Birmingham, Alabama, September 2, 2043 — HEY LOSER, CAN’T YOU READ! Get your twerp ass the heck of that compulawn! Read the display, Jupiter jerkoff…there’s a “no stip-step” electronotice floating by the front sentry robot! IT SAYS GO AWAY YOU JACKED-UP SPACE IMBECILE!
Oh…it’s you, Phil L. Well, what brings you to grandpa’s retirement cube on this hot-ass Sept. 2, 2033? You don’t want Fed Creds, do ya? I ain’t got none. Spent my last Fed on that sweetass Godzilla costume over there. Gonna go swimming off the coast of Japan next Lunar Summer in it. Scare them fruits back to the 20th century. HA! That’ll show them!
You don’t want no money? Well what is it, have you got girl problems? Came over to get some advice from the retirement cube Casanova? The ladies here love your grandpa, boy. Can barely keep my diaper on! Don’t laugh, I mean it! Did grandpa ever tell you about his wild-ass night in Tijuana? Heh…sweet as synthi-pie, I tell you! Must have been 1995, we were headed out to see a…
Oh, what’s that, grandson? You want to know about the olden heavy metal days? Sepultura?!?! You say it’s been 50 years since the release of ‘Chaos A.D.’? Well, damn, who knew 50 years could fly by so fast? It seems like just yesterday I was hanging out in my grandparent’s basement in East Lake. You know, over where the Intergalactic racetrack is now? Damn place is deserted as all get out, I know. Damn fool Larry Langford’s illegitimate grandson built that dump with the Shuttlesworth Lunar Space Port tax money. Still don’t see no dang space port, do ya? I didn’t think so. I’ll tell you, ain’t nobody made one Fed Cred off that damn racetrack since it opened, I’ll guarantee.
Damn, got sidetracked again. Okay, back to that roach-infested East Lake basement. Yep, I had slid the clicker cable box over to Mtv. It was a Saturday night, and I always waited impatiently for damned Headbanger’s Ball to begin. Yeah, the first hour of the Ball was usually just hair bands. You know the drill – luscious hair, perfect make-up, super-tight pants and shameful, hidden erections. I never ever changed the channel, though. I watched patiently just in case they slipped in an occasional Metallica or Anthrax video.
Looking back, I guess that was the first place I saw them four young, morbid, hairy dudes from Brazil. Unbeknownst to me, I had been seeing their damned blade logo all over band dude’s t-shirts for a year or two. Their two albums released in Brazil had created quite an underground buzz, I guess, but young grandpa Phil, sweating his ass off in damned old Birmingham, had no idea Sepultura even existed.
In the late 1980s, finding decent new metal bands was a chore and a half, believe me. Magazines, friends and Mtv. Hell, that was all we had! Thankfully, when that third album, ‘Beneath the Remains,’ was released through a U.S. record label, Mtv paid some damn attention. Still amazed by that bit.
You ever hear of a cassette tape? It was a square rectangle what played music, and dang if ‘Beneath the Remains’ wasn’t the hottest trading commodity in 9th grade English class. HA! I remember Sepultura’s “metalhead in the know” nickname was Slayer Jr. I ain’t thought about that in years!
While the followup ‘Arise’ wasn’t quite as dark, the songs and overall feel of the album was all lean and mean speed. Nasty, uncommercial album, damn it was. Them underground fans that knew Sepultura loved ‘Arise,’ yet others outside the scene didn’t have a notion the album even existed. But there weren’t no missing that next album.
Them four fellas went and got a deal with Epic Records and asked old Andy Wallace to produce the new record. Get out Scott Burns, hell yeah! I always hated his treble-loving ass. Them four boys from Brazil surprised music fans inside and outside the metal world with ‘Chaos A.D.’ Hey, pull that damn album up on ObamaTunes. Turning up my ear-nodes now to give it a good listen.
To these old, hairy ears, the main difference can really be summed up in one word: groove. The band that seemed so obsessed with speed had morphed, downshifted and called upon some fine tribal influences. Opening tracks ‘Refuse/Resist’ and ‘Territory’ are perfect examples. Though they both include bursts of speed, the main riffs are a study in patience, boy. A damn one-two punch that kicked us old-ass fuddies in the chest. Damn that’s still heavy today. Stupid heavy. Dumb heavy. Damn, hand grandpa them nitro pills, son.
