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Sepultura > Roots > Reviews
Sepultura - Roots

Almost no redeeming qualities - 10%

LedZeppelin2112, February 23rd, 2023

How did Sepultura go from one of the most aggressive and sinister sounding thrash metal bands to the garbage that is Roots? This almost doesn’t even sound like the same band anymore. These guys were pioneers of South American extreme metal, first with the incredibly ahead-of-its-time primitive might of Morbid Visions, and then with two of the greatest thrash metal albums ever made in Schizophrenia and Beneath the Remains. Arise, while not on the same level as those previous records was a solid release as well. But the cracks in the foundation were beginning to form; Sepultura’s desire for a more accessible sound and the implementation of ideas that simply don’t mesh with their original style were seeping into their music. Then on Chaos A.D. Sepultura moved almost entirely away from thrash. It’s sort of the bridge between those early albums and this atrocity, and while it’s somewhat redeemable due to a handful of good songs, Roots is not.

Long gone is the thick, beefy guitar tone from Beneath the Remains; on Roots we get this dull droning tone that isn’t done any favors since there’s pretty much no interesting riffs to be found here. Here, Sepultura embrace 90s trends and go for a more groove oriented sound, and as a result dumb down their content to as low as it had ever been (but somehow maybe not as low as it would go). The worst part is when the guitars take a break and Max Cavalera’s hardcore vocal style gets center stage. Gone is his gruff death growl from early releases, now he’s simply shouting into the mic, and without any backup from the now flaccid guitars. I think the riff off of Spit is probably the only somewhat enjoyable one from the entire record, with a quicker pace. But that song lasts not even three minutes and you still have Max’s terrible singing and the incredibly barebones rhythm section keeping it from its full potential.

Even worse than Max’s standard shout on this record are his screams. They’re heavily muffled by the production, and in the style of a lot of nu metal bands that were getting big around the time of this album’s release. The production hampers more than just his voice though, it’s so dry and stale and that’s ultimately why the guitars sound so dull. It gives the album an overall parched sound as if all the life was sucked out of it and what we’re left with is a band of amateurs absolutely abusing their instruments, and in the worst way possible. The musicianship isn’t good here — it’s sloppy, and the riffs all sound pretty similar so they’re tedious to get through. No interesting fills from Igor Cavalera on drums, just a steady rhythm with rare moments of dynamism that becomes painfully numb before even the halfway point of the record.

I mentioned before the bland nu metal style in which Roots is performed, but Sepultura had to take it one step further and implement a lot of Latin stylings into the album as well, much more than was present on Chaos A.D. Don't get me wrong, I respect that they wanted to draw from a familiar well, because I hear a lot of rhythms and chants that feel synonymous with South American or Latin American culture, the title Roots seems very appropriate in this regard. But it simply doesn’t work. It sounds terrible with the boring grooves and aside from the nice instrumental Jasco, it does nothing for me. Ratamahatta doesn’t even sound like a metal song, it is so offensively bad and is the peak of Sepultura’s experimentation on this album. Even the less extreme moments of Latin elements don’t add to the atmosphere or overall experience, but instead bore the listener and make them forget that this is supposed to be a Sepultura album.

At over an hour long, Roots is a chore to get through. There’s a rare riff here and there that stands out a bit before fading into obscurity just minutes later, and every single style that’s attempted sounds dreadful alongside the dead and unoriginal sounding compositions. It is a perfect balance between boring and obnoxious, and an album that I hopefully will never have to listen to again. On the rare occasion I hear Roots Bloody Roots on satellite radio, I’ll likely get PTSD from this awful experience. Waste of time, go listen to Schizophrenia or Beneath the Remains.

Not underrated: misinterpreted - 77%

Annable Courts, November 11th, 2022

Whether this album is good music or not as far as the actual content goes is its own discussion, but it's probably best to dispense with the idea that there's something inherently wrong with the artistic direction taken here. Simply put: critics of this album may not be fans of the style on display, as a subjective matter, but bring up the reprehensible nature of the music as an objective problem. This came out in 1996 and the nu-metal scene was only at its seminal point so Sepultura weren't being swept away by a giant trendy wave of some sort; and grabbing the problem from the other end saying this album was partly responsible for the corrupt genre that nu-metal is widely considered to be, doesn't seem a conclusion mindful enough to claim full coherence.

At that time, the style of aggro-metal heard here with the distinct abrasive down-tuned guitar tone and one-note rampages, and more broadly that overt grooviness wasn't some bandwagon commercial phenomenon, even if later that field may've become co-opted to achieve a much smoother and more accessible sound. The idea here seems rather to gather as much groove and adrenaline-loaded momentum as possible to blow the audience away, which is only a natural progression for the band as they'd been developing those energy-laden eruptions for the past few albums. 'Arise' had those heavy breakdown moments that were purposely minimalist in nature, and the much less accepted 'Chaos A.D.' made a more extensive use of that compositional tool. 'Roots' just furthers the predominance of it, while also deepening the purely percussive quality in the band's DNA and thrusting their folk spirit forward with more obvious contributions from non-metal instruments.

A track like 'Cut-throat' is only typical of the Cavalera musical experience: that aggressive punkish edge that was always a main component in Max's repertoire, along with a strong hook. 'Roots bloody roots' takes the horror of early Sepultura and blends it straight into the modern groove of the mid-90's metal scene, while 'Ratamahatta' among other tracks here makes an interesting attempt at mixing the corrosive essence of heavy music with the rustic authenticity of world music. Incorporating imposing instruments in like the didgeridoo with its ominous reverberance or some of the heavy-sounding percussion: you'd think that's metal as heck. It probably would've landed better if Cavalera had made a more obvious effort to revitalize the true metal identity of Sepultura, but he never did give a fuck about conventions.

This album has too many metal elements in it to be considered entirely separate from metal, but just like other bands that mix components of standard metal with influences outside metal; say alternative or groove; it may very well make sense to put this into a category of its own. Directly comparing this to 'Arise' from 5 years earlier shows the considerable migration within the musical spectrum that 'Roots' had completed from where the thrash sound originally lied. Is that awful in itself - leaving thrash for something that's experimental and different ? For what this is about, it seems like it's achieved its goal.

This is filled with judiciously utilized folk instrumental sections, that rather than conflict with the high-gain amps and aggressive lead vocals seem to contrast with them in an interesting synergy - which particular melting-pot may be exclusive. The energy and angst definitely come through as both the song-writing sets this up well and the production completes the job with an appreciable realism to the sound: the album feels strikingly warm and organic (especially the percs), and not over-processed; not even the distortion guitars, free-roaming and spilling out feedback and sustain. The album does go on for too long though, and a shorter more focused version would've given this a better rating. Those 16 tracks are definitely not 16 tracks of sheer excellence... but if anything that excessiveness is also one of the charms of such an album: not all parts are pure greatness but it's a fun, prolific ride overall with plenty of twists and turns.

Live your life, leave me alone! - 70%

Slater922, May 1st, 2021
Written based on this version: 1996, CD, Roadrunner Records

I've listened to plenty of albums that have been hated on for a change of style. Some are justified, others seem unfair. Regardless, "Roots" may be a more extreme example of this type of hatred for an album. Coming from the Brazilian band Sepultura, these guys were huge in the late 80s and early 90s for their death and thrash metal albums, with "Beneath the Remains" in particular being a landmark of the death/thrash metal genre. Starting with "Chaos A.D.", however, they began to add in some groove metal elements. By the time we got to "Roots" in 1996, they went all out in the nu/groove metal style, and that didn't suit well for fans of Sepultura to say the least. At least with stuff like Celtic Frost's "Cold Lake", the hate eventually died down, and people started to like some portions of it. 25 years later, the hate wagon for "Roots" is still going strong. Even those who liked the album just "liked" it, and never loved it.

So where do I stand on this issue? Well for the most part, you either like "Roots", or loathe every second of it. There is no in-between. For me, personally, I'm more in the middle, but I do lean a lot on its positives. Sure, it has its rather dumb moments and it is one of the weaker nu/groove metal projects at the time, but generally, this album is pretty good.

Let's start off with the instruments. The instrumentals of "Roots" may be a far cry from the ones in previous albums, but they're still great. The guitar riffs are really bouncy, and they have a nice groove to carry a variety of emotions. The drums are also pretty good, as its beat patterns are very groovy and rhythmic, further executing the crazed atmosphere of the tracks. The bass is rather mundane and doesn't do much for most of the tracks, but when it's good, it does provide the foundation for the tracks well. One of the best examples of the instruments would be in the hit single "Roots Bloody Roots". While not their best song ever, it is one of the best songs off the album, with the tribal themes being executed very well and the guitars playing harsh, yet ritualistic riffs. Others tracks that have good instruments would be "Attitude", "Spit", and "Ambush". They're one of the best parts of the album, and have some genuinely great moments.

But one of the weaker portions of this album would be the vocals. Max Cavalera has done the vocals for Sepultura before, and they've been great. Here, however, it's been downgraded a lot. Like many other nu metal projects, Cavalera's vocals are very whiny and groan a lot. This won't be a problem if his voice was fitting to the instruments, but they aren't. For example, in the track "Breed Apart", the song goes for a more harsh and crazed atmosphere, and it works. However, Cavalera begins to groan very softly to the lyrics, and it sounds awful. And when he does scream, it sounds forceful and is completely out of place from the instruments. They're not the worst things ever, but the vocals end up dragging down the tracks. And don't even get me started on Jonathan Davis and Mike Patton's vocals on "Lookaway". Their vocals are very degrading and make this rather average song sound unbearable. And that's not to mention the rapping part in "Ratamahatta", which is terrible and out of place with the tribal sounds. Even with some of the more tolerable vocal moments like in "Roots Bloody Roots", they are poor overall.

While the vocals are garbage, the lyrics are okay. They may not be that impressive, but they can be worded fine and tell a story just fine. For example, in the track "Cut-Throat", this verse quotes:

Telling lies right into your face,
grab your soul and make a disgrace.
Make you believe you're bigger than life,
no one cares if you'll live or die.

Cavalera talks about someone lying and thinking they're better than everyone else. The lyrics are decent, but the main problem is that the vocals are horrible, and Cavalera screaming his head off make the lyrics look like he's making a big deal out of someone making up lies. And sometimes, even the lyrics are the main problem. Going back to "Ratamahatta", the lyrics are just random chants of Portuguese words. While it is about living in Brazilian slums like favela, the abrasive instruments and whining vocals ruin whatever storytelling Cavalera was going for. The lyrics can be okay, but it's either ruined by the vocals or the poor wording.

