For more than 30 years of existence Sepultura got through so many ups and downs it would have sufficed for dozen of bands. I’ll tell you more: another band would hardly survive from what happened to Sepultura in the end of 90s. But despite everything they did and continued to record rigid albums, create interesting conceptions and perform live. The last album Machine Messiah was released three years ago in 2017 and now the band is back with their new longplay Quadra.
Like a couple of last releases, Quadra also has its conception; not the strictly lyrical but rather a music one (although this concept is somehow presented in lyrics). Andreas Kisser tells about the album: “Quadra, among other meanings, is the Portuguese word for ‘sport court,’ that by definition is a ‘limited area of land, with regulatory demarcations, where according to a set of rules the game takes place.’ We all come from different Quadras. The countries, all nations with their borders and traditions; culture, religions, laws, education and a set of rules where life takes place. Our personalities, what we believe, how we live, how we build societies and relationships, all depends on these set of rules that we grew up with. Concepts of creation, gods, death and ethics. Money, we are enslaved by this concept. Who’s poor and who’s rich, that’s how we measure people and material goods. Regardless of your Quadra you need money to survive, the prime rule to play this game called life.”
In full compliance to the title, Quadra, roughly speaking is divided into four equal parts where each part is a sort of reference or even returning back to different band’s eras, with various genres and diverse sound. Also, each part or “triptych”, if you allow me, is a completed piece, so don’t be surprised if you’ll hear an intro closely to the album’s end.
The first part of Quadra is a fierce Thrash Metal that takes us back to Arise times. Speed and raw power, that’s what “Isolation”, “Means To An End” and “The Last Time” are. Derrick Green doesn’t sing but furiously spit out words in your ears. Kisser and Paulo Pinto tear you down with their frenetic, fast riffs. And Eloy Casagrande, the best Sepultura‘s attainment for last years, shows that he is able to do everything that Igor Cavalera did and much more: his abnormal speed, power with apparent simplicity aren’t cause anything but excitement. You know, if ancient Israelites had not only shofars (ram’s horns) but also Quadra, they could not only destroy the walls of Jericho, but also wipe out a couple of surrounding villages. At the same time in such frantic and seemingly simple music there is a place for some choirs and Andreas Kisser’s fantasy, who takes his solos to some Progressive Metal territory. Actually, there are lots of elements that fit together perfectly but their presence is a complete surprise and you listen to the song over and over again, thinking “Wait, what was it now? How did they do it?” Although, all these elements are interwoven masterfully and it doesn’t seems like a fussy bunch.
Next part is returning to Groove Metal and tribal melodies from Roots era. “Capital Enslavement” opens with Latino percussion and some tribe melody, which later picked up with guitars and drums. Here I want to mention Eloy’s playing one more time: he manages to insert some Latin-American tribal passages without losing the tempo and the fury. “Ali” starts as middle-tempo Groove Metal but soon increases speed to Death subsequently increasing and reducing the tempo several times. However, as befits to a good Groove Metal, there are lots of riffs that cause you an unconscious headbanging. “Raging Void” finishes this part of the album: Groove again, atmospheric chorus and many little things in guitars and drums which make you not to be mistaken: this is Sepultura in all their best!
The second half of the album is much more various and full of experiments. If in the first part there were only some touches of Symphonic or Progressive, the band use them fully in this one, however without losing its aggression and brutality. Percussion with acoustic guitar in “Guardians Of Earth” intro combined with choirs sound like we’re going back to 1993. But when it starts to seem that it will be “Kaiowas” pt. 2, Derrick comes to the song and drives this idea away with his ferocious roar. Here we got tough guitar riffs and mighty drumming but also there are lots of Prog-elements, symphony and some dramatic, as it may sounds weird. I dare say that “Guardians Of Earth” with its structure and arrangement somehow reminds Machine Head from early 2010s, who also tried to mix the Groove and Thrash with classic music instruments. The real pearl of the album is “The Pentagram”, instrumental track where there is a place for every member to shine (except Derrick, of course). Constant changes of pace and mood; frenetic and vehement Thrash Metal switched with deeper and thoughtful Progressive, Kisser’s solos diversity and all of these made with markedly Sepultura‘s signature. Anyway, it’s one of the deepest pieces in the album, which worse to listen to it not once or twice. Well, the next one “Autem” would fit more to the first part of the album: frenetic and brutal song with catchy chorus where already Derrick uses different vocal techniques, showing all what he’s got.
The last “triptych” starts with a short intro “Quadra”: it’s a dark flamenco, atmospheric and quite escalating. Next “Agony Of Defeat” intro sounds more like some space movie soundtrack and then something outstanding starts to happen with the song. Derrick goes from clean vocal to his signature roar and back, synths are taking the song somewhere to Oriental motives, guitar also plays some “kebab-riff” and in the background of this you can hear the mighty female choir one more time. Nevertheless, the band comes back to their signature sound in chorus with some Groove Metal but before that you just sit, listen to the music and don’t understand what’s happen. Remember I told in the beginning of this review that Quadra is full of elements that fit together perfectly but their presence is a complete surprise? So, “Agony Of Defeat” exemplifies it in the best way. The album ends with one more multi-composed track “Fear; Pain; Chaos; Suffering”, which shows all these conditions through the music. Actually, here the band got too much excited with experiments and sacrificed a heaviness a little bit. Female vocal in the song is also unexpected thing. But it can’t be said that this song isn’t interesting or isn’t metal. Rather it’s not Sepultura with some touches of Progressive Metal but exact the opposite.
Quadra is incredibly diverse, meticulously thoughtful and very interesting work. I dare to say that with this album Sepultura took the definition of “diverse” to a whole new level. But in any case, grizzled veterans proved one more time that they not only haven’t forgotten their Thrash/Groove roots but they ready and able to move forward, experimenting with sound and merge things that impossible to merge.
Quadra was released On February, seventh via Nuclear Blast Records. You can order album here – https://amzn.to/2SaXE3L
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