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It’s the meaning of the word “controversial”. It’s the hate fodder for older Sepultura fans. We could consider it as the biggest turning point in the Brazilian thrashers’ career (actually, step backwards for most metal heads). Ladies and gentlemen, here it is, fresh from the album “Roots”, Ratahamatta!
But hey, that’s enough with the cringey introduction. Let’s get to the point of the review. To be honest, I really hate the fact that I like this song. Beside a few exceptions, I dislike nu metal (or mallcore, or whatever you like) because of the extensive use of turntables and the annoying, childish lyrics. But sadly, I have to admit, this is one of my guilty pleasures. The riffs are simple yet pretty fun, while the table scratching gives the track a Brazilian tribe music vibe, which makes it quite original. I also give it some bonus points for the usage of the Brazilian language (I love listening to metal songs in other languages beside English).
However, I am able to recognize that the song is fairly bad in many levels. Let’s begin with the lyrics. Who the actual hell thought that singing random words that don’t mean anything combined would be a good idea? And what is that “Hello uptown, hello downtown” etc. supposed to mean? It sounds like SpongeBob greeting his neighbors on Sunday morning. But it could also be a hidden message, something that we, common mortals can’t even imagine of. I’ll leave it to anyone’s fantasy.
Next, I’ll go with the music. The turntables, no matter how they manage to deliver tribal sounds, are overused here. They can be heard throughout almost the whole song, while they drench the drums. Last but not least, the song gets pretty boring after the second minute.
Ratahamatta is a guilty pleasure for me; however I wouldn’t suggest purchasing it. If you want to give it a listen, go type it on YouTube, Spotify or wherever you like, so you won’t have wasted you money in case you disliked it. I can’t say anything about the cover song since I haven’t listened to the original. The demos are worth it if you like listening to early song versions, and I’m pretty sure that if you like the three other songs, you will probably be pleased to have a live recording of them.
Sepultura is a band that doesn't need an introduction. These guys completely dominated the world with albums like “Beneath the Remains” and “Arise”. Back then, they were on the top of their game with an highly energetic brand of aggressive, sometimes even death metal-influenced thrash metal.
Sure, the turning point for Sepultura was already given with their highly controversial album “Chaos AD” but to me, the exitus happened with “Roots” and particularly the main song of this very single, “Ratamahatta”. It has everything a so called “sell-out” needs:
a (then) trendy nu-metal track with random tribal drumming and ridiculous vocals
a shorter, more radio-friendly edit of said track
a dumb cover which supposedly “fits” their new style
unnecessary, same-y sounding demo versions of famous songs – to fill the space
sub par live recordings of the most accessible songs of their past career
Yeah, this about sums it up. The title track of this single sounds like everything else that's popular in those times – horribly down tuned guitars, angst-ridden tough-guy shouts, retarded lyrics (of course, the obligatory “fuck” appears on the lyrics sheet) and simple-as-fuck compositions. The only thing that sounds remotely different is the never-ending stupid mumbling in the background, but that's not exactly a positive thing.
The Bob Marley cover is, of course, shit – it's horribly overlong and nothing more than a butchery of the original track (which I don't even like very much). It suffers from the same factors that made the title track unbearable.
As I mentioned, the demo versions are worthless. Even if I liked those songs, they practically sound the same as their later album counterparts, apart from a slightly worse production job and a few notes changed here and there (mostly on “Dusted”).
“Slave new World” was one of the most accessible and also crappiest songs on “Chaos AD” and that's probably why it was chosen to appear on here. Max' vocals sound worse than on the studio recording and the overall instrumentation sounds sloppier, even though the song is simple as fuck. Well, they had their fame, so why bother learning the songs properly?
“Inner Self” should be a good track. But on here, it's not. Main reason for this being the dumb idea to mix it with the horrid and slow “Amen” to form a live medley. Obviously, the two hugely different songs don't fit together in the least, granting a truly disturbing experience; Max also uses his angsty tough-guy shouts instead of his long-gone vocal talents back on the studio recording of “Beneath the Remains”, but that had to be expected firsthand.
So what else is to say about this single? Well, not much, really. It's best to avoid it like the plague, the same thing you should do with the album this stems from, because from this day on, they'd ditch the thrash for mainstream audiences' cash.