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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.