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Despite how dull this album is, it has trumped everything Sepultura has done for a long time. From "Spectrum" and its cryptic opener to the well-rounded, thrash-friendly production job, Sepultura have created something padded but listenable. After all these years of bomb after bomb toying with the worst tough guy groove and dick posturing hardcore, the band finally achieves... mediocrity. Bask in it, Sepultura, you've earned it.
Those looking for a more thrash-sounding Sepultura should (in theory) love this album as if it was some weirder continuation of old. The band tries what Dante XXI did by throwing in metallic hardcore and proper thrash to create something intense once again. The clearer production throws out that muddy sound that A-Lex had. Despite the number of energetic riffs, hooks, and pummeling drums, this album rarely reaches a level that surpasses plodding. The title track's harmonics, the melodeath tendencies (very In Flames influenced) of "Dialog", and the Kreator-edginess of "Seethe" and "Mask" create diversity that was missing for quite a while. None of it is fantastic, but it finally shows the band breaking out of their slump.
Only two things have shown no improvement. One, of course, is Derrick Green and his pathetic harsh yelling. The man has been in the band since the '90s and he still has the same coarse vocals barking ridiculous lyrics. His strengths as a vocalist are very poor, and once more they bring down the rest of the music. His simplicity is only matched by the number two issue - the plainness of these songs. Kairos is a better album than before, but it's still tedious as hell. Even the Ministry cover, an industrial classic, becomes plodding, uneventful rubbish. In between these short filler tracks are even shorter filler tracks that try to create an atmosphere of dread. They fail, and accomplished nothing but satisfying Sepultura's need for albums with too many tracks.
A real comeback is impossible at this point, but if there is anything resembling even the faintest hints of one, then Kairos is it. It's the Sepultura that Sepultura were too afraid to comprehend back on Dante XXI. It's the one that has some sort of dignity as it begins to distance itself from the tired groove from before. It's the one that can lead to something more respectable in the future. It doesn't have to be another Beneath The Remains, but please just let it be something good.
Ok, a lot of people is getting impressed with the new Sepultura’s album, named Kairos. I do understand this surprise, because this album breaks a sequence of hardcore based albums released by the band in the past few years. Sepultura’s music has passed through a profound transformation since Max Cavalera’s departure in 1996. Kairos is definitely an attempt to bring back the aggressive and raw sonority the band had before Roots. So there are a few things to be said:
Hardcore and Tribal influences
Talking about the music, since the first valid track (I mean, a non introductory track, because there are 3 of them, not to mention the covers) we see that Sepultura has left behind the tribal influences in this album. So, if you’re expecting Brazilian native sounds like explored in the previous releases, you won’t found them here. Kairos almost sounds like a pure thrash metal album. Of course there are tracks in which the hardcore influence is still perceptive, but as a whole, Kairos is much more similar to Arise and Chaos A.D. than Roots, Nation, Against or any other.
Speed and Riffs
Kairos is a fast album. At least when we compare it with other recent releases of the band. Songs like the album title, “Kairos”, could be easily inserted in Chaos A.D. without disturbing the album sonority. The speed increases as the album advances. The riffs are more simple and, even with the fact they do not show anything completely new, are the clearest examples that Sepultura tried to go back in time. A proof is “Sethe” which contains 10 seconds of pure Slayer influenced trash metal: fast and noisy. The other tracks are also rapid, like “Relentless” and “Mask”, with good guitar variations.
Andreas, Derrick and Jean, the new drummer Jean had the responsibility to replace one of the greatest metal drummers of all times, Igor Cavalera, and he surprised me for the good job done. It’s precise, without much advanced technique, and what really matters, fits perfectly to what Sepultura intended, in my opinion, to sound like: a pure thrash/death metal band. So, do not expect to hear more than regular beats and double pedals. Derrick vocals, that I always considered poor, are pretty good in this album. They sound more strong and constant, not having volume and potency variations. But what is really worth to say is that finally Andreas Kisser has returned to the old great times of pure, creative and fast guitar solos! Ok, I’m a fan of his work, but it’s impressive the way he plays each of the tracks in Kairos, inserting more aggressiveness to the songs. Pay attention to what he does in “Kairos”, “Relentless” and “Born Strong”.
So, this new album is worthy to listen to, and shows a much more mature Sepultura, trying to recover its good old roots of thrash/death influences.
