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Not bad - 65%

gk, January 27th, 2009

A-Lex is Sepultura’s 11th album and is due out later this month. It‘s based on Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange and A-Lex means “no law” in Russian or something like that. Now, I haven’t heard the band since Against came out but I did see them live in 2007 and they put on one hell of a show and kicked a lot of ass. Derek Green had a commanding presence on stage and new drummer Jean Donabella seemed like a worthy replacement for Igor Cavalera.

I was expecting another dull retread of past glories mixed with modern trends in the vein of Cavalera Conspiracy and the last Soulfly album but A-Lex caught me by surprise. The album has some great songs and sounds like the work of a band that had something to prove. There’s a fair mix of older sounds and newer directions and the band sounds tight and focused. There is a fair bit of the percussive tribal element from Roots, there’s also the thrashing of Schizophrenia and Beneath the Remains although that’s in the minority, there are a lot of fat grooves aka Chaos AD and there’s even some Meshuggah style dissonant chug. It all works quite well together and it’s all held together by a sterling performance from new drummer Jean Donabella.

Stand out tracks include Filthy Rot which manages to mix up some tribal sounding vocal chants with Meshuggah style riffing, The Treatment which has a lot of Chaos AD and Roots in it, Metamorphosis is a slow burning mid tempo thrasher that sounds great, Sadistic Values is the longest song on the album is a moody heavy song with a cool tempo shift halfway through and Forceful Behavior sounds as old school as anything they’ve done in a long while. There are no bad songs here. The only complaint is that at just a little less than an hour’s worth of music and 18 songs, it’s a bit long to take in one sitting and the album could have been shortened a bit. Ludwig Van is Beethoven’s 9th Symphony played by Kisser and the band and while it may have been essential to the concept and they must have had to include it, it does break the flow of the album, especially coming as it does after the aggressive and punchy old school vibe of Enough Said.The only real problem with A-Lex is that there a few too many songs on it. The second half of the album especially feels stretched out and like it may not ever end.

Having said all of that, this is a pretty good album and way better than what I was hoping for. It’s an album that’s going to grow on you the more you listen to it and it is far superior to the last Soulfly or Cavalera Conspiracy albums. It’s also remarkably free of any of the currently fashionable trends. Check it out. You just might be pleasantly surprised.

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