After all of those years, "Roots" still remains a rather odd album in Sepultura's discography. The vocals are awful, and the lyrics are downgraded by their poor execution, but the instruments are mainly nice and are unique with its influence of tribal sounds. Max would go on to leave Sepultura and instead start up a new band named Soulfly, and while he still views this album as an important record, fans still have a hard time listening to it. It does have its problems, but it's still harmless overall, and it's worth checking out if you're interested in some nu/groove metal combined with tribal sounds.

Torture - 6%

VictimOfScience, April 29th, 2021
Written based on this version: 1996, CD, Roadrunner Records

Which thrash metal fan wouldn't be familiar with the amazing thrash records that Sepultura released earlier on during the 1980s? Schizophrenia and Beneath The Remains deserve to be called some of the greatest thrash records of all time. That makes me ask the question a thousand times, how did we go from there to here? There, from the ripping, intelligent riffs, pretty damn good speed, respectable vocal work, unsurpassed energy to here, where nothing, NOTHING is worthy of being called "music".

Making a difference between songs becomes quite difficult, as every single song is based on the exact formula, except for the so-called "Canyon Jam" which has nothing to do with the rest of the record. Riffin' for dummies, the riffs are consisting of the most basic ascend-descend bullshit, the same FUCKING drum beat that in their opinion, never gets old, and the idiotic screams that sound laughable (later depressing, 'cause they were serious about it). To make this even more enjoyable, most of this takes place at roughly the same exact pace. This never changes.

Musicianship? Pure garbage. These guys were some of the greatest thrash musicians that would wipe bands like Sodom and Kreator off the stage during their prime. They clearly knew what they were doing, they were extremely talented that was proven by their very sophisticated albums. Here? As if they were purposefully trying to sound as bad as possible. The riffs have no variety, nor any aggression. They are extremely simplistic, boring, dry, and extremely repetitive. I do not think I ever heard riffs being repeated this many times during one album, though this would stand out less if the riffs were any good. But they are not, and things only get worse.

After the guitar work that can be compared to that of a beginner drunk scene kid, the percussion also fails. If I did not know this was Igor Cavalera, I would have laughed my ass off and said "You're joking, right?". Unfortunately, no. This is not only a bad dream. Igor Cavalera was a great drummer. He was not the best, but his fills were on point, he was able to play very tightly on very high speeds, might I add. Here, he is on one single drum beat, on this slow, sluggish idiotic pace, that's determined to annoy you as much as it possibly can. You would expect some twists and turns in the pace, the beat, the fills, etc. Nope, not on this album, my friend.

When you add all of these things together, you get something so unlistenable, so repulsive, and disgusting that it is literally painful to listen to. There are no melodies on the album. Okay, fine, there are a lot of great albums without melodies. There is no aggression either. Alright, maybe there is some punk-like energy where the music is simple, but at least it has a decent pace to it, and there are some catchy moments. No, the pace is way too slow for that, and the music is not sophisticated enough. What is there on this album that makes it enjoyable!? Is there anything that the album is trying to communicate besides these idiotic, boring, dry caveman riffs that can be written in minutes, and Max Cavalera's horrible moaning that's worse to listen to than a cat's agony?

Nothing on here works. The riffs are empty, they don't try to communicate anything. There is no meaning to them. When I listen to these riffs, I don't tell myself "Wow, man, this must have taken some brains to come up with. It's philosophy in the form of notes." I tell myself "Just put that fucking guitar down and end my suffering.". The percussion is boring, dull, repetitive, and sounds like a free downloadable drum beat from YouTube that's basically a 15-second loop. No variety in the drumming either. The vocals are "fragments of what used to be" Max Cavalera's vocals. The production is horrible, none of the instruments sound clean. This has been the most painful listen I ever endured in my entire life. This is the first album that managed to cause physical pain while I listened to it. This level of musical carpet bombing on the ears (and on the psyche) should be a crime.

Sepultura Goes Nu Metal - 55%

Hungry_Gauv, July 9th, 2020
Written based on this version: 1996, CD, Roadrunner Records

Sepultura made itself one of the most influential band of the early extreme metal scene with their first material like Morbid Devastation in the 80s, along with Exodus and Sodom for example. When the Black Album was released in the early 90s and Metal started to get into the mainstream, Sepultura kept releasing heavy records like Arise and Chaos A.D. The fabulous and powerful riffs, the vocal delivery of Max Calavera, it was really one of the biggest, if not THE ONE band carrying the extreme metal genre upon it’s shoulder in the 90s (with Pantera maybe), kinda like Metallica with Thrash the decade before they sold themselves and became rock stars.

We are in 1996, Sepultura decided to change their sound, more focusing on the vocals and tribal percusions and furthering away from their extreme metal roots, ironically (b’cause the name’s Roots, you see?). As a fan of everything Sepultura did before, I knew this ablum was different, but I was not underestimating it. I heard good comments about it, already knew and liked the first song Roots Bloody Roots, so I was curious without prejudice, aside that I was expecting quality.

The first track is an absolute classic, being porwerful and aggressive, having this weird eerie guitar sound, they achieve to create a down and heavy mood without a breakdown-friendly riff, but that’s why I get tired of it easily. There’s isn’t much else to find to this dark and heavy melody, and thus it is the main problem of this record. While the album is full of energy, how can you make heavy songs and breakdowns without powerful and badass riffs? Well they certainly tried. Attitude keeps the energy up the ceiling, having good hooks and breaks but again: while the riff isn’t bad, it is extremely simple and the whole song gravitates around it. They put on a dark mood with the bassline and percussions, but this formulae will get real old real fast.

Cut-Throat is the closest song from the sound of their previous records, being only 2:45 long, but having 3 different riffs, a small breakdown and a small solo. Max rarely matched before the vocals I heard on this song, making worth the detour! Next on the tracklist is Ratamahatta, where Sepultura will use inspirations from world music and their Brazilian origins to make a definetly strange but really fun song, having those portuguese lyrics, tribal percussions, and a contagious groove. It is definetly a bizarre song to hear the first time you do, but all all of this results as the black sheep of the album, really a small jewel.

Annnnnd that’s really it. Past the 4 first tracks, the album will still try to install a dark and heavy mood with bass and drums but it’s just not interesting, with the highest boredom point not being this almost 5 minutes long acoustic track that no one cares about ¾ through the album (Itsari), but this 13 MINUTES jam at the very end containing nothing but tribal percussions and crickets (Canyon Jam). While there are some good parts like Born-Stubborn, this album is full of powerless riffs without any groove or thrashiness or real and satisfying breakdowns. You can hear the premises of the nu metal genre with those simple and boring riffs, Sepultura trying to change their sound to a more accessible/radio-friendly metal. The album didn’t feel forced tho, I felt a real angriness behind this project, and it’s also really possible that I missed something big about this album, maybe there is a whole artistic dimension that I didn’t understood (possibly the part about being Brazilian). I would recommend this album to fans of Slipknot, Korn, System of a Down, but I wouldn’t recommend those bands.

Uprooted - 53%

psychoticnicholai, January 2nd, 2017
Written based on this version: 1996, CD, Roadrunner Records

Sepultura were on a big experimental high, looking for new sounds to add to their own, Brazilian tribal music, punk rock, and Pantera-style groove metal were added to their repertoire of influences with Chaos A.D. and with all of that supported by a thrashy backbone, it worked extremely well, bringing us a riot starter of an album. As the 1990's dragged on and thrash metal had effectively died off for a time, the bands who adapted best to the new alternative landscape were the new big names in metal during this time, bands such as Faith No More, Pantera, White Zombie, Machine Head, Tool, Alice in Chains, and of course Sepultura. Sepultura was the one among these bands (aside from Pantera) who'd gone through the biggest number of changes stylistically, and were the ones looking for new sounds the most voraciously. Max Cavalera's experiments with the industrial metal project Nailbomb would further emphasize their desire to look for new sounds. This would lead them towards Korn, who were a strange specimen and relative newcomers in 1995. That would lead them towards the making of Roots.

At the point in time when Roots was being made, nu metal wasn't a fully formed genre yet, and certainly wasn't the horrendous trend it would become later. The only two nu metal bands of note who had released anything of significance were Korn and the Deftones who had only released one album each before Roots was made. I'm not going to levy accusations of bandwagon-jumping towards Sepultura because at that point in time, there was no bandwagon to even jump onto. Roots, while dumbed-down compared to their earlier work, feels more like genuine experimentation than outright trend-hopping (Soulfly on the other hand... yuck), it still feels like a natural change next to Chaos. The Limp Bizkits, Slipknots, and Stainds of the world had yet to even show their faces, and Korn and the Deftones were still fairly low-profile, not reaching their later fame yet.

However, just because you do something different does not automatically make it good. This album was influenced by Korn, and that band has plenty of problems on their own. The drumming is probably the only thing that is strong on this album, that and the guitar tone (thicker than the smoke from burning rainforests), but the actual guitar playing, the vocals, lyrics, and song structures all suffer on Roots. There's a small number of decent songs like the combat-ready beatdown grooves on "Attitude" or the thrashy "Spit." Much of the rest of this album is just lacking. Kisser and Paulo just lay down a lot of chugging, which can work if varied a bit and mixed with something else, but here almost every song does it, and many songs just end up sounding stale, with any activity in the songs feeling lethargic. Sure, it sounds really angry, but it gets to the point that it all feels very constipated. Max is also no saint here, since he's just shouting at you, and his voice lacks the depth that someone like Robb Flynn or Phil Anselmo would have to make that style work. He sounds strained like he just pulled a muscle. He also scat-sings on some songs, and that just sounds like he has rabies from hanging out in the jungle for too long and degrades his lyrics into slurred gibberish on "Breed Apart" and "Ratamahatta", which also has Carlinhos Brown babbling a bunch of mumbo-jumbo that doesn't even sound like Portuguese. Most of the lyrics have also degraded from Chaos A.D. from rebellious social commentary to "FIGHT ME, MOTHERFUCKER! YOU BETRAYED ME! FUCK THIS SHIT!" Now I see why this was so influential with Slipknot. Damn, this album has problems.

Even with all that, there are some redeemable things about Roots. On faster and groovier tracks, the guitars do very well. I already mentioned "Attitude" and "Spit", but there are other tracks that work like "Dusted" which is very simple, but has a groove about it perfect for caving another man's face in with your fist. "Ambush" is also pretty fierce too. The tribal pieces are nice to hear even if they are more jarringly different from the other songs than on Chaos A.D. Tribal instrumentation is nice to hear, and makes even the more mediocre tracks contain something interesting to accent them. If only these elements had been used in better songs. The fight-groove songs are the ones that work, since the other songs either drag on one riff for too long, or have some obnoxious scatting to slather all over. They work since their rhythms are appropriate for the tone of Roots. A lot of filler and bad ideas could have been canned and this would have been so much more satisfying.

