Album Review: SEPULTURA Quadra
Sepultura have always had a secret weapon and his name is Andreas Kisser. The guitarist has never been the frontman or face of the group, but it’s his unique tribal approach to the thrash metal formula that has kept Sepultura interesting after all these years. 2017’s Machine Messiah showed off Andreas’ proggy side. Quadra dives right off the deep end with symphonics, huge production, and a bigger sound then Sepultura have ever attempted before. You read that right—symphonics. Sepultura have made their name in creativity and Quadra is no exception. If the choirs on the pre-release single “Last Time” weren’t enough of a hint, this is a side of Sepultura never heard before.
The new elements kick in right away on “Isolation." The song will make for a hell of an opener on the band’s next tour. The monolithic production compliments the song’s more savage bits, making them sound worthy of a band with Sepultura’s history. The best moment comes right in the middle. “Raging Void” is a song every Sepultura fan should already be checking out. It harkens back to their glory days on Roots, but also puts a new, almost Gojira-like spin on some older ideas. Drummer Eloy Casagrande was an amazing find for the group back in 2013. Here he delivers his best performance yet—a polyrhythmic attack that is both unpredictable and insanely catchy. It's not an easy trick to pull off. Combined with the monolithic sound of Andreas Kisser’s guitar, it’s a great track on an already fantastic record.
The strangest part is “Agony of Defeat.” You’d be forgiven for checking if you put on the right record when you hear Derrick Green croon in over a melody worthy of later Nightwish. We never expected this in a million years, but somehow, it works.
“Guardians of Earth” shows off Andreas Kisser’s long-running love affair with Swedish melodic metal to electrifying effect. You could swear it’s a long-lost In Flames or Dark Tranquility demo the way Andreas’ soars over the orchestra backing him up. Everything builds up to “Fear, Pain, Chaos, Suffering”, Quadra’s closing track, a culmination of all that makes this album different. Featuring a transcendent performance by Far From Alaska’s Emmily Barreto, it’s the song that will test fans' patience the most. Tasteful symphonic sections are one thing. This borders on leaving the thrash metal genre altogether.
Those old-school fans need not despair, however. Quadra also finds some time to go over the hits. “Capital Enslavement” sounds like a Chaos A.D. track and nobody does a primal vocal beatdown quite like Derrick Green. Diehard fans should also check out “Ali,” “Autem,” and “The Pentagram”—an instrumental track that shows off the musicianship that has made this lineup the greatest one since Max left the band. Don’t worry. They haven’t abandoned their Roots entirely. If there’s one criticism, it’s that the band chose “Means to an End” as a pre-release single. There’s nothing wrong with the song, but it’s nothing we haven’t heard from Sepultura before and recently.
Sepultura haven’t had anything to prove to anyone in quite a while. But on Quadra, they’ve found new purpose and a new sound, while still holding onto what made them great in the past. It’s an incredibly difficult maneuver and it deserves our respect. As if Sepultura ever needed any more of that…