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Possibly their best since Arise (!) - 91%

Chainedown, February 7th, 2009

Fuck the naysayers, A-Lex might be one of the best albums of this year. In fact it might be one of the best albums in Sepultura's entire career.

Yeah that's right, I think A-Lex is just that good.

The album is a concept album for Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange (I've read the book, and watched half of the movie). It's base is aggressive groove. But from time to time, the band varies their groove by blending everything they've explored before. Sometimes it is thrash ("Forceful Behavior" almost sounds like Slayer), sometimes it's hardcore ("Enough Said"), and sometimes it's their past - "Strike" strongly reminds of Roots, as if it was an outtake from Roots. "Ludwig Van" is also worth a mention because, oddly enough, it's one of the several highlights, yet it's the weakest link at the same time. Usually the fusion of metal and classical music ends up being meaningless and disposable, but "Ludwig Van" is a bit of an exception. Sepultura's arrangement of Beethoven's 9th Symphony comes unexpected towards the end, and shows a trace of insanity. The middle section, right about from when Kisser's solo starts, is quite shmalzy to me, and hence the weakest moment of the album, but it starts and ends well like an appropriate and psychotic tribute to A Clockwork Orange (but certainly not to Beethoven himself).

In other moments, "A-Lex" I ~ IV serves to mark the beginning of each section, but they are unpredictably successful at segueing the dynamics of the music without being a silly filler. A-Lex also has a similar progression like Roots and Chaos A.D. where the latter tracks get less memorable, but in A-Lex, the music flows with ease, and with much more consistency than Sep's mid-90s outputs. Unlike their past groove-aggression albums, A-Lex storms through as if this is the musical equivalent of beautiful and highly skilled performance of capoeira. Overall, it does a superb job of recreating the "concept" of A Clockwork Orange, making it an enjoyable listen not only as a metalhead, but also someone familiar with the book (or the movie).

After few listens of A-Lex, I cannot help but to be convinced that Max Cavalera is overrated as a creative force of Sepultura. Too many times does the credit to Sepultura masterpieces of Beneath the Remains - Roots era go to Max alone, and without any regard to Andreas Kisser. But the truth is that Sepultura always sounded like Sepultura, even after Derrick came in (by now, Max's vocals aren't realy missed on Sepultura albums to many open-minded people because Derrick proved himself to be a great vocalist). Departure of Igor Cavalera might be a great thing for Sep after all; it's not that Jean Donabella is better than Igor (but definitely a worthy replacement), but Sepultura should finally be judged fairly without any "Cavaleras" (ok, Igor's wife produced the album, but that doesn't count!). A-Lex should make people realize that Sepultura is Sepultura, with or without the Cavaleras.

All these years, Sepultura has worked hard to become one-of-a-kind metal band once again. Like their national football team, they are a group of stars that really wins by being team players. A-Lex is the proof. And this time they rightfully created their uniqueness by just the band members, and without high-profile nu-metal guests or exotic Brazilian tribal musicians.