Make no mistake, this is a huge step down from their earlier albums and the oversimplified nature of Roots doesn't help it's case. It also introduced a lot of new ideas, only a few of which work. The tribal pieces, nice. The scatting and nu metal, don't bother. If these guys had just kept the complexity of Chaos A.D. or Arise, this could have amounted to so much more. I guess that's the thing about experimenting with new sounds, you think it's a cool idea for a while, you get on an "experimenting high", but then you just don't know when to stop yourself if you end up devolving your sound instead of evolving. Granted it's bearable compared to many other nu metal albums, but it's embarrassing compared to older Sepultura.

Wasted Potential - 40%

Cyberdark Music, February 14th, 2016
Written based on this version: 1996, CD, Roadrunner Records

When it comes to heavy metal music, there seems to be a growing trend in the underground. That is, to criticize bands who choose to depart from the original sound they pioneered on earlier releases. I don't really like this at all, I think regardless of whether or not a band chooses to embrace a more classic rock stance on a death metal record or a more progressive rock stance on a doom metal record, the band can still be good if they execute this new sound properly. Unfortunately, it is for that very reason I have chosen to christen this review "Wasted Potential", because Sepultura had so much potential with this new sound they pioneered, regardless of the fact that I still think nu metal is the worst metal genre of all time.

Lets start off with what they did manage to do right on this record, shall we? First off, we have a unique experimentation with ambient, folk, and industrial sounds combined with groove metal that only Korn (as mediocre as I find both them and the entire genre of groove metal) was doing at the time. I myself am an avid fan of genres outside metal such as ambient, folk, and industrial, so when these elements were used on tracks such as "Jasco", "Itsari", and the uncredited "Canyon Jam", they became the highlight of this record; and while I myself may incorporate elements of ambient, folk, and industrial into the sound of my own metal band, Purple Haze, this is unfortunately where the good news ends.

The critics of this record mostly cite the fact that it is unoriginal as the reason to dislike it. In reality, this record is very original, and had a lot of potential. Saying the riffs on this record are indistinguishable from each other should be applied to metal records you do enjoy, or maybe a hardcore record, next time you choose to write a review. The songs sound like groove metal, so naturally they're all going to sound like groove metal stylistically. However, they aren't just groove metal, they're an even worse caricature of this already loathsome genre, i.e. "nu metal".

The fact that "nu metal" alone sounds like the way the would spell something in rap music immediately raises flags for the die-hard headbanger. While I don't necessarily mind the simplicity, there's no denying that your average metal elitist wants his riffs to be complex and demanding, and that's where this record fails. There's absolutely none of it here, and instead we are left with riffs that are more rhythmic in attack, and while rhythms can certainly be complex, the songs on this record are not demanding whatsoever riff-wise. Combine that with the strained, screamo rap vocals that themselves don't have any "flow", and you have the record titled "Roots", a terminology that within itself that has since become an insult to devoted headbangers AND hip-hop fans alike.

Lets face it; even Max admitted in an interview that the band completed two songs in less than a week, which usually means it wasn't well thought-out, and this record went on to sell 2 million copies, which sounds about right for a really big "rock" record at the time. Simultaneously, it spelled the end for metal as we knew it, and thanks to the metalcore bands continuing this style of music in a largely similar and just as atrocious way, this "mallcore" genre is coming up on its twentieth anniversary as the go-to genre for washed-up metal sellouts. The riffs would've been so much better if only they were more traditional groove metal, and the vocals are soulless, like a teenager screaming at his parents for not giving him an allowance. The singles "Roots Bloody Roots", "Ratamahatta", and "Attitude" do nothing to change the pace of the record, and only continue the aforementioned infractions in an even more commercially oriented direction (as is the point of writing a "single"). Avoid if possible.

When experimentation doesn't pay off - 10%

Napalm_Satan, August 19th, 2015

Chaos A.D. was a successful experiment for Sepultura - their stripped down, blunt groove metal/hardcore style on that album was highly distinctive for the time and extremely effective even today. What they did afterwards on Roots can perhaps be seen as the logical conclusion of what was being done to their music on Chaos A.D., as the band take the ethos, feel and atmosphere of that release to an endpoint on this. However, this time their experimentation resulted in this catastrophic failure - Roots was at the time their worst release, being a tedious and dull effort with little to redeem it and a sharp decline from what came before.

Kicking things off is the title track 'Roots Bloody Roots' which is honestly a great track, featuring a hypnotic groove to both the massive droning guitar riffs and the pounding drums that is impossible to forget. Max's vocals are an even more blunt and distorted bark than on Chaos A.D.; it works well here when teamed with the inimitable chorus and the similarly stripped down, powerful verses. It's easily the best song here and the greatest example of what the band shoot for on the album - a monolithic, layered, textured, stripped down and dense take on nu metal with tribal inflections through the drumming and some of the instruments used, along with mantra-like socially conscious lyrics and a similarly simplified, shouted/barked vocal delivery. This direction continues the trends seen on Chaos A.D. (simplifying the riffs to favour texture, layers and percussive heaviness, tribal music influence, more active drumming, more socially conscious and simplified lyrics along with a greater focus on slogan-like verses and choruses, and a more blunt vocal delivery) but the problem is the band went so far with simplifying the music’s focus that there is no way to really vary one track from another the next. The music is by design focused on simplicity in its riffs and lyrics and mid-tempo, crushing heaviness, and these ideas are all presented at their strongest on the opening song.

Of the remaining 69 minutes of this thing most of it is devoted to re-stating the title track's formula which makes that sound feel staler and more played-out with each minute that passes. Even Korn, a key inspiration for the music here, had enough going on to stay interesting throughout its run-time. Unlike that album there isn’t any real variation in feel to the music as the band here only shoots for a mid-tempo crush based on fat, layered grooves, the vocals aren’t varied in tone or style, and there isn’t much else intersting going like any particularly interesting bass work. This becomes immediately apparent as the next few songs after the opener start playing, and it remains this way for most of the tracklist - a lot of the material here are just ‘Roots Bloody Roots’ style songs that are worse in every way; worse riffs, more repetitive and stupid lyrics and less catchy hooks and most notably, piss poor vocal performances. Max's vocals on nearly every track after the opener sound god-awful; his raspy and screechy shout only becomes more grating as the album wears on, with numerous tracks featuring hideous screeching from him that are disgusting to the ear. Compounding his monotone delivery are the uniformly repetitive lyrics that have him repeating one line over and over in this awful voice, along with various distortion filters that only make him sound even worse. There are other annoying ideas here like assorted bits of aimless noise made by farting around on the bass or guitars or adding effects in post-production (like most of 'Straighthate' or the end of 'Born Stubborn'.)

There are some attempts at varying this formula or dispensing with it completely but none really work at all; 'Ratamahatta' features tribal percussion and a distinctive groove that works quite well, but the annoying call-and-response vocals and Max's increasingly grating shouts on top of it make for a totally irredeemable song. 'Breed Apart' mixes it up with some low spoken word and more tribal percussion at the start before morphing into the same boring sludge that dominates most of this album. 'Lookaway' is the point on the where this release stops feeling like an earnest experiment and like a genuine trend-hop, with record scratching from DJ Lethal opening up the worst song on the album. The first half of this song is taken up by a one-note slow groove that gets tiresome very quickly, and Max's performance here is excruciating with an annoying distortion filter being on his voice throughout, alternating between boring spoken word verses and a hideous screamed chorus. Mike Patton does backing vocals and only serves to make the vocal performance even more noisy and unpleasant. The entire thing then breaks down into an ambient part with Jonathan Davis delivering scat vocals; this part is boring but at least that tiresome groove and the hideous vocals from before have stopped by this point. The successive tribal interludes 'Jasco' and 'Itsári' aren't awful; not nearly as interesting as 'Kaiowas' on Chaos A.D. but they do provide a much needed break from the monotony the band continually serves on this album. The 13 minute tribal jam session tacked on the end isn't bad either once it gets going after the first six minutes, with assorted tribal percussion instruments making for an increasingly intense passage that finishes the album off.

Even the songs that are musically decent are ruined by the vocals like 'Spit' or 'Dusted'; the only song that really manages to overcome them is 'Dictatorshit'. It's a sub-90 second crossover thrash song with a few good riffs in there, and while the vocals kind of suck they work with a faster song like this one. The drumming is the only other positive aspect here - music this undemanding doesn't need very complex drumming but Igor still spices it up with numerous patterns and fills in a good few tracks here and he hits hard throughout. Outside of this though, Roots is a failure - the band found a specific sound and decided it was good enough to run with for an entire album, when really they didn’t have enough good ideas to make 72 minutes of music. The ideas that work on the title track get staler and staler as the album wears on as the band don't execute them as well as they did on that song, and any new ideas they throw in only make the music worse as they weren't good to begin with. Even the production that helped the title track gets old fast; the guitars are so fat and bassy the riffs start to blend together into a never-ending stream of sludge.

Finding 'Roots Bloody Roots' as a single (and not listening to the b-sides) will get you the only truly worthwhile material here - it may feature the same ideas that make the rest of this album so monotonous but they sound fresher on this song due to it being the song that introduces them as well as being better executed. Other than this Roots is a gigantic waste of time and talent, as well as marking the start of a long string of boring releases from Sepultura with Derrick Green at the helm and being the spiritual antecedent to Soulfly.

Blood-Red, Yet Still Korn-Fed - 30%

doomknocker, December 11th, 2014
Written based on this version: 1996, CD, Roadrunner Records

For many folks out there, the 90s were a very treacherous time in the metallic world. Thrash was fading away, shred had all but a year's worth of legitimacy, and something new was a'brewin' in the Pacific Northwest. Metal as they knew it was leaving the mainstream spotlight in favor of the "next big thing" rearing its ugly head(s) as the years wore on and certain groups who still wished to hold onto their place within the A-List spectrum had to do something Adapt or die, after all. Yet none really fell right on their fucking face with it than our one-time favorite Brazilian troublemakers Sepultura with a little thing called "Roots"...

For as heartfelt as Max and the boys made their material out to be, there's no doubting for a second that "Roots" is ultimately uninspired and lifeless. On a musical level, the group's well of collective creativity was bone dry amidst this 70+ minute mishmash. Years after being a bastion of endless riffage, we'd be lucky to get 2 or 3 riffs TOTAL song by song, with many of them mere half-step chord progressions, numbing repetition and that oh-so grating upper register dissonance so common with Korn-clone nu metal acts (the beginning of "Spit" is the worst example of the lot). Guitars that once bestowed chaotic butchery now merely shove you about, vocals that literally spat fire now mildly insult and drums that came at the listener in at least three or four different directions break down so heavily and often that it's a wonder the engine could turn over at all. And at the main forefront is Ross Robinson's shit production, which robs a lot of the body from the songs and rendering them flat, unimpressive and drudging from end to end. It almost becomes a chore to continue on the further in you go track by track, with no one song better, worse or really standing out amongst the rest; I swear at least three of the songs therein are so interchangeable that you could retitle them and no one would notice.

