SEPULTURA – ‘A-Lex’
If there is another band more haunted by their past than Sepultura, then god help them. Despite the fact that frontman Derrick Green has been centre stage with the Brazilian titans for almost as long as original member Max Cavalera, despite the fact that this is Green’s fifth record at the helm, and despite the fact that none of those records have been disappointing, people still pine for the band’s fast, thrashing past. Also, as if it will convince the defiantly nostalgic or the unadventurous to give this record, and the new line-up of Sepultura that made it, a fair chance, ‘A-Lex’ is miles better than anything Max Cavalera has done in years.
A concept album based on A Clockwork Orange, there are layers here that will take an exciting age to explore, but the music works brilliantly without any research at all. ‘Moloko Mesto’ is a barnstorming beginning that shows off Green’s fearsome bark and new drummer Jean Dolabella’s slick skills, ‘Filthy Rot’ combines a trademark tribal vibe with chugging, charging riffs and a gang vocal chant that is really compelling, almost hypnotic, and if tunes like ‘Strike’ and first single ‘We’ve Lost You’ employ a satisfying mid-tempo rumble, then ‘What I Do!’ and ‘Enough Said’ speed up to incorporate elements of punk rock and, yep, classic thrash metal.
Not that today’s Sepultura waste any time looking backwards though. This is all utterly contemporary stuff. And with the dark, epic centrepiece of ‘Sadistic Values’, a metal reimagining of Beethoven on ‘Ludwig Van’, and several smart, moody interludes, the band really stretch their minds and their music into brave new areas. Dark, dominant, and wonderfully familiar, but inventive and refreshing too, this is a phenomenal record from a band on fine form. Forget your ‘Roots’, find your new favourite metal band (again).