Let me first start by saying that I WAS a massive Sepultura fan from long ago. Like Metallica, Iron Maiden and Anthrax, Sepultura was one of the first bands which got me into heavy metal and they’ll forever hold a special place in my music collection for changing my life all those years ago. Firstly hearing ‘Chaos A.D.’ and then it’s predecessors ‘Beneath The Remains’ and ‘Arise’ before ‘Roots’ was released, I remember back in 1996 when “Roots Bloody Roots” was my #1 song of choice for almost a year and it was pretty much all I listened to. Things change however, and to my horror in December 1996 I find out that Max Cavalera has left the band to form Soulfly and while my excitement and anticipation grew for Soulfly, it began to decline for Sepultura when ‘Against’ was released, about two years later.
Not just me, but there was also a decline within the general population of Sepultura fans, with Max gone Sepultura and their music would not be the same. And it wasn’t, there’s no denying that; the Sep’s presence in the metal world fell away quickly and years later looked like a fallen god, lost, weak and a shadow of their former selves. Vocalist Derrick Green is hands down a great singer, suited very well for what Sepultura were looking for as a replacement to Max, and overall a logical choice. His raspy, emotional and anger-tinged tones capture what Sepultura are about and without him behind the mic I do wonder how badly this band could have fallen.
Despite the weaker calibre of albums post ‘Roots’, both ‘Against’, ‘Nation’ and possibly ‘Roorback’ still contained some weight and packed a punch, while ‘Dante XXI’ and ‘A-Lex’ were decent at best and really failed to make a huge impression. Some positives though, there were still plenty of gems to be found scattered throughout those 5 releases. The best of those include: “Choke”, “Against”, “Sepulnation”, “Border Wars”, “Come Back Alive”, “Mind War”, “Convicted in Life”, “Buried Words”, “What I Do” and “Conform”.
So then it became a big surprise to me when I was able to listen to the first single of Sepultura’s latest album (their 12th) entitled ‘Kairos’, that being the title track of the album and my jaw literally dropping to the floor as the track was playing between my ears. There’s something different about this Sepultura album was the first sensation I got from the single. Eager to get my hands on the new album to hear the entire disc, my first reactions were right. ‘Kairos’ is indeed different than the last few albums, there’s a spark, a burning flame that I haven’t felt in a Sepultura album in nearly 10 years.
For starters, they don’t cram in the song-writing into a two minute track that sounds more like a crash ‘n’ bash session. Yes, there is one track which does go for 2:27, but that’s the only one. The others (excluding the interludes) range between 3:30-4:30 and the song-writing is much better, where the band has allowed time to spread out and not go hell for leather for two minutes something and that’s it. The tracks are also much more consistent than on recent albums, where pretty much every track is above average and contains much more grunt, groove and catchiness for the first time in a long time. This time round Sepultura have gone with quality over quantity and that is the biggest difference and improvement on this disc.
Sepultura have a great track record giving cover songs the Sep treatment; take a listen to “The Hunt”, “Orgasmatron”, “Procreation of the Wicked”, “Symptoms of the Universe” and “Bullet the Blue Sky” as previous examples. This time round on ‘Kairos’, Sepultura have covered Ministry’s hit song “Just One Fix” (there is also a bonus track which is a cover of The Prodigy’s “Firestarter”). Both covers are done quite well and it shows that Sepultura are not afraid to cover non-metal songs. But it’s the original material that we are eager to hear about and I can confidently say that ‘Kairos’ is the most consistent and catchy Sepultura album in over 10 years. Possibly even their best CD in the Derrick Green era of Sepultura. I’m not saying that they have gone back to their 90’s greatness in sound, however listening to the album; the sound of ‘Kairos’ is a mixture of ‘Nation’, ‘Roorback’ and ‘Dante XXI’, but with more grit, more groove, more catchiness and also a new and improved change of direction of their song-writing. Whatever the change that was made, it has worked...finally.
“Spectrum” is the CD opener and it is a powerful start to the album. With a classic old school thrashy guitar riff that is eventually joined by the bass guitar and then drums, the main melody rips into gear with Derrick’s raspy vocals raining down with conviction. The beat/melody together is catchy as hell and you can’t help but beat your head to. Eventually the riffs speed up towards the middle of the track before Andreas’ guitar solo takes flight. It’s a ripping start that every almost Sep fan can agree on. Another kick track on the album is the exceptional “Mask”, being the one of the best and catchiest as well. Featuring a wicked groove/thrash metal riff during the verses and an aggressive and memorable chorus, the track is quite powerful, passionate and easily one of the best Derrick Green era Sepultura songs. Other tracks that will get the fist pumping and air guitars wailing would be the impressive dark tinged title track “Kairos”, the strong and speedy “Relentless”, the infectious power grooves of “Born Strong” and the thrashy aggression of “No One Will Stand”.