Things were already on the down slope for quite a few out there with "Chaos A.D.", wherein the band found themselves stylistically painting themselves into a corner, and with the release of this the corner went from being limiting to outright gone. Yet the main problem with many of the opinions placed upon this is that, more often than not, this is singled out as the one definitive moment in which "metalness" was cast asunder in favor of commercial excess. Those who would believe that aren't entirely wrong, but it's unfair to only pick on Sepultura. This decade was very unkind to metal, as we're all aware, and as I'd said before bands who were on top of the world years ago had to do whatever it took to maintain focus and attention during this time of social upheaval. Survival instinct if nothing else. For fuck's sake, your beloved Big Four of Thrash Metal weren't immune to the curse of the 90s, either! None of them! "Cryptic Writings?" "Volume 8: The Threat is Real?" "Load??" "Diabolus in Musica??" Exodus and Testament dropping off the map? Need I go on? I hope not. But, if "Chaos A.D." has taught me anything it's that, at their core, Sepultura just flat out don't care what you think; they'll do what they feel is right by them no matter the cost. And really, of all the thrash bands the 80s spat at us they seemed to have the most to say, shooting for legitimate societal woes versus "What if?" political rantings and Satanic buffoonery. Maybe their survival instinct was the result of them needing as big a podium as can be to showcase the world in all its shit glory. Yet does that absolve the band in any way given how "Roots" came out? Not a chance.

All in all "Roots" may have had some deep-rooted (heh...) concepts underneath all the high school angst and blinding blur, but the whole of the work is just too lacking to take it all in. I may have heard worse nu metal bands and albums, but I've heard far better Sepultura. We all have.

Steep decline - 20%

Cosmic_Equilibrium, August 28th, 2014
Written based on this version: 1996, CD, Roadrunner Records

What the.....? I mean, WHAT THE...?

The previous album, Chaos AD, was a great album. Unlike some people, I'm not annoyed by the fact Sepultura changed their sound for that record - it worked. They produced a great, modern metal album with some thought-provoking lyrics and a real sense of driving, righteous anger and standing up to injustice. The tribal sounds that were introduced on a few tracks were good, lending texture and variety to the record. Overall, they made a classic of early 90s heavy music.

So for their next album Roots, they decided to keep evolving, and among other things they retained the tribal sounds and vibes. Roots features a fair amount of the tribal drumming that was present on songs like Kaiowas, and also features some traditional Brazilian instruments [the intro of "Attitude"]. The band even ventured into the jungle to record with a native Brazilian tribe ["Itsari"]. They delved into the native musical sounds and traditions of their own country, and worked them into the album. Which is fine. The tribal sounds are interesting and lend some welcome texture to the record. It's just that the music Sepultura play on here is mostly awful nu-metal.

Opener "Roots Bloody Roots" is by far the best song on the album. Despite being buried in a nasty, Korn-esque guitar tone, it's still an absolute monster of a song and is deservedly a live favourite. The percussion is heavy and worked in to the music quite well, and as a cathartic roar of rage it serves its purpose. However things go rapidly downhill from then on in. "Attitude" is kind of a half-song. It's not really got much drive to it but just seems to rage about aimlessly, in a kind of pointless, bitter way. It feels like a demo that the band forgot about. The rest of the album fails to improve. "Rattamahatta" features Carlinhos Brown on percussion and has a nice groove for a while, but then Max steps in and starts doing odd vocal lines in the chorus which just don't sound good. As the record drags on and on, it becomes increasingly claustrophobic. Good riffs are few and far between, and a lot of the songs just sit there, not really doing much.

Some respite comes through the gloom with "Spit" which at least has some kind of oomph to it and an anthemic chorus, but after that it's back to the Korn style downtuned guitars, two-note riffs and no hooks or exciting moments. "Lookaway" features Jon Davis in a guest spot, as well as Mike Patton [why did Patton get involved with such mediocre product?], and it's an absolute nadir, or maybe the low point is "Dusted" with an unbelievably bad, lame riff which just sounds completely flat and uninspired. And so it drags on and on, until the closing "Dictatorshit" a two-minute punkish blast with some very simplistic and obvious lyrics.

What happened here? The get angry and fight vibe of Chaos AD has been replaced with an atmosphere of "we're being wiped out, we'll go down, this is an outrage but we're probably screwed" which doesn't make for a very inspiring listen. The whole record doesn't sound defiant, it sounds desperate, frightened, despairing. I mentioned the general claustrophobia of the record earlier - listening to this album is like going on an expedition into the jungle and getting hopelessly lost in the trees with no idea how to find one's way out. The whole vibe of the record is like that and it's not a happy or rewarding or invigorating listen, just dreary and oppressive. The terrible production job by Ross Robinson doesn't help in this regard either, awful guitar tones, weak sounding instruments, everything sounds muddy and crap, which is I guess what you will get from hiring the man who was behind the mixing desk for Korn's albums.

The main problem around this era is that Max Cavalera seems to have had some kind of breakdown. Look at him during the Chaos AD years, then onstage around 1996, and he seems a completely different person. Taking cues from Jon Davis, hanging out with nu-metal bands, changing his image and most of all seemingly letting his songwriting skills degenerate rapidly into a mess of Korn riffs and simplistic lyrics. I have no idea what caused this but the change is alarming, and it's reflected in this absolute mess of an album, lacking ideas, energy, and songwriting in general. It's always sad to see a great band go into decline, it's even more shocking when that decline happens in under three years. An abysmal, claustrophobic and depressing record.

A middle finger to thrash and metal elitism. - 92%

imqa, September 12th, 2012

After reading several reviews of this album (both positive ones and negative ones) I can conclude that several things of this release are quite overlook. Be it repetitive riffs or lack of virtuoso soloing or conventional "metalness" if you will, this does not take away from the sound at all. This album is indeed overwhelmingly metal.

If you are indifferent about sounds from other countries, be it the folk music of those nations or the tribal music of those nations, stay away from this album at all costs. Obviously you're gonna get the sound of Sepultura's origin. And goddamn is it a great sound. Sepultura explicitly mark their territory when it comes to the uniqueness of their brand in metal. What's definitely one of the best aspects of this album is the percussion. Igor Cavalera did an exceptionally superb job with his percussive delivery and the combination of tribal percussive instruments along with his own drum kit. "Roots Bloody Roots", "Rattamahatta", "Breed Apart", and "Attitude" are among the greatest percussive tracks of this album. If you're a drummer and you enjoy multiple brands of metal, never hesitate in buying this album or listening to it anyway you can.

Andreas Kisser's soloing or exceptional guitar work does not exactly become a focus or an outstanding aspect of this release but it is definitely consistent and it blends well with the rest of the album's sound. Yes, while Max's lyrics aren't optimal, his vocal delivery impresses regardless. "Jasco" is definitely a track where Andreas' guitar playing stands out the most. It is definitely a song that stands out and gives a nice extra acoustic flavor to the album.

Something that I really loved, being a bassist, is the production of this album. The bass is pretty damn loud! this really made the album all the more enjoyable for me. "Lookaway" for me is the with the best bass groove in it. Ross Robinson as well as the rest of the staff involving the album's production definitely deserve a thumbs up.

Something that I found absolutely laughable was the way that so many complained about this album being "nu-metal" influenced. From what I hear, Max didn't quite write douchebaggy lyrics and not every track in this album had turntables other than "lookaway". Sure, you can definitely see some korn influence when you talk about the downtuning, but damn it's nowhere near being a important focus of the album. The percussion is definitely much more of a focus in this album rather than any nu-metal or metal specific influence. This album takes a little bit of everything and pretty much combines it with Sepultura's roots.

Overall: An underrated album among thrashers and extreme metal fans. Definitely deserves different perspectives and extra listens.

Brazilians Need To Ban This - 5%

OzzyApu, August 16th, 2012

This album is incredibly hard to sit through for even one song. The mixture of tribal percussion, angsty harsh yelling, groove-laced riffs, jumpdafuckup rhythms, and tough-guy attitude culminates in one of the worst assaults on the ears ever created. It's such a bad combination of the worst nu-metal posturing and least appealing type of metal aggression. On the other end of the album there's the worst execution of tribal elements on a metal album (even with a concluding track to sum up the band's wasted ambition). Sepultura's movement away from the realm of heavy metal left this shitstain - Roots - an overly long, super repetitive, ridiculously boring, and pathetically retarded musical product.

Everyone sucks, from the band members to the accomplices that helped create such a whirlwind of muddy, monotonous songs. "Roots Bloody Roots" - a vanguard that represents the fat, polished grime defining almost every song thereafter - kicks off such an unnecessarily long album. There's no point in having this many tracks of mostly the exact same bland, coarse guitar tone messing with the same downtuned riffs in different variations. Under all of them is this backwash bass guitar tone that's massive. It serves not to play anything memorable (this album is devoid of competent riffs or solos), but to add a heavy layering. Everything is clear and fat like any modern album today would strive to be, so such bass support would work out. Despite a need to nail this particular sound so badly, the album causes this support to backfire by sounding quirky and unorthodox at times as it shifts identities over and over.

Forget the fact that this album has moved away from metal and represents a Sepultura transitioning into other genres. Why in the hell does the music end up so poorly? Even by the standards of a nu-metal / rock album, Roots is an embarrassment. Nothing intellectual was required, but to have lackluster experimentation push simplistic, sterile riffs into the most lifeless of uninteresting proportions with asinine lyrics to back it up is a complete failure. Max's awful caveman yells going in and out of distortion saying the stupidest shit gets annoying, as does every bit of this album's duration. The other Cavalera and his drumming sounds fine tone-wise, but the plainness of the beats and fills is a far cry from the relentless bashing of old.

Don't expect anything catchy as much as something unproductive, aggravating, and derivative. Even the tribal elements or the "folk" aspect of this album (awkward to mix with such music to begin with) is executed in a disappointing way. There's no cohesion, nor is there any real identity or direction for the album. Just a bad concept of too many shitty ideas making their way onto one artifact.

