Sepultura is a band that far too many people gave up on, far too quickly. They may not be the huge name they once were, but that in no way diminishes the quality of their musical output, and yes I think we can all agree there have been some missteps along the way… but there have been equally as many missed or overlooked gems as well.
One thing that is for sure with Sepultura is that they are not afraid to try their hand at new things, whether it’s concept albums about Dante’s The Divine Comedy or A Clockwork Orange; covering the Prodigy and Ministry, performing with other musicians or other genres. Even reuniting with producer Ross Robinson, there is apparently no limit to what they are willing to try.
Machine Messiah is their 14th studio album, in a career that has spanned well over 30 years, and it could easily be considered one of their best. This is a dark sounding record. It starts somewhat somberly, with a mostly clean sung opener, that snakes it way out of the speakers and into your ears, very occasionally punctuated with that trademark bark of frontman of Derrick Green. It is indeed an interesting way to the start the album, choosing to ease the listener in slowly, rather than beat them over the head from the get go. It doesn’t last long though, as from that point forward it’s all systems go. Make no mistake about it, this is a heavy thrash record through and through.
There are some interesting choices made here though, amongst all of the brutality, a song like ‘Sworn Oath’ for example, that features some interesting almost Ghost like orchestration to it, adding a little extra atmosphere to proceedings. You also have ‘Vandal’s Nest’ which has some Mastodon – Esque moments sprinkled throughout. It’s the moments like these that add something into the mix that gives a little extra flavour. It’s interesting to note that the world music influence that Sepultura have so often flirted with over the years is entirely stripped away here.
The other thing worth noting, is that not only does Derrick Green turn in a diverse and colossal vocal performance that is up there with some of the best work he has ever done, but the actual musicianship on this album is pretty and extremely hard hitting, Andreas Kisser particularly appears to have upped his game, (not that he was a slouch to begin with), but there are inspired riffs and face melting solo’s galore. On top of that there is also a wonderful bounce to the drums that really drives each individual song home. This is an all round solid outing from all concerned, and one they should all be proud of.
This a dark doom laden, semi-progressive thrash album made by a band that many had written off, but it’s a record that proves even after 30 years that Sepultura is a band that shouldn’t be discarded, or seen as an afterthought, and one that still has plenty of mileage left in the tank.