In the end, I was left quite surprised of the quality of this album. Coming into it with not very high expectations, and really only listening to it out of respect for the band who helped get me into metal, I came away very satisfied and very impressed. Sepultura have released their best album in a long time and hopefully I am not alone with that opinion. Fans of the Sep’s should give this CD a chance and they should not be disappointed, while fans of groove/thrash metal should also enjoy what is on offer here. It just goes to show that even without any of the Cavalera’s, Sepultura can still produce an exceptional disc. That win goes to the massive improvement in the song-writing and here’s hoping that ‘Kairos’ is a large stepping stone to even bigger things for this band.
Originally written for www.themetalforge.com
Though a 'true' reunion with Max Cavalera has been in demand for many years, Sepultura is one of the few internationally renowned metal bands to have not repealed its new front man. You've got to admire such resolve, because the pressure must have been huge this past decade, with thrash coming back in full swing and lots of fans, old and new shelling out hard currency for new albums with classic lineups, reunion tours, etc. That being said, I've yet to hear a single Derrick Greene fronted Sepultura record which I could place upon the same plateau of quality achieved early on with albums like Chaos A.D., Beneath the Remains, and Schizophrenia.
Sure, they've tried, and individual tracks from albums like Nation and Against have had their moments, but it just doesn't seem to be working out for me. I just can't get into the guy's vocals. Technically, he's got a broader range of styles, yet I've felt as if the band were always missing something without Max's gruff if misguided presence. Kairos, the band's 12th album, is an appeal to the past, the band returning almost wholly to the simplistic thrash riffing that placed them on the map in the footfalls of Slayer, Possessed and other primal giants of the form. It's not so much a mirror into the band's 80s catalog as it is a second attempt at a Chaos A.D., and the decision to include various external influences (primarily industrial) into the social political, tribal and 'feel good' lyrics only reinforces its retread grounds.
Alas, the Brazilian superstars have once again come up short, and Kairos is yet another quizzical full-length that begs the question: how does Sepultura sustain itself off about 15 years of middling and underwhelming composition? Are the classics still such huge hits on tour? Is the fan base in total denial? Did they invest in a successful stock portfolio in the mid 90s? To think, there is practically an entire generation now of fans who have grown up with Green. I guess the band must be doing something right, even if the quality of their output seems so borderline wrong...
Kairos does attempt to be that Sepultura record everyone's been waiting for since 1993 (or in the case of many Chaos A.D. haters, 1991). A few of the early birds ("Spectrum", "Kairos") have relatively hypnotic, basal mute thrash rhythms which build expectations rather high, and then defecate all over them, as they go basically nowhere. Green cycles between his emotionally charged, Phil Anselmo snarls, somber narrative tones, and the straight up caustic style which is his best, and the band just phones in a handful of primitive beats and rhythms which never build up enough fire to resurrect the momentum of yesteryear. There are some creative leads tossed about the track list, and a handful of curious riffs that rekindle the band's 1989-93 personality (like the ringing guitar line in "Born Strong"), but there never seems to be more than one, or possible two little rhythms worth a damn anywhere.
Like Chaos A.D., there are the expectant moments of versatility and experimentation, manifest here through some minor ambient segues ("2011", "5722"), and industrial pieces: the first a cover of Ministry's "Just One Fix", plays rather close to the original version, with some South of Heaven-style leads thrown in at the end. The second, a Sepultura original called "Structure Violence" which blends the tribal, groove and industrial elements into what is at least the most interesting overall song on the entire album. But the remainder of the album is nothing more than the law of averages being spun repeatedly. "Mask" might have a decent riff tucked into its bridge, but in getting there one must survive its tedious grooves. "Dialog" opens with a latent melody to its muted, driving chords, but fails to flower into anything worthwhile. Then you have pieces like "Seethe", the same pedestrian hardcore/groove metal the band have been releasing to no avail for the decade before this.
By this point it must seem like I've a serious hate on for this album, but that's not at all the case. Kairos is not bad. In fact, it's mildly more appealing than the band's hot selling, tribal nu-metal effort Roots, and there are a half dozen riffs I could single out which would have been quite ace in a more potent environment (Max Cavalera vocals optional). The production does the album a measure of justice, being crisp and poignant, and Jean Dolabella attempts to keep the simplicity of the song structures adaptive and interesting with his drumming. But the music and lyrics are in general pretty undeveloped (like "Mask", which almost reads like a cheesy, preemptive backlash against the internet generation who have hounded the band for a decade), and at the most its a pale shadow of something like Chaos A.D., which was for its time felt so original due to the tremendous grooving force, and cultural and local political influence. Kairos is just kind of 'all right', and once again, that's just not enough.