Rotten Soil - 53%

televiper11, June 22nd, 2011

When Roots was released in 1996, I remember being truly excited. Chaos A.D. had been one of my favorite albums, maintaining a steady rotation in my car's cassette deck for well over a year. When a friend handed me a dubbed copy of their latest album, I was stoked. Popping it in the deck, I was immediately confused. Had this been mislabeled? Was this the new Korn album? Nope, that's Max. But seriously, what's up with this derivative sound? Whereas Chaos A.D. had nicely coupled stomping grooves with tribal polyrhythms and hardcore punk and thrash, Roots tipped that sound obscenely over into the groove category, with all the welcome diversity of their previous record snuffed out as well. What had been a perfected thin line of a new sound was now a blurry, muddy mess and Roots would prove to be a record from which Sepultura (and by association Soulfly) would never recover from.

The first major problem I have with this record is the production. The thickness of the sound, the guitar and bass tone, the drum placement -- all of it is a straight xerox of the production job Ross Robinson did for the first Korn album. People went crazy for that sound at the time but it was never a perfect fit for Sepultura as the nuances of the music are lost beneath an artifical glaze of assumed heaviness. The second problem I have is with the lazy, tired musical cliches that surface up from this ugly, over-produced muck.

Now I have no real issue with the tasteful use of groove, and the incorporation of tribal elements into the Sepultura sound makes sense and should've been refreshing. But the songwriting here is tepid at best. When a track works, like the double-bass frenzy of "Attitude" or the menacing headbanger "Roots Bloody Roots," the results impress. But those tracks are front-loaded for a reason. By the time the A-Side gives way to the B-Side, the well has run dry. Whatever interesting ideas the band had are irksomely re-hashed and recycled and this enervating sense of redundancy has kept me from ever listening to Roots all the way through. It just gets boring.

What's worse is that the band experiments in ways that just get too far away from their core sound. A track like "Lookaway" with turntable scratches, hip-hop samples, and a Mike Patton/Jonathan Davis tag team is just blatant pandering at its worst. For a band once as innovative as Sepultura to hop the faddish bandwagon is just saddening. There's also an unflattering strain of angst-driven hardcore tough-guy emoting on the lyrical end that further demonstrates Sep ranging away from their basic metal templates. And while I think there's room for brief acoustic tribal jams, the back-to-back boredom of "Jasco" and "Istari" just sucks the life out of the record. These elements combine with the bad production and limpid songwriting to just drag Roots further down from disappointment to near-disaster. What's left is a mere handful of decent songs and a wrecked legacy that out-right ruined one of metal's most interesting and powerful creations.

Quintessentially Brazilian metal - 97%

sevenlee7, October 11th, 2010

First of all lets get a few things straight.

Sepultura DID NOT record this album in the Amazon! In fact the Amazon had very little influence on this album. So seriously, when people talk of all this "Amazon" stuff, they clearly don't know what they are talking about. The album was mostly recorded in the eastern part of the state of Mato Grosso which may not mean a lot to most people outside of Brazil but trust me, it's not the Amazon.

Next, This is not thrash. It goes without saying right? No one is disputing this but apparently this causes a lot of distress for Sepultura fans who only like the "real" Sepultura i.e. pre Chaos era. OK so after "Arise" they could've taken one of two roads. One, continue down the thrash road and end up like AC/DC or Slayer in that they never change their sound. Or two, do what they did and venture in a different direction. So there lies the argument between fans and no one will ever agree. Personally, I'm glad they changed. Sure I love AC/DC and Slayer but their lack of direction makes me a bit bored sometimes and I find myself only listening to their older stuff anyway. A change in direction can be the best, worst or most indifferent thing that can happen to a band. In Sepultura's case I think it was the best. So when people say "well it doesn't compare to Arise". Of course it doesn't, they are completely different. They changed, get over it.

So lets talk about the album itself.
"Roots Bloody Roots" kicks in and straight away there is a different vibe. It's slower, heavier and deeper than all Sepultura's material that preceeded it. Still a live staple today, "Roots Bloody Roots" is certianly a killer track and I guess one of those songs that is a lot more accessible to the mainstream.

"Attitude" follows it up, begining with the unmistakable sound of the Berimbau. A uniquely Brazilian one stringed instrument that compliments Sepultura's sound perfectly and is the perfect introduction to one of the heaviest tracks on the album.

When it comes to change of sound, the examples dont get more fitting than "Ratamahatta". With the Brazilian beats and assistance from the Xavante tribe, Sepultura create a track that certainly doesn't have an equal anywhere outside this album. One could almost argue that this is the archetypal "Roots" song. Metal guitar heavily interlaced with Brazilian influences and lyrics in Portuguese.

Later sees the least metal part of the album in the form of "Jasco" and "Itsári". "Jasco" is a lone little guitar piece that shouldn't be a surprise to Sepultura fans as they'd already dabbled with this type of track with "The Abyss". Yet this one is much different in that the scale Andreas uses is much more different and exotic than most used to hearing. It's a fantastic little ditty that, for guitarists, is a great joy to master and play. "Itsári" is a pleasant track that is mainly light acoustic guitar with chanting and other contributions again from the Xavante tribe.

The album finishes (unless of course you have the Digipak version) with perhaps their most intense moment in "Dictatorshit". Heavily distorted and lightning fast, it's probably the only track that would satisfy the fans of "real" Sepultura.

The guitars are tuned low and are heavily distorted. Igor's drumming is at it's best and while replacing the sometimes monotonous thrash drumming style with a more groove orientated sound, it's no less impressive. OK so the lyrics are, well, not the most poetic or sophisticated but that's Max and in my opinion his passion when singing them makes up for the lack of sophistication.

Above all else, though, what makes this album so amazing is that it really is the most Brazilian any Brazilian band has sounded. Heavy metal is not a Brazilian invention but of course metal is for everyone worldwide and like the world itself, it is varied and unique depending on where it comes from, or at least it should be. America had the bay area thrash, Britain had NWOBHM, Sweden has Gothenburg metal but what about Brazil? Sure Brazil isn't exactly the most influential country when it comes to metal. Brazilian bands such as Angra, Korzus, Sarcófago, Torture Squad and Eminence are all playing heavy music but if you just listened to the music and you didn't know, it could think it was from anywhere. I consider myself lucky to be living in Brazil and while most Brazilians will sit there and tell you about the horrible aspects of their country such as violence, poverty and corruption, in the same breath they'll tell you they wouldn't live anywhere else. They have a right to be proud of their country and its amazing and varied culture. However, when it comes to metal, that culture never comes out in the music and personally I think it's a shame. When you listen to "Roots", there is little doubt where this album originates from. Some may call it a cheap attempt to cash in on some exotic sound but I strongly disagree. I think Sepultura was the only band to have the balls to heavily lace their music with sounds and language of their native country and I think bands should do it more often. Why do we expect bands from different places to all sound the same? Why do we expect them to all sing in English? There are so many fascinating sounds from so many different cultures around the world and many of those would fit into metal so well, for me it's a shame it isn't exploited more often.

So love it or hate it, I still maintain that while it certainly isn't the fastest or thrashiest of Sepultura's albums, it's the most interesting, dynamic, coolest sounding and in my opinion, their best.

Thick and dense as the roots of Amazon - 82%

Chainedown, May 10th, 2009

It seems as if everything that can be said about this album has already been said. But then why should I write this review and would want anyone to read it? Because I feel like there are aspects of this album that have been barely discussed, if any at all.

This is a dangerous album to review, because it's a touchy subject among metal fans. With this album Sepultura hurt many old fans and delighted many others that cared less. But, in my personal view, here's other ways how this album is/was dangerous...

#1: Musical fusion - brilliance or cheap exploitation of tribal music?

I've heard many opinions about Sepultura and Roots, but no one has seemed to have questioned this before, because too many people are hung up on how "nu-metal" the album sounds. When I first heard about Roots, I immediately wondered if this is some stupid attempt to be exotic, where it was more about novelty than the substance. We've seen that happen many times in popular music. A prime example was when Paul Simon wrote "Graceland" and did some shows in Africa; I couldn't help but to feel that the album ultimately served as just another way for the "intelligent" white man to gain more glory and praise by using the music of "tribal" black men.

Thank god that's not exactly the case here. Max Cavalera and the band seems to be really in touch with the frustration that Xavante Indians possess. While the Xavantes are the political and social weaklings of Brazil, Sepultura was also an outcast of society in their early existence, being a bunch of scary metalheads. Sepultura also knows the difficulty of being the weak people in politics, since they are from a somewhat struggling third-world country (Brazil) that's been trying to gain more presence in international politics and economy. Sepultura approached the Indians for collaborations for the right reasons. It was the commonality they shared - social weakness, passion to refuse and resist oppression, and use of music as a weapon to guard their identity, that made this fusion of Xavante's music and sepultura's aggression work so well. By keeping lyrical content strictly to hymns of resistance that both camps relate to, Sepultura really justifies the musical experiment of the album.

#2: Alternative/nu-metal sound - Is this the first time the band sold out?

I think this just depends on your perspective. Obviously many people see the abandonment of technical guitar work as an act of sell-out. Lack of solos piss me off too - yes, you hear one brief solo on "Endangered Species," but that's 14th track for fuck's sake - having one brief solo at the end of an album is really half-assed to me.

But wait a minute. Couldn't you call their transition from their early Morbid/Schizo sound to Beneath/Arise sound an act of "selling out" too? Sure, a shift away from satanist metal to thrash metal is a relatively small shift, but thrash was hot in the late 80s. It was marketable. It was the cool shit. Even Slayer stopped being blatantly satanic by the time Seasons in the Abyss came out in 1990. Isn't getting rid of Satanist metal for "thrash" in late 80s not that different as getting rid of thrash for newer, $$$ sound of alternative?

In Sepultura's defense though, Roots is clearly one of the best alternative/nu-metal albums. Period. No questions asked, and I'm not going to debate this with anyone. Even though Beneath and Arise weren't innovative, they were amazing albums good enough to be considered classic for the thrash genre. Likewise, Roots is an album that should be considered essential for nu-metal genre. But unlike Beneath/Arise, Roots was an genre-starting album rather than carrying the torch. And even though it's got a large element of nu-metal, remember folks, Sepultura did it with just 6 string guitars - no 7-string guitar Ibanez bullshit like everyone else.

#3: "Don't fuck with me" vibe of the album - a true sense of danger or just childish rants?

Earlier I mentioned lyrics being relevant to political and social resistance. We all know well that nu-metal generally has horrible lyrics and a lot of personal anger that lacks purpose and offers no closure or solution. Here, it sounds like aimless rants too, at first. However, on this album the primal expression of anger is carried out with a clear objective. Pick any lyrics, and you'll see that they're simplistic, rhymes here and there but not really, etc. These lyrics individually might not impress you, but when it's striking at a same issue so consistently from "Roots Bloody Roots" to "Dictatorshit," it inevitably breeds a solid sense of purpose and inspiration to care about justice.

