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Sepultura
A-Lex
February 2009
Released: 2009, SPV Records
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland

It’s been a bumpy road for Sepultura since the departure of vocalist Max Cavalera back in 1997. The ensuing albums—AGAINST, NATION, ROORBACK and DANTE XXI—have sharply divided fans with a greater influence of hardcore and tribal elements trickling into the music than metal itself. Derrick Green seems to bear the brunt of the criticism, too, as his hardcore-style bellow is far removed from the inimitable roar that Cavalera possessed. Still, while Green may not be everyone’s cup of tea, the aforementioned albums, despite their occasionally directionless and long-winded attempts at keeping the Sepultura name alive and well, have possessed a few fleeting moments of genuinely likeable material.



But when drummer Igor Cavalera unexpectedly left the fold immediately following the release of 2006’s DANTE XXI, many argued that with no Cavaleras in the band, there could be no Sepultura, either. In fairness, it was guitarist Andreas Kisser who became the dominant songwriter of the band’s post-ROOTS material but the Cavalera brothers were certainly a tangible component of the band.



With A-LEX, Sepultura’s eleventh studio album, the band wades into non-Cavalera waters for the first time. Thematically, Sepultura chose to follow-up the conceptual DANTE XXI with yet another concept album, this time focusing on Anthony Burgess’s 1962 novel (and subsequent 1971 Stanley Kubrick-helmed film), A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. A-LEX (Latin meaning “no law”) is the name of the title character from the book/movie and anyone who has basked in either version knows all too well that the character of Alex and his “droogs” embody reckless disregard for legal or social norms.



Admittedly, it took quite a few listens for A-LEX to stick and really take hold. In fact, I hated it for the first two or three spins. This is a “grower,” for sure, and those who turned their backs on Sepultura with 1996’s ROOTS probably won’t find much here to bring them back, either, as the hardcore leanings and downtuned riffs are clearly here to stay. Jean Dolabella’s drum sound is massive, though, and for those who thought the loss of Igor Cavalera was the final nail in the coffin for this band will be proven wrong immediately. Whether tackling a second concept in a row is a good idea or not remains to be seen but along with DANTE XXI, A-LEX is the strongest material from Sepultura since 1993’s CHAOS A.D..



“Moloko Mesto” may very well be the fastest track Sepultura has done in years. Thrash doesn’t get much better than this and with Derrick Green’s hardcore bellow steering the ship and Andreas Kisser laying down a shredding solo, critics of Sepultura will be hard-pressed to find fault here. Similarly, “Paradox” and “Enough Said” feature blazing guitar leads that serve as pit-pleasing romps. At the other end of the scale, “We’ve Lost You!” bounces along on a slow groove with a mellow acoustic guitar intro. “Sadistic Values” showcases the many vocal styles of Green and the militaristic drumming of Dolabella helps create one of the album’s heaviest tracks. It is noteworthy, too, that bassist Paulo Pinto Jr., who has been notably absent over the past few years, returns with a vengeance, laying down some thick, rubbery basslines on “The Experiment” and “Strike.”



All is not well, though, with A-LEX. “Filthy Rot” leans a bit too close to the ROOTS era with a huge tribal vibe and the nu-metal leaning “Conform” is chock full of downtuned, chugging guitars (yep, that intro riff has Korn written all over it) that are a real turn-off. Likewise, the instrumental “Ludwig Van” comes off as something Trans-Siberian Orchestra might be able to pull off but this is definitely not territory that Sepultura should be wading into. Conceptually, it fits the album but it really is out of place with the overall sound presented here. In the bigger picture, A-LEX approaches an hour’s length and is splayed out over eighteen tracks. The four “A-Lex” interludes that separate the record, again, work conceptually but don’t do the cohesiveness of the record any favors and could be omitted and not be missed.



When Sepultura first announced they were planning to tackle A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (one of my favorite films), I was very excited. While DANTE XXI had its moments of brazen metal gusto, the whole idea of being able to associate myself with a 600-year old epic Italian poem fell a bit flat, so having a contemporary and familiar concept to work with is definitely a bonus. Sepultura has jumped into things here with both feet and they certainly manage to succeed in translating A CLOCKWORK ORANGE to music. The (not-so-new) direction taken by Sepultura will surely continue to rankle many who cry for the reunion that seems to get further and further away with each passing year, but A-LEX finds the band firing on all cylinders and crafting its best record since the departure of Max Cavalera.



KILLER KUTS: “Moloko Mesto,” “We’ve Lost You!,” “What I Do!,” “The Treatment,” “Sadistic Values,” “Forceful Behavior,” “Enough Said,” “Paradox”
Track Listing

1. A-Lex I (Instrumental)
2. Moloko Mesto
3. Filthy Rot
4. We've Lost You!
5. What I Do!
6. A-Lex II (Instrumental)
7. The Treatment
8. Metamorphosis
9. Sadistic Values
10. Forceful Behavior
11. Conform
12. A-Lex III (Instrumental)
13. The Experiment
14. Strike
15. Enough Said
16. Ludwig Van (Instrumental)
17. A-Lex IV (Instrumental)
18. Paradox

Lineup

Derrick Green—Vocals
Andreas Kisser—Guitar
Paulo Pinto Jr.—Bass
Jean Dolabella—Drums


Next review: » Sepultura - A-Lex
Previous review: » Septycal Gorge - Scourge of the Formless Breed

Sepultura
A-Lex
February 2009
Released: 2009, SPV/Steamhammer Records
Rating: 4.0/5
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz

Let’s get this out of the way – It’s been over ten years since Max Cavalera walked away from Sepultura, and it’s unlikely that he’ll be returning to the fold anytime soon. It’s time to move on and accept Derrick Green as the voice of Sepultura. The band has released some great material with Green at the helm, but no matter how good those records might have been, they always seem to get lost in Max’s charismatic shadow. I’ve always given the Sep’s credit for continuously trying to grow as a band rather than continue to ape the whole ROOTS thing one more time (Jumpdafuckup Max!). The band returns in 2009 with A-LEX, Sepultura’s 11th studio album, the 5th to feature Green on vocals, and the 1st to feature new drummer Jean Dolabella (replacing longtime drummer Igor Cavalera).