How long has it been? What, 12-15 years since their last last buyable album in 'Roots'? I say buyable, but I saw that album as the one that started this downward trend for so many years. That nu-metal garbage that they practically created with 'Chaos A.D.' went full blown on 'Roots'. It apparently was a big genre for a while there, might still be if I look closely into it, but I don't want to torture myself. It's easy. It's the easy way out of actually having to write multiple riffs on one track like they did in the thrash metal days. Any moron can do it. Just down tune your guitar and start playing rhythm guitar all day long. Max Cavalera made a career out of it with Soulfly. I honestly don't get his appeal and why his shit bands get more recognition than Sepultura. But with releases like 'Against', 'Nation' and 'Dante XXI' it wasn't like the material was clearly better than his.
I don't get Max's appeal, he looks like he needs a shower in the worst possible way with that rat hair on his head, he could shave once every 2 weeks and he could lay off the donuts and beers too. Derrick Green is so much better of a vocalist and just as charismatic (if not more) on stage than Max ever was. At least Mr. Green looks like he just came from a track meet just before the show. He's energetic, enthusiastic, very charming and intelligent on stage. He is a winner of a choice for a replacement. But they just could not come up with a good album, I'm not expecting a great release. I have modest standards for them. I blame that solely on Andreas Kisser. He's the creative mind and main decision maker of the band. He's got the talent, no doubt. We've seen it on display at shows and on their best albums. But it never translated on their recent or "post Max" catalog. As you hear the Soulfly releases you know Sepultura wouldn't have been much better with Max had he stayed anyway. I'm just tired of that "jumpdafuckup!" teenage nu metal which evolved under the guise of groove metal today.
So I went to a recent show here in NYC and I was impressed. The band sounded real tight and energized. I said I would give them a chance with the new album. I got it and it was exciting to hear them sound good again. I hoped for this lineup to finally release an album that would shake the shadow of Max over them. 'Kairos' is that album. I see a few key things that changed the outcome. 1.) They signed to a new, well known label that had fully backed them up in Nuclear Blast and 2.) the addition of new drummer Jean Dolabella. He adds a freshness, new vitality. youthfulness that the band desperately needed. I saw him in their last show and he is better than Igor Cavalera. He was out of this world in concert. I understand he appeared on 'A-Lex' before, but that album already started a positive upward trend in Sepultura's sound and improvement overall. The band were heading in the right path from there and we get this album.
From the moment we hear 'Spectrum' we get suspiciously optimistic. While this is the first legitimate "thrash" album they've done in 20 years there's still leftovers of groove and downtuning here and there. It's the modern guitar sound to be honest. I doubt it's really going to go away anytime soon. 'Relentless' is an instant hit on their hands if they release it as a single. The cover of Ministry's 'Just One Fix' is actually pretty good. It doesn't sound out of place here. 'Dialog' is a good track, keeps the flow going. Not anything special. 'Mask' however is much better and I love it. It's as thrash as the band can get nowadays and I hope they make an entire album off this sound next time. 'Seethe' continues the trash elements and once again is a memorable track. 'Born Strong' keeps the speed up and at this point I can confirm this album's superiority over anything else in the last 15 years for this band. I can't remember the last time I heard a string of good songs in a row on a post Max album, if ever.
The run from 'Mask' all the way to the 'No One Will Stand' is what makes this album more than merely good. The closer 'Structure (Azzes)' is different sounding from the previous 5-6 tracks with a tribal rhythm in it. The three instrumental tracks here add almost nothing to the album outside of 30 seconds of relief from the joy you get from knowing that this band got it right. I can't believe how long it took for Andreas Kisser to get the message that we need the thrash back. The tunes and the most importantly the riffs are back again. Derrick Green always delivers, Jean Dolabella brings back some intensity to the band and it was about time Andreas Kisser matched them. What about Paulo Jr.? I suppose he keeps the ship afloat, the stability they need. That's all I can add there.
What Sepultura lost when Max left was a face, a mascot. The human representation of the band outside of the logo and album covers. The magazine cover man, the one where people look in the stands for. People who didn't know any better thought Max was Sepultura and a lot of You Tube and Metal Archives trolls still think that. Probably because they're too lazy to care, or being trolls to annoy the still present fanbase out there. These guys were too talented to quit because Max left. They were a band before and even more so today. There's a sense of team spirit, unification against the masses. Against the people who didn't think they were still capable of what they knew deep down inside. And that's to be a great band again.