nice tribal drums and the guitar comes in, this seems like its going to be quite enjoyable. Goddamnit it slows down again. But its still is a nice brutal riff complemented with equal drums. Slave New World starts out with an ok mid tempo riff and well stays that way throughout the song. Again nice drumming. Ouch, Amen is just shit. Very slow, uninteresting music with some weird tribal voice sections thrown in. Kaiowas is well… interesting. Nothing to wrong with experimenting but this is supposed to be a thrash album. It’s done with acoustic guitars and Brazilian percussion. They pull it off well live though. Propaganda is an all right song though I’m dying to thrash though it never quite makes it. Once it starts it sounds promising enough (except Max’s lyrics, I mean come on “Why don’t you realize that your fucked up!!”) but becomes boring after a few listens. Biotech is Godzilla is a super fast song but is kinda silly and doesn’t quite sound like Lobotomy or anything. Nomad is another plodding slow song that would be boring but somehow remains interesting with the riffs. Manifest is one of faster songs on the album is probably the highlight but could’ve been better without the industrial crap. The Hunt is a forgettable cover. Clenched Fist starts off horribly and doesn’t get any better until about 1:39 where it gets really nice and thrashy. Really stupid lyrics; every time Max says “Soul! Mind!” I get a sinking feeling in my gut how close that is to his “Soul Fly!” yelling.
The reason this album seems so bad at first is because it followed some of the best thrash albums around. But after listening to Roorback you’ll think this was Beneath the Remain.
Highlights: Territory, Manifest, and well those are the only essential tracks from this one.
If you like Roots you’ll probably like this, otherwise you will be disappointed.
As many critics of this album said, this record put down the basic lines of mallcore, due to the progressive commercialization of thrash metal (Pantera and all the anti-"post-thrash" sellouits theories are the main example of this campaign of hatred, which is unfair confronting to all the gems Pantera offered to the main thrash current.)
I've never been a Sepultura hardcore, but I still had appreciated the Arise album. This didn't made me feel Chaos A.D. was crap. The variety of the grooves (I hate talking about "grooves", but anyhoo!) makes it an experimental album on an experimental path, which will lead to the horrible stuff Sepultura get around right now.
Somehow, I could still recognize an incredible skill of Igor behind the drums; the touch of tribalism put on the songs, with plenty of wooden bells, samba-like percussions and stuff like this is an improvement, not necessary but at least not annoying. Max, to my opinion, has made the choice to seem never-endingly growling, and I wouldn't blame him for his eventual technical limits. Guitar riffs are quite heavy, with small solos and power strums, in Sepultura style...which means they're always the same. This leads to have all the tracks with identical riffs, but plenty of different rythms and stuff added to not make you see the riff is the same from the previous song.
Maybe it's compensation for Arise, when the drums were always the same and the riffs changed play by play.
This must be a complete joke, right? After Arise, which had plenty of groove but also plenty of riffs, they put out... this?? This doesn't even function well as punk rock, it's that sloppy and that careless and that seemingly done without regard to making music.
What this can be described as best is a vocal track over random instrumentation, where the two are entirely disjoint and appear to have been recorded in separate studios. Instrumentally, the whole damn thing sounds like one really long intro to a thrash album, with the slow riffs that come in and any minute now - really, any time now, come on folks, you expect this to blast out into some screaming riffage.
The closest thing that this comes to screaming riffage is the intro to Slave New World, which is a bit above midpaced, and for the most part sounds like a punk rock song... not quite thrash enough to be thrash, but at least it doesn't sound like someone is trying to pass a bowel movement.
The rest of the album... yep, it's pure defecation. Including Max's constipated vocals being mixed far too loud in the mix... these aren't death growls; these are random barks. And they are about 9dB too loud for anyone's good. All you hear is this megalomaniac asshole talking with his funny accent, like a badly designed Hitler making a badly designed speech.
The whole FUCKING album sounds like that. Believe me, it's funny for the first ten seconds or so (Chaos AD, tanks on the streets!) but then you start wondering if the whole thing ever turns into anything musical, ever.
Aside from the brief moments here and there, the answer is, no it does not ever turn into anything musical. The only digressions from the random Machine Head sounding half-Pantera riffs (does that make them quarter-thrash??) are silly instrumentals like Kaiowas - that little acoustic guitar bit sounds more Fleetwood Mac than anything else, except Fleetwood Mac didn't sound like a 33rpm LP stuck on repeat, ever. And I can still hear you saying, you - and I can still hear you saying, you - and I can still hear you saying... OH AND TURN THOSE FUCKING DRUMS DOWN.
Oh yeah, the cover of The Hunt? Everyone calls this a highlight... the only thing that's any good about it is that the vocals are turned down a bit, and it's a bit more catchy than the rest; but not nearly enough to make it any memorable.
Complete shit here from the cunts of Brasil. Again, I don't think this is a serious record. Like Bathory's "Octagon", they probably thought that people would - given the quality of the first four albums - buy anything with a 'Sepultura' tag on it.
Well, don't buy this shit. It's completely without value. Good grief, it's worse than the first Machine Head album. There's pretty much nothing catchy here - not the opening riff to Refuse-Resist, not anywhere else. Okay maybe the first few seconds of Manifest (before they get into the random stupidity), and about half of Slave New World, but come on, even Regurgitated Cow Fetus could come up with a minute and a half of thrash among forty-eight minutes of pure shit.
Chaos A.D. is totally different from the previous Sepultura releases. This isn't thrash like BTR/Arise or Schizophrenia, this album has more variety and has hardcore/groove/tribal influences.
The opening track Refuse/Resist shows what this album is about. tribal drumming and a very catchy riffs. Max vocals on this album are really amazing, his vocals are really agressive and powerfull. The next song is "Territory" which also starts with the tribal drumming, for a lot of Sepultura fans this is one of the best Sepultura songs. Slave new world and Amen are decent songs but nothing really interesting.
Kaiowas is an instrumental (tribal) song.
Propaganda is one my favourite Sepultura songs ever, this song also starts with an drum intro and then there is the catchy riff again. This song is so powerfull, (especially live) the drumming of Igor Cavalera keeps amazing me every time I listen to this song.
Biotech is godzilla is a real hardcore track, but still very enjoyable. Nomad is simply amazing, this song isn't fast but so brutal. Max vocals on this track are almost scary, so powerfull! This track shows that Sepultura really changed, no fast brutal thrash but still really agressive/heavy music. Another example of the change of Sepultura is Manifest, this track starts fast and thrashy and by the end of the track you are listening to some brutal hardcore breakdowns.
The rest of the songs are just decent, but not really interesting just like Amen and Slave new world.
Overall I still really love this album! Songs like Territory and Nomad make this release one of the best things Sepultura has ever done.
I really recommend this release to any metalhead who can appreciate more then one genre.
Stand out tracks : Refuse/Resist, Territory, Propaganda and NOMAD!