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Sepultura | Dante XXI | review | metal | Lollipop


Dante XXI (SPV)
by Martin Popoff

I've never liked numeral-laden album titles, but past that untidiness, Sepultura turn in what is probably their coolest album of the under-rated Derrick Green years. And heck, after rafts of shouty metalcore and death vocalists, my toughened sensibilities are finding more humanity in Green's roar than I used to notice, something that dragged down the early Green-era records for me, versus the Max factor. So Green is a little more entertaining, sure, but the main plus here is the fact that the songs are dry, all-business, bee-lined for mosh sector XXI, a concrete and rebar-strewn landscape achieved. Not sure if it's the lush climes of Renaissance Italy, more like a Mad Max dust and desertscape, Igor's percussion brittle and snapped, the songs flat and long on horizon-view. This is metal with a hardcore/punk churn to it that creates a vibe that is both old school and very Seps rhythmically. Andreas is a distinct part of the sound as well, and you can hear where Dime got some of his dissonance. What's more, the ear candy bits are some of the most interesting of the band's career, and less forced because this is a soundtrack album of sorts (but shockingly short at 39 minutes). Strings are haunting ("Still Flame" goes there, adding chill-out percussion and chants), and most pertinently, fanfare brass recalls avant garde black metal and fascism. Ha! I'm kind of glad the interlude bits don't sound like Blackmore's Night, monks, or the theme to Godfather, but their ill fit is a little weird all the same. But they're interesting, and when the guys get down to the song, it's harsh, bleak, but catchy, often fast, but also grindingly groovy and even Sabbatherian. I sure as hell don't feel a lot of Dante's Divine Comedy spilling out of this, but part of the vision was to draw a parallel to today, and the hell of poverty, and that is most definitely there in the parched, powder-kegged, (southeast Asian, Brazilian, eastern bloc) hardcore urgency of the thing.


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