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Schizophrenia

 

Sepultura

1987

My first introduction to Sepultura was their awesome cover of Motorhead's "Orgasmatron".  I was probably 11 or 12 at the time, and it was essentially the first death-metal song I had ever heard, so suffice to say it made an impression on me.  It wasn't really my thing at the time, but a couple of years later, I developed an interest in discovering who that band was.  Upon finding out it was Sepultura, I figured I'd start at the beginning of their catalog and subsequently bought Morbid Visions/Bestial Devastation, which turned out to be a poor choice.  To this day, I still think it's one of the worst albums ever recorded, laughably bad really, and it nearly turned me off of Sepultura completely as a youth.  But I knew they had "that one song" (which actually took me a few more years to re-discover), so I took another shot with their most recent album at the time: Blood-Rooted.  I instantly fell in love with that record, and proceeded to make the rather simplistic connection of:

New/90s Sepultura = good

Old/80s Sepultura = horrendous

That misplaced bias led me to avoid this album (Schizophrenia) until literally last year, as I assumed it was in the same category of shittiness as Morbid Visions, but much to my surprise, this album is actually pretty damn good.  Sure, it's pretty raw and the production isn't particularly great, but I personally find this album almost as enjoyable as Arise, and maybe even a tad more-so than Beneath The Remains (although I always thought that album was slightly overrated, but I digress).  The opening track "From the Past Comes the Storms" is death-thrash ear-candy, and the next two songs "To The Wall" and their first minor classic "Escape To The Void" are a lot of fun as well.  There's even a borderline-impressive instrumental here called "Inquisition Symphony", which kind of sounds like a primitive version of Metallica's more epic instrumentals of the era.

And while the rest of the album doesn't quite live up to the first half, it's not bad really.  For me, this album has more punch and energy to it than Beneath The Remains.  It's like a less polished, rawer version of Arise to these ears, being that it's a bit more up-tempo than Beneath The Remains, etc.  

Basically, I've always erroneously said Beneath The Remains is the place to start if you're new to Sepultura, but in actuality, Schizophrenia is the place to start.  In fact, depending on the day, this might be better than Beneath The Remains, but, to each their own.  All I know is if you're a fan of groove-laden, thrashy death-metal, it's pretty hard to go wrong with Sepultura's first legitimately good album: Schizophrenia.

8.0

 

Beneath The Remains

Sepultura

1989

This is the album where Sepultura actually got listenable.  Morbid Visions/Schizophrenia were just flat out terrible for the most part, but not only is Beneath The Remains not terrible, but it's actually pretty good overall.  While it's not in the same league as their classic 90s albums to come, it's a giant leap forward for the band.  It's still mostly death-metal throughout, but they actually take a breath to actually create a groove and rhythm in these songs.  The production value isn't great, and a lot of the music still has kind of a primitive sound to it, but the first couple of songs turned out to be one of their classics.  After that, it's just slightly above average thrashy death-metal the rest of the way.  Not bad at all, but again, not in the same league as Arise, Chaos AD, etc.  If you're looking to dig into Sepultura's catalog, start with Schizophrenia, then move onto this.  It only gets better from here.

7.9

Arise

Cover with various life-like forms.

Sepultura

1991

This is easily one of the best death/thrash-metal albums of all-time.  Sepultura really came into their own here.  Beneath the Remains was OK, but the band finally realized their full potential as a thrashy death-metal band on Arise.  Mind you, there's nothing particularly amazing going on here, but Sepultura will get you head banging and moshing like few bands can.  It's all about the rhythm and the riffs, and they have those in spades on Arise.  It's a seriously kick ass thrash-metal album, with death-metal overtones and a subtle hardcore-punk flair to boot.  A classic in the genre.

8.3

Chaos AD

Sepultura

1993

This album is a stylistic departure from Arise, but it's an evolution in the band's sound that proved to be hugely influential in the alt-metal genre.  This album is not as thrashy as Arise, but it is a heavier affair.  Sepultura slow things down a fair amount, and deliver a bottom-heavy, mid-tempo assault that pounds the listener into submission.  The groove and rhythm is emphasized to the max on Chaos AD, and the results are earth-shatteringly heavy.  Helping to add to the onslaught is Max's vocals, which are even more pissed off than before.  By slowing things down here, the band accentuates their heaviness, and it's truly awesome to behold.  They also explore more of their tribal sound here, incorporating that aspect into a couple of songs, which really enhances the variety of the music and adds a sense of atmosphere.  So whereas Arise is a thrashier album, is arguably more "fun", an album to headbang to, Chaos AD is an album to beat someone to a bloody pulp to.  It's mean, it's aggressive, and it is brutal at times.  Probably Sepultura's best album.

8.5

Roots

Sepultura

1996

Is there such a thing as being too tribal, or being too pissed off?  If so, those are the main flaws of Roots, but there's no denying this one of the most unique metal recordings of the 90s.  It's somewhat sloppier than Chaos AD, and at times lacks the focused and propulsive attack of that album, instead favoring brute, grating force, and distortion/feedback over definitive hooks/riffs.  This album is no doubt influenced by Korn's sound, as Ross Robinson produced this album...that's good and bad.  Ultimately it is not as good as their prior 2 albums, but it is definitely an evolution of their sound, and again, one of the most unique metal recordings of the 90s.

8.0

Against

Sepultura

1998

The departure of Max Cavalera dealt a serious blow to Sepultura, losing not only their lead-singer, but essentially the main creative force behind the band.  New singer Derrick Green isn't bad, but nobody could ever replace the blood-curdling rage and intensity that Max brought to the table.  To make matters worse, the band kind of devolves into unimaginative, straight-forward thrash on this album, rarely stopping to incorporate memorable grooves or hooks into their jams.  So it just sounds like the floor on the accelerator most of this album, and Sepultura could do a helluva lot better than that, even with a new singer.  When they try to experiment (which is rare), it just sounds forced and doesn't really work.  Overall, pretty disappointing, and simply not in the same league as anything that came before it.

7.1

Nation

Sepultura

2001

Mountains more integrity/merit than anything Soulfly had released to date, and a significant improvement from Against.  Doesn't match the intensity or the groove of some of Sepultura's best work, and there's really no songs that can hold a candle to any of their classics, but it's a genuine evolution in the band's sound, in a progressive direction, which makes for an intriguing listen.  This is probably the best you're going to get for Derrick Green era-Sepultura…

7.8

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