Released: 2017, Nucelar Blast
Reviewer: Helias Papadopoulos
Let me first start by saying that I WAS a massive Sepultura fan from long ago. Like Metallica, Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath, Sepultura was one of the first bands which got me into heavy metal and they’ll forever hold a special place in my music collection for changing my life all those years ago. Sepultura have already celebrated 30 years of activity in extreme metal. They are among the patriarchs of thrash metal and one of the biggest names in metal. This is a success story my friends!
It mustn’t be easy for Andreas Kisser, Paulo Jr. and Derrick Green to deal with the hard and cruel negativity they receive since Max Cavalera left the band. Also, it would have been even more difficult and burdensome when they lost and Igor Cavalera from their friends. After 8 studio albums and 20 years, everyone who listens to Sepultura insists on looking back and waiting to see when the original line-up reunite. Max isn't what's missing οn a Sepulture album anymore.
I have to admit that I am not a Derrick Green fan, BUT in 2017 Derrick is far better than Max who became fat, unwieldy and cumbersome. Despite the weaker calibre of albums post ROOTS, both AGAINST, NATION and possibly ROORBACK still contained some weight and packed a punch, while DANTE XXI and A-LEX were decent at best and really failed to make a huge impression. Some positives though, there were still plenty of gems to be found scattered throughout those 5 releases. The best of those include: “Choke”, “Against”, “Sepulnation”, “Border Wars”, “Come Back Alive”, “Mind War”, “Convicted in Life”, “Buried Words”, “What I Do” and “Conform”. So then it became a big surprise to me when I was able to listen to any single Sepultura album since KAIROS. There’s something different about those Sepultura albums was the first sensation I got from the single. Eager to get my hands on the new albums to hear the entire disc, my first reactions were right. Since KAIROS, each one is, indeed, different than the last few albums, there’s a spark, a burning flame that I haven’t felt in a Sepultura album in nearly 10 years. All the above conclude in one single phrase: Sepultura put a stepping stone back to the right direction.
As far as the album concerns, I would like to express my own estimation; the end product of Sepultura's back-to-basics approach since KAIROS and especially in MACHINE MESSIAH was not a material worthy of an inclusion in any year-end lists, but nonetheless showcases a solid songwriting chops and tight musicianship. Here, the band dropped the nu-metal/groove metal vibe and refrained from flirting with classical or ethnic arrangements with heavy and thrashy tunes. Songwriting is consistent at a relatively high standard, and they are focused on keeping songs to-the-point - no segments or riffs overstay its welcome. I honestly cannot think of a single song that felt like it had extra baggage, so a big congrats to the band for keeping the album lean!
But Sepultura is not really Sepultura without some sort of experimentation e.g. the clean vocals of Derrick in the titile track’s intro and the dark ones in 5:04 of The exhilarating and sometimes brutal "Sworn Oath" which is fantastic. In addition, if you listen to “Cyber God”, our mind will break loose from the greatness of how Derrick uses his vocals. I wish to have more clean examples by Derrick as I don’t like the flatty and dimensional growls for too much time. I would like him to vary his singing style with clean infusions (I don’t mean in nu-metal way!). You want extreme and heavy/thrash songs? You’ ve got “Vandal’s Nest”, “I Am the Enemy” and “Phantom Self”. If you are fan of Sepultura, then you are certainly fan of instrumental songs. So, "Iceberg Dances" is your terrific feed, is when "Machine Messiah" becomes a work of art and exemplum of how to create extreme music. Listen up for some jazzy fusions prior to the tribal clapping and a special flamenco section in the middle of the song. A member of the band now for five years, Eloy Casagrande has only grown stronger behind the kit. His job is great and exceptional. Paulo Jr. is the silent steady stone behind the songs and you are going to be blown by the extremely good playing (listen to the tremendous “Resistant Parasites”.
Overall, "Machine Messiah" is adventurous, heavy, fresh and very hopeful for a band that is active for 30 years, as the old dogs cannot be taught new tricks.