Brazil's Sepultura has gone through a number of mutations since first arriving on the international scene 12 years ago. Proto-death-metal releases such as Morbid Visions and Beneath the Remains cast the band as one of the few that could hold a candle to early Slayer in terms of primitive brutality. Arise, a more refined thrash session, was pivotal. It brought Sepultura unprecedented commercial success and bridged the gap between the group's early days and the post-Chaos A.D. nu-metal barrage that followed.
The band introduced traditional Brazilian instrumentation to the mix in 1996 and reached its commercial peak that year with Roots. The tour in support of that CD, however, brought to a head long-festering resentments between vocalist Max Cavalera, wife/manager Gloria and the rest of the group, including drumming brother Igor. The Roots tour spelled doom for Sepultura's original lineup.
The current disc, Nation, is the band's second with new vocalist Derrick Green and the first that Sepultura has recorded in Brazil since 1989's Beneath the Remains. Green, an American, spent much of the past two years in São Paulo writing the album with his bandmates. Green even brushed up on his Portuguese, and the blend of cultures is much in evidence.
While the first recording with Green (Against) clearly drew inspiration from his Midwestern roots, Nation is a more varied affair, blending hardcore stylings with Brazilian flavors and haunting atmospherics. The band even recorded a cover of Bauhaus's "Bela Lugosi's Dead" during the Nation sessions, but it failed to make the final cut. There is, however, an instrumental piece titled "Valtio" ("union" in Finnish), which features the Metallica-inspired Finnish cello quartet Apocalyptica, as well as the song "Politricks," co-written and vocalized by Jello Biafra.
Such trimmings likely will be discarded in a live setting, although "Human Cause," with its vocal trade-offs with opening act Hatebreed's Jamey Jasta, could be duplicated. Shorn of guest stars, though, Sepultura likely will rely on its stock-in-trade: the blunt, rhythmic rumble that has been its staple, regardless of the subgenre du jour. Green, a truly imposing physical presence, has only added to the stark directness of the band's delivery.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.