The Lowdown: In a career spanning more than three decades, Sepultura remain a unique voice among their thrash contemporaries. The Brazilian act’s blend of thrash, groove, and death metal has allowed them to craft unique records that rip with eccentric ferocity. From their iconic 1996 LP Roots to their intriguing concept records with vocalist Derrick Green, Sepultura have striven to infuse aggressive playing with compelling insight.
The band’s 15th studio album, Quadra, presents a collection of songs that capture an array of Sepultura sounds and styles. While some compositions don’t stand out as prominently compared to others, the LP still displays the band’s creative drive.
The Good: Comprised of 12 tracks, Quadra is broken into four parts: the first captures the band’s iconic thrash sound; the second embraces the stylization of past efforts like Roots; the third takes inspiration from the song “Iceberg Dances” off of their last LP Machine Messiah (though this part is not entirely instrumental); and the fourth part leans more into slower, melodic tracks. With instrumental similarities appearing throughout the album, the majority of these aforementioned sections bring a welcome breath of fresh air into the record’s progression. In particular, the latter portion of Quadra makes for a distinctively different presentation compared to the record’s beginning and middle section, allowing for a whole new sense of appeal.
A key point from beginning to end, Andreas Kisser’s guitar work is incredible. He is truly one of the strongest components to the album as a whole. From the wicked whiplash found on “Isolation”, to the riveting picking and rhythms on “Guardians of Earth”, Kisser brings life to each cut. The drumming is also impressive, with Eloy Casagrande laying a ferocious delivery of slams in such cuts like “Ali”. Meanwhile, “The Pentagram” sees Kisser, Casagrande, and bassist Paulo Jr. unleash a brilliant blend of instrumentation, exuding electric atmosphere and madness. Green’s vocals bring a nice touch of grit to each cut, especially in the songs that center around thrash and death metal.
“Autem”, “Agony of Defeat”, and “Fear, Pain, Chaos, and Suffering” (the latter featuring Emmily Barreto of Far from Alaska), all make for strong cuts to end the album — each offering an exciting new sense of theatrically.
The Bad: While not a tremendous sore thumb, the record’s second section comes across more as an extension to its first section. Given the unique shifts taken on later in Quadra, it would have been more interesting to hear Sepultura present a different shift in style here, rather than play to a slightly different tone of aggression.
The Verdict: Overall, it is commendable to hear Sepultura explore and present a mix of variety throughout Quadra. Besides the midsection with its drawn-out thrash elements, Quadra has its fair share of exhilarating compositions. As a whole, the band provides top notch technical intrigue, utilizing enough style to keep the majority of tracks engaging. Quadra is a strong release from these Brazillian metal titans and a release that Sepultura fans will enjoy.
Essential Tracks: “Isolation”, “The Pentagram”, “Agony of Defeat”