As far as vocals go, this is Max's best work ever. His screams on this album is a style all on its own. It's sincere and full of indignation, and Roots is more dependent on Max's vocal talent than anything else, even though the same could not be said of the band's previous albums. Particularly on "Roots Bloody Roots" does Max really shine - he is so intense on it that every single live performance I have seen pales to the recorded vocals.

The best part of it all is that the message of the album is political while being devoid of political ideals - it's easier to listen to Roots as music than the music of Rage Against the Machine or System of a Down where dogmatic politics can get really annoying. It's also aggressive only as much as it is necessary - like a desperate cry out of self-defense. The simple vocal delivery that taps mankind's primal instincts added to the thematic consistency, and ultimately made the album personal and political yet easy to digest and relate to without being excessive in violence. The lyrics and vocals on this album is probably why "Sepultura=Max" to many people, regardless of their opinion on Roots or even Chaos A.D. Max's vocals is really memorable.

My final verdict:

Roots is inconsistent compared to albums up to Arise, or the recent masterpiece like A-Lex. Songs after the great instrumentals "Jasco" and "Itsari" just feels misplaced, because those two songs totally chills out the mood and kills the momentum (it's exacerbated by the middle-part of "Ambush" as well). That's too bad because the entire album up to that point is perfect - even "Lookaway," which might come across as aimless to some, provoked an image of a dense Amazon jungle and maintained that dangerous feel. No songs on this album is a "filler," but if Roots was meant to be a true battle cry of personal and political fury, then it should have left a couple tracks out or have tracklist arranged better. If I could've, I would've suggested to Sepultura to cut "Itsari" a little shorter too in order to not kill the momentum of the punk-like aggression.

I am neither the type to think that this was an utter piece of shit, nor the type to praise this as "Sepultura's best album ever," although I do lean towards the latter than the former. No matter how flawed it is and how frustrating it is at times, this album is a classic. Why? Because nothing sounded like this before or after. Not even Sepultura, Soulfly, or Cavalera Conspiracy could sound dangerous like that since. No wonder no one has played "Ratamahatta" and many other songs off Roots.

The Royal Seal of Gayness. (Valedictorian) - 0%

hells_unicorn, October 11th, 2008
Written based on this version: 1996, CD, Roadrunner Records

There is a certain class of albums that are, by their very nature, utterly repulsive to anyone who loves heavy metal, particularly the brand that existed before 1992. It isn’t so much a matter of the music contained within not being aggressive enough, technically proficient enough, or that the lyrics aren’t conducive to the multifaceted nature of the style per say. If those were the standard, this band’s classic debut “Morbid Visions” wouldn’t be lauded as a grand pioneering effort by many fans of thrash, death, and black metal respectively. The ultimate issue is what the culture it represents holds in opposition to metal culture, and consequently the manner in which the music is presented in the sum of all its various parts.

Sepultura’s “Roots” doesn’t really qualify as groove metal or industrial metal in the general sense as its predecessor did, nor is it fully in the realm of avant-garde music or nu-metal. It’s sort of stuck in between all of those, and basically functioned as a template that greatly influenced all of those various off-shoots in certain respects after its release. It was itself heavily influenced by newer sounds such as Korn’s mallcore creation, Faith No More’s experimental material, as well as the slowly emerging rap/rock scene known today as nu-metal, underscored by the fact that central figures in all 3 scenes provided guest work on here. To a zombie-like adherent of pop culture, this is the perfect stew of every dumb assed form of pop/rock that was burning up the top 200 at the time with a hodgepodge of artsy nonsense which had slightly less of a following, but to someone who expects metal in their speakers, it's nothing more than a random mess of decrepit mainstream drivel. If there were an actual school where one learned to trade in their metal credentials for a diploma/stamp of approval in the fine art of crappy rock music (which I have dubbed The Royal Seal of Gayness), this release would be its valedictorian.

The complete departure from anything resembling a recognizable form of metal covers every second of sonic diarrhea splashed upon this piece of toilet paper that happens to be shaped like a CD and playable in a CD player. Evil sounding death barks are nowhere to be found, as good old Max Cavalera has decided that imitating Jonathan Davis’ whinny yells and incoherent mumbles is the way to go here. Fast and fun drum beats have been traded in for hypnotic drum beats and random tribal percussive interludes, both of which clash with each other completely and sound as if someone is playing two different songs simultaneously through the same stereo system. The guitars are as muddy as a swamp of coccidian infested elephant excrement that listen about as sour as the actual condition would smell in reality, and the riffs consist mostly of 2 note/chord drudgery that is repetitive enough to make “Chaos A.D.” sound like “Beneath The Remains”. Throw in a few really comical sounding effects such as record scratches; overly present vocal distortion, dissonant 2 note tremolo leads with effects that make them sound even more out of tune, and a whole bunch of other crap that should never be mixed in together.

Although differentiating each individual song is not extremely difficult due to the wide variety of elements at play, nothing on here can really be enjoyed if you liked any of this band’s past work, particularly their 80s albums. Anyone suggesting as such is not doing so because they listen to music on the merits, but because they are subject to the indoctrination of mainstream music via the radio. “Roots Bloody Roots” introduces us to the 2 note goodness of modern mallcore riffing, borrowing heavily from Korn’s debut both musically and vocally. There are probably 4 actual riffs to this whole song, but if you cancel out distinctions between riffs consisting of single notes versus ones that follow the same pattern and rhythm but use power chords, there are only 2. This form of non-variation is bolstered a little by annoying high end guitar screeches loaded with processed flanger effects and a slight change in beat to give the illusion of variation, but really what you get is 3 and ½ minutes of Cavalera crying like a bitch in heat overtop of an extremely annoying, one-dimensional, droning background.

From here on in, we get various regurgitations of this simpleton approach to song creation, making one wonder if this entire album was written over a weekend with Patton and Davis coaching the band on what will get them radio play. “Attitude” and “Cut” have a little more variation to them; the latter actually has a little guitar solo that would be good if it wasn’t drowned in maxed out flanger effects, but the vocals are so high in the mix you can hardly make out what’s going on beneath them, not that you’d actually want to. “Ramatahatta” takes the same 2 or 3 note droning, mud stomping, guitar groove style and loads it up with weird percussive tribal lingo out of some guest vocalist and Cavalera in a question and response style that sounds more like someone beating on a plastic bucket than an actual person talking. “Breed Apart” ratchets up the lameness further still with a complete imitation of both Davis’ bitchy yells and his disturbingly erotic whisper/speak. Parts of this have riffs consisting of one note, so of course we need to mask it with more Brazilian percussion and studio gimmicks, like pouring a gallon jug of perfume on a mud drenched warthog.

On and on this thing plods through the sewage drenched seas of groovy sludge, occasionally morphing into something tribal sounding, while at others just loading up on the rap and ambient guitar nonsense and being even more unlistenable. “Straighthate” starts off with this really annoying one note bass drone loaded with feedback drenched guitar harmonics that sound like a tiger mauling a chalk board with its front claws. At about the 1:15 mark we get about 10 seconds of pure groove metal where we have a unified arrangement and an actual guitar riff to speak of, but what little enjoyment might be gotten from it is utterly destroyed by the mess that follows it. That’s basically how the album functions, every now and then, they’ll revisit their groove/thrash past here and there as if to remind the listener that this used to be a metal band and torture him further. “Spit” annoys the listener further still by actually taking out a lot of the studio gimmicks and putting in 3 or 4 half-decent groove riffs, but compensates for this obvious positive by making Cavalera’s distortion steeped voice so ridiculously loud in the mix that you can’t hear it half of the time.

If one were to ignore the 13 minute jam session at the end of this and focus on the 15 actual songs (I use this term loosely of course), at this point we come to the center and the trough of this seemingly endless valley of garbage in “Lookaway”. If you ignore the 3 way vocal gimp festival going on and just focus on the guitars, what you have are verse sections that literally sound like an extended fart sample. The lyrics on this literally sound like they are referring to a vagina being violated, although superimposing the vocalists themselves into the picture, 3 vaginas would be the actuality of it. Hearing Cavalera and Davis at the same time, it is definitely clear that the former is a little manlier in sound, but that’s not saying much. Patton is basically just blurting out gibberish at random, serving only to throw off any sense of rhythmic cohesion that this fudge dragon of a song actually possesses. As a whole, this monstrosity is the worst thing ever to be put to music; the world’s largest brontosaurus enema couldn’t clean this thing up.

In keeping with the capricious nature of mainstream taste, some acoustic stuff highlighting some false sense of versatility becomes obligatory, so let us proceed to the twin odes to the primitive in “Iasco” and “Itsari”. I’m not fully opposed to the idea of meshing Brazilian tribal chant and percussion with metal music, as Angra actually did a decent job of it on “Holy Land”, but this is just utterly boring. “Itsari” is basically a near carbon copy of “Kaiowos” with sampled chants in the background, while “Iasco” is similar sounding to the same “Chaos A.D.” song but is about half as long yet meanders twice as much. If you put both of these songs on a continued loop and subjected every environmental activist on the planet to it for 30 minutes, you’d likely see the world singing in unison for the final solution to the rainforest question and could then make a killing in the chainsaw and torch business once slash and burn policies began to commence.

If you’ve managed to suffer through the entire duration of the first 14 songs, we are greeted with one song that actually passes for metal, albeit something along the lines of thrash/crossover with pretty poor vocals. For all of its lyrical stupidity and horribly over-distorted vocals, “Dictatorshit” has a good riff or two buried in the arrangement and a guitar solo that would be good if it wasn’t buried under too many effects. Unfortunately, being just over a minute in time length, the song presents itself not so much as a breath of fresh air after nearly an hour of torturous suffocation, but as an insult to the listener by reminding them that this band is capable of rocking out, but utterly refuses to do so. Why the fuck would you put one decent little ditty right at the end of a mountain of dog shit? It makes zero sense logically, although given the influences at work here; it actually makes perfect sense nonetheless.

It’s one thing to be a pioneer of something as terrible as mallcore like Korn was, it is quite another to be a well established thrash act from the 80s who pioneered the death metal style, and then jumped on board the latest fad like a whore onto her next customer. The fact that this new customer (genre) is ugly as hell only further adds insult to injury. You can get a level of enjoyment out of Pantera’s and Machine Head’s music from this time period, regardless how inferior the music is, but this just has nothing redeeming to speak of. It has rightfully earned not only the honor of being stamped with The Royal Seal of Gayness, but the top status as valedictorian of the class for its helping spread the mallcore virus through the classrooms of crappy core high school, where all metal ceases to be.

