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The Roots of Sepultura (TRS) is a comprehensive collection of rarities, demos, covers and live recordings. The high standard of quality material from start to finish, even on the demos, is a testament to what a truly great band Sepultura have been. The material spans from pre-Bestial Devastation up to Chaos A.D. (CAD), while three quarters of it is from the Arise era. The inclusion of some of the tracks, such as the Arise original mixes, my seem unnecessary but none of it is bad. Each track varies in significance but it's all good to have even if it's for completion sake or curiosity. An added bonus is the extensive notes in the booklet detailing the history of each song.
It all begins with three tracks left over from the Arise recording sessions. Intro is an instrumental with a good buildup and some catchy riffs despite it's very short length. Criminals In Uniform is mid-paced and more simple than anything from Arise making it sound more like something from Beneath the Remains. A great song but it's easy to hear why it was left off the album. The lyrics were written by the editor at the time of Metal Maniacs, Katherine Ludwig who was known for banning bands from the magazine whom she didn't agree with. It's strange that Sepultura would collaborate with someone who actively participated in censorship. The third is a cover of Motörhead's Orgasmatron, a song so bad (though lyrically excellent) it sticks out of their discography worse than Lemmy's moles. Sepultura play it the way it should have been, powerful and epic with no effects, making it the best cover they have ever done.
The four tracks from the original mix of Arise do not differ much from the final versions. The guitar sound here is slightly more aggressive and the snare has a big 80s sound to it, similar to Death's Leprosy album. The differences here are so minor the casual listener wouldn't even notice them without hearing the songs back to back. The only major change is Dead Embryonic Cells does not have it's industrial intro here.
The pre-production demos are included for their historical value. Necromancer is Sepultura's first recording, making it the most important track on TRS. The Past Reborns the Storms (From the Past Comes the Storms) is Andreas Kisser's first recording with the band. As evidenced by the original title, their English skills were both a blessing and a curse. Often it made for great lyrics and sometimes they made no sense. Each song is highly spirited and raw enough to make any black metal band envious.
Next are cover songs of Mutantes, Dead Kennedys and Ratos De Porão. All three are short, up-beat and aggressive showing off their punk influences. I've never heard any of the originals to compare them, but Sepultura are one of the few bands who not only do justice to the songs they cover, but usually greatly improve them. I don't think anyone will be disappointed.
"So, we try to wake you up playing something really old and really fast. It used to be called Antichrist. We change the lyrics. We have some fucking problems with the police. Now it's called Anticop. Fuck the police!" This one song recorded live on the CAD tour is the only weak link on TRS due to sound quality. It's dominated by vocals and overly triggered bass drums. The rest of the drums and guitars are in the background.
It comes to an end with seven of the eleven tracks from the Under Siege home video, recorded live in Barcelona, Spain during the Arise tour. Even live Sepultura prove themselves to be one of the all time greats. They put on a tight performance, highly aggressive, sometimes rivaling the original songs. Andreas' solos are impressively accurate too. Total professionals. The sound is excellent, approaching studio quality. Even the crowd is highly energetic, chanting and singing on cue. I only wish the whole concert was included. The way Roadrunner has leached off Sepultura's past, it may be released in whole yet. Under a Pale Grey Sky does not compare to this at all. (The home video is also highly recommended. A staple of the 90s underground. Now available on Chaos DVD.)
The one problem I have is the way this was sold. About six months after purchasing Roots, TRS was released together as a double disc. Forcing me to purchase Roots again to obtain TRS at an even higher price than before. This was not a very fan-friendly thing to do. TRS should have had a proper release by itself like Blood-Rooted. It would have made even more sense to combine those two albums as a double CD.
This is the best release of it's kind since Anthrax's Attack of the Killer B's. Essential for anyone who enjoyed Arise or is a fan of the Max Cavalera years.