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Sepultura - Chaos A.D. - 90%

blacksabbath1968, March 17th, 2023

Sepultura have been a divisive band in the metal community for quite some time. The fact that they had the balls to ditch their death/thrash sound they were known for and experiment with something pretty different is commendable on its own, regardless of quality.

When I was first really getting into metal as a teen, I found the Metal Archives website and started deep diving. It was before I had acceptable internet and wasn't really aware of downloading music, so I'd order CDs through the Search Ohio service our local library was a part of. That was how I first knowingly heard them, as you probably guessed. For years and years, their death/thrash era was my absolute favorite, and let's be real. It still is. That said, as of writing this, I'd say Chaos A.D. might be their best work. They managed to expand upon the newfound experimentation that started creeping up on the previous album (Arise) and do it very well. I mentioned they're a divisive band, this of course applies to metal elitists. I should know, I used to be one. Now, I can't say for sure if the groove direction really did it for them or it was the nu-metal direction on their next album, Roots. Nevertheless, it's important to point out if you're not familiar with the band. This was a very significant turning point for Sepultura.

There's so much variety on this album compared to their past work. The song Altered States from Arise (if I remember correctly) was the first to include their now (in)famous tribal influences from their homeland of Brazil. These influences make more appearances here, especially in the instrumental track Kaiowas, as well as the mostly instrumental (but chant-heavy) We Who Are Not as Others. The only song that mostly resembles their past work would be Propaganda, and even that has a lot of groovy riffwork along with the patented tremolo-picked riffs. Not to mention, this album just has some of their best known songs, such as Refuse / Resist, Slave New World and Territory. It seemed they had a habit of front-loading their albums with the 'hits', but this was probably the first time that the high quality was maintained throughout. No filler whatsoever (not that they had any bad songs from their 80s era until then).

Honestly, you'll have to make your own judgements here. Whether this is the beginning of the end of the Max-era, or groundbreaking is very much up to interpretation. My personal favorite album will probably always be Arise, but I would say as far as content and songwriting goes, this is by far their best work. I should also note that some of the post-Max albums with his replacement Derrick Green are also highly rated, so if you find yourself curious, there's plenty available.

I also just realized this album turns 30 this year, so happy birthday.

(reposted from