[8.5/10] Although Sepultura’s first couple of releases following the departure of Max Cavalera (1998’s Against and 2001’s Nation) were strong efforts in their own right, it wasn’t until 2003’s Roorback that the band finally managed to redefine their sound and direction into something that could stand on the strength of its own inspired creation, and allow the band to step aside from the long shadow of the band’s critically acclaimed earlier efforts.
Building on that premise, Dante XXI (2006) saw the band deliver an album that was as experimental as it was inspired, and unquestionably justified the continued existence of Derrick Green fronted line-up. Given the strength of Dante XXI, and the parting of ways with drummer Igor Cavalera from the lineup, it wasn’t all that surprising to discover that despite some really strong moments, A-Lex (2009) wasn’t quite the killer follow-up release fans were expecting from the band.
After tackling heavy conceptual themes on both Dante XXI and A-Lex, Sepultura have decided to take a step back and reverted to a back-to-basics approach of writing individual songs with their 12th full-length, Kairos.. While there is a general theme within Kairos, the stripped-back approach the band have adopted on their latest effort has worked in their favor - giving the album a feel and vibe that earns its place as one of the stronger efforts from the Green-fronted era of band’s output.
Sepultura’s bare-bones approach is more than evident on opening track “Spectrum.” Andreas Kisser’s riffing may be simplistic, but there’s a rhythm and relentless groove to it that works exceedingly well, and sits perfectly with Green’s primal bellowing vocal presence and the combined rhythm backbone of Paulo Jr. and John Dolabella.
“Kairos” sees things turned up a notch with plenty of aggression being added on the guitar front and the breakdown in the middle where Dolabella really gets to take center stage with a brief middle eastern-sounding interlude, while the appropriately titled “Relentless” brings forth a touch of thrash to the band’s groove metal-based sound, and Green pushing his vocals into regions rarely ventured into with considerable success.
Green adds a real menacing touch with his spoken work efforts in the biting and tribal/percussive driven “Dialog,” while his hardcore bark on the frantic paced “Mask” is another real standout.
Other outstanding efforts worthy of a special mention include the driving “Born Strong”, the speeding/death metal-like “No One Will Stand” (which boasts a brief but shredding solo from Kisser), the groove based “Point Of No Return” and the industrialised experimentation of “Structure Violence (Azzes).”
On the flipside, both “Seethe” and “Embrace the Storm” seem to pale against the strength of the other tracks on the album. And lastly, there’s the cover of Ministry’s “Just One Fix” and The Prodigy’s “Firestarter,” both which are interesting and well done, they really don’t add anything to the album given the strength of the band’s own material.
The post-Max Cavalera era Sepultura has weathered much throughout the years, with some of their albums reflecting the turmoil and struggle to find an identity of their own. But despite missing the mark at times, it’s clear that Sepultura have once again been inspired to greatness, and delivered it with a vengeance on Kairos.
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