Originally submitted to ( on October 11, 2008.

Mixed feelings - 65%

morbert, June 1st, 2007

You know what the really funny thing is. When someone just doesn’t like a transitional album, frantic fans will always use the same argument: “You would have liked it if you were ‘open minded’ ”. The 1996 album ‘Roots’ is a classic example of an album that devides us all and a lot had been said on here already. I for one hope to have an opinion that is slighty different.

The album of course has gone down in history as the most important album to mix Brazilian music with metal. So far I really like the idea. Nothing wrong with those great rhythms and what a marvellous thought to introduce these into the metalscene. I’m always up for some really new ideas or innitialy crazy approaches. A lot of songs on this album are pretty good and do a good job of blending these styles. The titletrack is amazingly powerful and so was its video. More powerful actually than their previous album in terms of aggression and intensity. In essence it is a midtempo metal song with additional Brazilian elements. Second really superb song is ‘Ratamahatta’. The blend is perfect here since neither one of the styles takes the upper hand and the lead mixed vocals are simply great.

Third place really goes to 'Born Stubborn' which is heavy, catchy and even danceable! great rhythms here and quite some happy riffs. Once again this is a song in which both styles blend perfectly. Fourth place will definately be 'Dusted' which is the missling link between the average sound of this album and its predecessor 'Chaos A.D.' with the emphasis on the latter.

Also worth mentioning is my personal fifth place 'Spit' which is actually a midpaced punksong reminiscent of Amebix and the slower works of Discharge. Okay, so there also was a short uptempo song for all those fans who had liked ‘Biotech is Godzilla’ and all the punk-covers Sepultura had recorded throughout the years but ‘Dictatorshit’ was no old thrasher yet still an entertaining song.

But really, how much I tried, all the other songs didn't really do it for me. not even 'Jasco' and 'Istari' because one ‘Kaiowas’ is enough for me and a chanting village doesn't change the fact that these acoustic intermezzos of Cavalera and Kisser all sound the same. Most of the other songs are midpaced and slowpaced nu-metal with incidental use of extra instruments like Berimbau on intros and in middlesections. Not really a blending of the styles you see but more of a contrived copy/paste approach compositionally. Real low points are ‘Attitued’ and ‘Lookaway’. The songs in essence are simply bad, boring, dull and the use of extra instruments doesn’t change that.

Still, after 11 years the album has some material that I wouldn't want to miss in my collection but also a lot of songs I must skip or else I'll go mad. For the originality, heavy sound and those mentioned 6 great songs I really must give them 85 points. All those other songs however take it down to 65 points.

Roots Bloody Good Roots - 85%

All_Of_Life_Decays, April 27th, 2007

Roadrunner Records 1995
Reviewed: Special edition 2005

Brazilian metallists retreat into the Brazilian jungle and re-emerge with this lovingly repackaged masterwork.

It’s not every day that you happen upon a truly original album. An album where the musicians immerse themselves in the very elements of their heritage, and allow it to change them into an artistic force the likes of which will never be seen again. An album that is as much about a country and a civilization as a band. But then, it’s not every day that you hear an album like “Roots”.

Brazilian thrash metal monsters Sepultura’s sixth album was always going to be a challenge. How could a band possibly improve on the brilliance that was the legendary “Chaos AD”? One thing was for sure; they could only fail by walking the same path they had successfully journeyed five times before. So they decided to extract their patented take on crushingly heavy thrash/death metal, a hint of the at-the-time cutting edge nu-metal sound, and most importantly, their Brazilian musical culture, and create something monumental. The result is "Roots". From working alongside the famous percussionist Carlinhos Brown on the landmark song “Ratamahatta” to performing with the Xavantes Tribe, the true music of Brazil, an exclusive club which Sepultura must surely now belong to, is explored and incorporated. And it works perfectly.

From the opening echoes that introduce the metal anthem “Roots Bloody Roots” to the end, the intriguing, initially untitled “Canyon Jam”, this is so heavy you can feel it pressing from inside you outwards. However, it is unquestionably the balance that this record achieves that makes it so essential. For every few guitar-heavy thrash masterwork there is a mild-mannered acoustic track or samba-groove piece. However, it is the songs which sound so integrally “Brazilian” that work the best. While the aforementioned “Ratamahatta” is spectacular, and obviously of this criterion, it is the excellent "Itsari", a track recorded at the traditional home of the Xavantes tribe, with the tribe’s people chanting in the background that truly realizes the goal of this album .Also notable is the obvious Nu-metal influence. But of course, this is the grimy, grinding, painful nu-metal KoRn were successfully peddling before Linkin Park and company introduced a new generation to heavy music, thus defining the Mallcore label that is now used by anyone looking to incriminate anything more melodic than Anal Cunt. Indeed, KoRn singer Jonathon Davis and future Limp Bizkit member DJ Lethal contribute to the song “Lookaway".

However, despite this indigenous, acoustic twist, this is an extreme metal album and this is an extreme metal band, and throughout the majority of the album, this shows. The tracks, even through their progressive ideas, are still packed with enough metal brilliance to remind people; this is Sepultura, one of the main innovators of death/thrash, perhaps proving themselves the equals of legends like Slayer, Kreator or Death Angel. The enthusiastic passion for music that these men show is infectious, and the guitars still grind, the drums still pound and the vocals are still as raw, hostile and ferocious as they were when this band were still playing songs with names like “Dead Embryonic Cells”. Of course, they mellow out when performing with the indigenous people - they would probably otherwise be mistaken for demons - but tracks such as “Roots Bloody Roots”, “Attitude” and “Endangered Species” all chug along superbly, and leave you full, happy and satisfied by the time the sixteen tracks are over.

And what sixteen tracks they are. We are taken from a grinding manifesto of the album via an anti-deforestation song, among others, to what a Brazilian carnival may sound like if a bouncier Slayer tribute band was playing. From there, we are bought through the dark, heavy world of aggression to a sudden clearing. An acoustic piece followed by the mighty “Itsari”, and, following a few last songs, the conclusion a strangely haunting thirteen-minute instrumental - of sorts – which consists of them throwing rocks or playing strange instruments in a cleverly microphoned canyon. The sounds, initially weird, paint a haunting soundscape progressive bands like Opeth, Coheed and Cambria, and Sunn 0))) still struggle to create.

The only criticisms that the more metal-y tracks have a tenancy to meld into one another; there's only so much you can do with downtuned guitars. The album is also overlong; at over 72 minutes, it seems like the kind of challenge you just can’t be bothered with. However, it is a suitably heavy, and surprisingly progressively-minded, release from a band who completely deserve all of their success. “Roots” is earthy, organic, deep, and indigenous; primitive, yet compelling.

This is an album which gives so much, and only asks that you allow it to unravel itself .While not as good as “Chaos AD”, this is clearly a great album that, even in retrospect, deserved every bit of praise it got. Even though Roadrunner Records themselves told Sepultura this concept was “commercial suicide”, that the album saw such critical and commercial mass worship speaks for itself; originality isn’t as loathed as was previously thought. This is the reason Breed 77 included their native flamenco music into their style, of why System of a Down were given a chance to sound so strangely Serbian. This is an outstanding work of sonic art that still seems new and exiting to those of us who only discover it now.

Only repetition and length problems stop this being on par with the metal greats, but hey, you can’t fault their artistic integrity.

The death of a once excellent band. - 15%

LordBelketraya, January 2nd, 2007

I first heard about this band when this album came out back in '96. I heard 'Roots Bloody Roots' and I thought it was an okay song. I decided to buy the album and I believe that after listening to the entire album about 3 times I just put it away in the corner assuming that I would listen to it again someday. About 5 years later it collected dust and eventually was sold with other used cd's that didn't cut the mustard either.

I had a friend who swore that Sepultura was fucking lengendary and I had looked at him like "what's so legendary about these guys?". He lent me two cd's, 'Schizophrenia' and Beneath The Remains'. Those two releases alongside 'Arise' and yeah even 'Chaos AD' is what made them the best metal band from Brazil, ever. Roots is just a sellout atrocity. With Chaos AD it was a step in a different direction into Tribal Metal which was new at the time and not a bad idea, especially when its executed right. It was a really good album in my eyes, but little did I know what monsters it would create just 3 years later. The mistake Sepultura or Max made was to keep going in the same direction. These guys were the fucking shit at making true thrash metal. They drifted away from it with Chaos AD which was okay as long as it was a "one-off" thing. Kind of like giving them time to think up some good thrash riffs and to decompress from it as well.

So three years later they embrace their new style and completely make a half-assed album. The guitars are downtuned too much, the lyrics are something that an angry high school teen may have written while listening to Shitknot. I'm not sure if this was Max's idea to make this type of music of the entire band, but if indeed it was Max who thought up this garbage it makes sense he's no longer with the band. With his new band 'Soulfly' he can do all the Tribal/Nu/Groove Metal he wants without conflict of interest since he IS the band. Roots marked the "end" of Sepultura in many fans eyes. It was the last album with the original lineup of Max and Igor Cavalera with A.Kisser and Paulo Jr. Also a huge chunk of their fanbase went away knowing that this was it for them. In a way this album is so fucking terrible that the band 10-11 years on still haven't recovered from it.

Even though the last two albums Roorback and Dante XXI are actually better than Roots and some of the most listenable material from them since 1993 the damage has been done. A big thing that Roots did was spawn bands like Korn, Shitknot, all the other Nu-Metal/Groove bands that occupy people's ipods now. The teenagers of today think this is metal music, if only they could hear some of this bands material from 85-91 along with Sextrash, Sarcofago, Massacra, Kreator, Death and Possessed. Music today would benefit from people listening to the real music from that era. Maybe even Speultura themselves.

As for the album Roots, I am required to actually review this thing. The music takes the idea initially used on 'Chaos AD' and goes further into it. But using more of a South American rhythm and tribal sound while completely sacrificing any real guitar rhythm or solos that was in abundance just a few years prior. It seems like this was released just to make a buck, it was their most commercially successful release and very visible to the average joe, unfortunately people formed bands to this style of music. The first song 'Roots Bloody Roots' is listenable for a couple of minutes when you realize that the lyrics really have no depth or actual thought behind them and without riffs your attention drifts away. 'Ratamahatta' sounds like Korn went on a trip to the Amazon jungle and made a song about it, just mumbling and screaming gibberish. The rest of the album doesn't offer anything different or nor does it give you hope of rekindling the past. It's so bad it's depressing, mainly because this was the same band that made classic songs like; Mass Hypnosis, Dead Embryonic Cells, Septic Schizo, Troops Of Doom, etc. Pick anything from 85-93. It blows this away by miles.