‘Slave New World’ has the feel of the band’s earlier stuff, but those busy drum breakdowns littered through the track were something unique at the time. Slow and deliberate, packed with some crushing sections, ‘Amen’ may be the heaviest thrash “slow-down” track ever committed to tape. The band jumps between song sections with ease. And this song is h-e-a-v-y, son. Heavy!
But damn, how did they follow up that molten hot shit? They went acoustic, damn howdy! Actually, I’m thinking the acoustic guitars are a distraction here. The real star is old Igor Cavalera’s drumming. The guitars play simple and straight while Igor goes to town on a stripped-down drum set. Less drum virtuosity, more rapid beating heart, this return to nature song was the talk of my metal friend group. So soft, so unmetal, yet so damn good. No song had caused this much metal debate since Anthrax went rap, what a time that was!
Yep, ‘Propaganda’ is all rolling riff. Again, Igor destroys that drum set. Half speed monster, half jungle disco, his performance on this whole album is amazing. This track’s breakdown riff should have sent bands around the globe back to the writing room, but it probably didn’t. ‘Biotech Is Godzilla’ is one minute and 52 seconds of simplistic punk speed. Yet, ‘Nomad’ is another slow-burn. Mid-paced and almost five minutes long, here percussion turns a one-note verse riff into an album highlight. By the time Igor cranks up the double bass drums mid-track, the band is on an impressive swing. They even throw in a dual guitar solo for good measure. Damn, boy! Grandpa’s ears are getting horny! ‘We Who Are Not As Others’ is pretty much a one-sentence drone track, and something of an interlude. It’s probably as close to filler as ‘Chaos A.D.’ gets.
Them last three songs…god dang it. ‘Manifest’ is all pissed-off politics and pushy punk. Accusations against police are spoken over a somewhat simplistic track. Sepultura were evidently hitting all home runs when it came to riff writing, and this track ain’t too shabby. Some bounce, some speed…all heavy, heavy, heavy. ‘The Hunt,’ a cover song originally by New Model Army, has a more pop structure. The lyrics speak on violence and revenge. I got no idea about the original version because I’m a lazy, uneducated Alabama hick, but the four-minute track here comes off nice. That said, it’s probably damn near the second worst track on the album. Closer ‘Clenched Fist’…shit, need I say more. What a song title, what an image…communication clear as a bell. Based on a repetitive guitar screech and a drum fill, this track moves slow but also includes bursts of speed. The closing actually evokes the loping nature of the song ‘Black Sabbath’ before a section of lasting feedback. Junior, after four albums of treble speed and sharpness, to have the band’s latest album end this way was quite a surprise.
Heck no I didn’t get to see this tour live. I had a buddy that saw Sepultura with Ministry and Fudge Tunnel around this time. Damn, still jealous about that one. They also toured on a bill with Napalm Death, Sick of it All and Sacred Reich, too. I didn’t see them until the ‘Roots’ tour with crazy-ass Ozzy, but that was damn good enough for me.
Aw, sonny. Thank you for reminding this shriveling old brain about that album. You ain’t gonna find nothing finer than ‘Chaos A.D.,’ except for widow Gentry’s sweaty sweater lumps. I may play this album for her later tonight. She told me once she was a bus floozy for Papa Roach back in the late 90s. Damn terrible band, but I love them widows with loose bloomers and looser morals! Dang, there’s the dinner tone. Stick around and meet her if you’d like. We’re having goat paste and copper bread…my favorites. What…heading out? Well listen. Next time you visit, bring grandpa some Space MILO’S. I haven’t had any of their electrostatic-tea or sprinkled-sizzle french frizzlers in months. Ignorant doctor is worried about my ticker or some damn fool mess. Fraggin’ idiot! Well, good to see you, son. Tell your dad I need a few extra Fed Creds next month. I got a couple dates, and I can’t play cheap. Adios, son! Sign-o-nara! Don’t let the monorail door hit ya, where the good lord split ya! Peace out!
EDITOR’S NOTE: Phil (or Metal Phil as we call him sometimes) is our longtime ringer and one of the first writers to join us when BHAMFM started all those years ago. He is a writer from Birmingham, has a funny looking dog, a hot wife & a real writing job that pays the bills. Living the dream.