I give this a fifteen because some songs do grab your attention and in some way it's like a car accident, you can't help but look away. With this you can't help but listen to what all the negativity is about. People familar with the old stuff will cry after hearing this album. Shame on you guys for making this album.

Attitude & Respect - 84%

zyon, June 11th, 2005

What's left to say about Sepultura? That it's probably the best selling third world band ever? That they're going facedown to the ground since the leaving of Max "I am the Soulfly-Ego" Cavalera? "Chaos A.D." went golden and "Roots" went double gold in Holland (trust me, that's a good thing). That the difference between their first and last records is so huge that even the development of a butterfly contains more radical changes? That "Roots" was the first piece of metal I bought? Nah, I think the band-name speaks for itself. The style on this first piece of Sepultura is totally different from "Roots". They started as a full-on death metal band, finding their roots on "Beneath The Remains' (1989) and re-discovered 'em in 1991, with the release of "Arise". And then, five years later, one of the finest works of the 90's is released.

Simply called "Roots", the album shows more tribal influences than a reggae-bar. Songs like "Jasco" and "Itsari" are nothing more than the drumming on a Brazilian bongo, the total opposition of the album opener, "Roots Bloody Roots" (who's the sinner that doesn't know this song?). "Roots" is a turning point in history, and possiblly the reason why other Brazilian bands (like Agresion and Retturn) decide to put a coin in the thrash-metal bag. And they can't be blamed. There is not a band which can equal the quality of a Sepultura record. Just because of the simple fact that songs like "Attitude", "Spit" and "Breed Apart" are so good, they'd ought tp give Max a medal!! His 'straight-in-your-face'-voice sets the tone on "Roots Bloody Roots" (ROOOOTS BLOODY ROOOOTS!!!!!!!) and "Attitude" ('Can you take it? / I won't take it!'). Then, after bursting through "Cut-Throat", there's a 20-second warm-up for "Ratamahatta". Enough time to take a glass of water and then roar along with Max and Carlinhos Brown. Following songs, "Breed Apart" and "Straigthate" are pressure-building songs, as I'd like to call them. Long songs, starting off slowly and eventually turn into a metal assault, with which you'd get your grandma deaf (that is, if she has survived the first 3 tracks). The production of "Spit" and "Dusted" could have been better. Not really surprising, not with the likes of Ross Robinson (Slipknot, Korn) working with Sepultura.

The following 2 tracks, "Jasco" and "Itsari" could have been produced by either me, you or Ross, since they're nothing more then some drumming on tribal drums, allowing you some time to get back to breath. And you'll need it, since "Dictatorshit" and "Endangered Species" are Sepultura as we known them: furious, fast metal with even more furious vocals (or should I say; screams?). Album closer, and hidden track "Canyon Jam" is based on the intro, but develops into some drumming that could have been recorded in some canyon, bouncing nicely away through your walls, they'll have your neighbours screaming to stop. Like with every good record.

If I wrote this review in '96, when it was released, I'd predict something like world domination, but with the loss of a mighty fine frontman in the shape of Max Cavalera, I'm sorry to say that "Roots" was the last Sepultura album that still proves some of the hidden quality that Sepultura had to show, since 12 years weren't enough. The world is falling apart, just several months after it's found his roots. I'm sorry.

The Mallcore Virus Strikes Again... - 17%

High_On_Maiden, May 7th, 2005

News Flash:

While trekking the Amazon in search of inspiration for their newfound tribal gimmick, it seems that once-great Brazilian thrashers Sepultura caught some sort of tropical virus. Symptoms of this mysterious plague were showing themselves in the band’s previous few releases, but the disease finally surfaced with the release of ‘Roots’, and has persisted in their releases ever since, showing no signs of recovery. These symptoms include thinking down-tuning is cool, and that writing suitably threatening lyrics makes up for an absence of riffs.

Though having clung on to the last threads of riff sanity for the previous few years, the band was finally defeated by their condition and succumbed to the full horrors of their fate. Simplistic, ape-like groove riffs began to emerge from their once blistering amplifiers, Max Cavalera’s vocals horrifically morphed into an amalgam of angsty socio-political lyrics and unconvincing anger, and they even consorted with fellow sufferers Jonathan Davies from the terminally-ill Korn and DJ Lethal of pestilent Limp Bizkit fame. Seemingly gone was Igor Cavalera’s competence as a percussive force to be reckoned with, and no amount of “tribal” gimmicks could disguise the severity of Sepultura’s decline.

Bafflingly, many in the wider music community hailed this release as a classic of heavy riffage and aggression, and the jewel of the band’s catalogue, suggesting firstly that they have not had the pleasure of encountering any of the band’s previous albums, and also that this disease is more widespread than first thought. It has been suggested that this plague is spread by such avenues as MTV and Kerrang.

This band is not the only one affected by this worrying contamination, but the common reason for its spread is thought to be DISTINCT LACK OF RIFF IDEAS. If you are in a thrash band and have been suffering from a lack of riffs – perhaps you have even started down-tuning and writing lyrics about “motherfuckers”? – then don’t panic, see your doctor and get him to prescribe you a liberal dosage of Kreator, Dark Angel, or other approved thrash remedies and you will be well on your way to recovery.

Let Sepultura be a warning to others – if the symptoms are there, don’t let the disease grow, or you will be another victim of MALLCOROSIS!

Masterpiece of an album for open minds - 92%

arhar, March 9th, 2003

Too many times I have heard the same stereotypical response from all sorts of metalheads: “Roots sucked, Sepultura was never good after their thrash days!” I must say I couldn’t disagree more. To me, this album is Sepultura’s finest hour, an album where they finally discovered a unique, amazing sound that many tried to copy, but failed.

But let’s start from the beginning. Sepultura have come a long way since their “primordial evil” sound on their debut, “Bestial Devastation” (1985). They abandoned death metal for thrash, thrash for groove-metal on “Chaos AD” (1993), and finally, their search for a unique sound has come to an end on this album. Make no mistake about it – this is still HEAVY METAL, but a very different style of it indeed. The most unique thing about this album, for those that don’t know, is that Max&Co incorporated a lot of Brazilian folk influences and mixed them well with metal to create a fresh and unmatched mixture.

The guitars are down tuned quite a bit. Majority of headbangers don’t like that, but for me, it adds to the overall atmosphere pretty nicely. For the most part, songs are slow, crushingly brutal, and with a lot of “groove”. The album opens with “Roots Bloody Roots”, slow and maddening number that gets your blood boiling and gets you into the right mood for the album. My advice is to forget all critique you’ve heard about it and try to enjoy it regardless of what others say. The next track, “Attitude”, starts off with a strange sound on some Brazilian instrument, whose name escapes me at the time, it slowly turns into a crushing anthem of youth, giving a middle finger to the authority and establishment. But don’t think that sluggish and devastating numbers are the only thing Sepultura offers on this album. There are straight-up metal and punk (yes, punk) songs, fast and uncontrollable, there is an amazing classical piece, performed by Andreas Kisser on the acoustic guitar; there are tribal jams and chants, recorded while band-members were living at the Amazon jungle with Indians…. Doesn’t sound like your typical metal album, does it?

The lyrics are a separate matter entirely. Gone are the primitive “hell and brimstone” lyrics of the past, written when the band members didn’t even speak English. The lyrics strike a nostalgic chord in me every time I read them. For you see, this was the first extreme metal album I’ve ever listened to back in 1996, and for a teenager who just moved to another country and had a lot of issues to deal with it, this lyrics meant a whole lot to me. Sure, now some people dismiss, not even bothering to read them, as “another mallcore whining”, forgetting that this album was way before TV and Radio got saturated with the likes of Slipknot and Linkin Park. “Criticize me, call me negative, but you never deal with life or reality, I separate myself from the rest, what the fuck do you expect?!?!”… “Live your life not the way they taught you , do what you feel. Survive the jungle, Give me blood, Give me Pain, These scars won't heal” … And, of course “Sepultura in our hearts, Can't take it away, These Roots will always remain…” It’s ironic how a year after singing this, Max Cavalera has left Sepultura, and in another year he was fronting a mallcore band, while the rest of Sepultura without him quickly descended into hardcore mediocrity….

Highlights: Title track, “Attitude”, “Straighthate”, “Jasco”, “Born Stubborn”
Lows: “Lookaway” and “Itsari”
Final Verdict: On “Roots”, Sepultura explode with influences from every possible and impossible source. If you actually give this album a chance without prejudice, you’re in for a great listen. As for me, no matter what music I will listen to at the moment, this album will always hold a warm place in my heart for introducing me to Sepultura, and to heavy metal in general (before it my knowledge of it was limited to Metallica and Scorpions).

Complete fucking crap - 8%

UltraBoris, August 18th, 2002

So Sepultura wakes up one day, realising that they've competely shat on their thrash careers by releasing the abortion known as "Chaos AD" so they figure, what the fuck, they haven't go t much to lose... "let's try to cram as many really fucking retarded ideas into one album as is humanly possible!"

Remember kids, they ran out of riffs halfway through the Beneath the Remains tour, and just barely had enough left over for Arise, so don't expect to suddenly find any on this album. What there is, however, is a whole fucking lot of shitty, shitty mallcore. And groove - oh yes, when you're missing riffs, you gotta go for the groove. Songs like "Attitude" and "Born Stubborn" are the best examples of silly modern rock with dumbassed guitar work, played slowly-to-midpace with no conviction. Even Chaos AD sounded better than this, it's that bad.

Oh there's the tribal angle too... yes, they really fucking play this one up - because something's gotta come in now that all the riffs have gone. There's one song here ("Itsari") that's all tribal chanting, and I don't think the band even is featured on this track!! The silly shit props up in a bunch of other songs, including "Roots Bloody Roots" and more... I mean, in and of itself, "Itsari" is okay for what it is, but when you try to combine that sort of thing with guitars, it just ... doesn't ... work ... AT ALL!! It's like having yourself a nice refreshing slice of pizza, and washing it down with some tasty, delicious anti-freeze!!!

Then you've got the really amazing lyrics. I mean, Sepultura never really had great lyrics, but at least they were never this overtly prominent in the mix where you were forced to listen to their sheer monstrosity. "When you go down! When you go down motherfucker!" Oh yes, I'm really feeling the intelligence now.

Oh yeah and there's the guest vocals and shit. "Look Away" has two of our favourite characters, none other than Jonathan Davis and Fred Durst. Such a shame that the Air Force wasn't conducting maneuvers in the area and "accidentally" dropped a thousand-pound munition on that room when this was taking place.

My God, this album is so fucking atrocious. It's the equivalent of shitting on the ceiling. Sure, it's different, and takes some effort, but in the end, it's just shit all the same.