A concept album based on “A Clockwork Orange”, I was admittedly skeptical of what the results would sound like. The band took a huge leap on 2006’s DANTE XXI, a concept album based on the literary classic “Dante’s Inferno”. I was concerned about the creative juices of the band being in danger by following up a concept album based on a famous book with another concept album based on another famous book. After spending several listens with A-LEX, any doubts that I may have had about the band’s relevance or creativity in 2009 have been thankfully dissuaded. A-LEX is broken up into 4 acts (A-LEX I-IV) and retells Anthony Burgess’s 1962 story of Alex (the central character in the novel), the Ultra-Violence, government mind control, and the question of freedom. Pretty heady material for the band to tackle in the form of a rock opera, but whether or not you’re familiar with the book or movie won’t make or break your enjoyment of A-LEX.



“Moloko Mesto” opens the disc in full throttle Sepultura tradition, but it’s the following tracks “Filthy Rot”, “We’ve Lost You” and “What I Do” that are true standouts. The Treatment” will start your head whipping uncontrollably and is one of the heaviest tracks on the album. “Metamorphosis” and “Sadistic Values” are a-typical Sepultura, featuring clean vocals and a slower tempo to emphasize Alex’s precarious situation. “Forceful Behavior” kicks back in at full speed, with some of the best riffs the band has delivered since ARISE. “The Experiment”, “The Strike” and “Enough Said” are all pretty respectable thrashers, building up to “Ludwig Van.” Beethoven’s compositions are a key part of the Clockwork Orange storyline, and the track is a collection of those compositions guided by Andreas Kisser’s guitar work. ‘A-Lex IV” is an intentionally off key interlude that cedes to the closing track, “Paradox,” my personal favorite on the album. Summarizing the collective intensity of the whole album, “Paradox” is full of thick riffs and angry vocals that will punch you in the head for 2 minutes before leaving you to contemplate what just happened.



A-LEX will take you several listens to fully appreciate, but it is by far the band’s best release so far to feature Green and is the freshest that the band has sounded in years. The songwriting and overall performance is on par with their classics and even the album cover is reminiscent of BENEATH THE REMAINS. Regardless of what you think about the current incarnation of Sepultura versus the classic line up, A-LEX is one of the first must listen releases of 2009. This is a great addition to the Sepultura catalog and a great addition to your music collection.
Track Listing

1.A-Lex I
2.Moloko Mesto
3.Filthy Rot
4.We′ve Lost You
5.What I Do!
6.A-Lex II
7.The Treatment
8.Metamorphosis
9.Sadistic Values
10.Forceful Behavior
11.Conform
12.A-Lex III
13.The Experiment
14.Strike
15.Enough Said
16.Ludwig Van
17.A-Lex IV
18.Paradox

Lineup

Derrick Green – Vocals
Andreas Kisser – Guitar
Paulo Jr. – Bass
Jean Dolabella – Drums


Next review: » Sepultura - A-Lex
Previous review: » Septycal Gorge - Scourge of the Formless Breed

Sepultura
A-Lex
March 2009
Released: 2009, SPV
Rating: 3.0/5
Reviewer: Mr. Rock

Brazilian thrashers Sepultura are back with their 11th disc, and first disc sans Cavalera. Are Sepultura the same band since the departure of the Cavalera brothers (Max left in ’97, Iggor left in ’06)? No, of course not. They could never be. That doesn’t mean however that Sepultura 2009 is irrelevant, cause they are not. This is a pretty solid band with a good energy from new drummer Dollabella, and a band that can still kick your ass at times. For the most part, A-LEX proves this point.



This new disc is based on the novel / film “A Clockwork Orange”, with the title A-LEX (which is also Russian for lawless) coming from the main character in the story. Now, never having read the book, nor seen the movie, the review is based entirely on the music, and not on the storyline.



This album might take a bit to get used to, but after a lot of listens, I find that if I cancel out the filler (and there is a bit too much of it) what’s left is a solid, thrashy disc with a lot of grit.



Cut into 4 sections, with each section beginning with a rather annoying instrumental, the storyline is fairly easy to follow, though I couldn’t tell you how faithful it is to the book/movie. What is obvious though, is that the intros (“A-Lex I” through “A-Lex IV”) only slow the pace of the album and actually hinder the listening experience rather than enhance it. Why on earth would a thrash band want to stop the action to let the listener catch their breath?? I dunno, but for me, it just doesn’t make sense.



Starting with the fast “Moloko Mesto”, Sepultura start rolling full steam ahead, and the first half of the disc is very cool that way. “We’ve Lost You!” and “The Treatment” are pounding, and I really like “What I Do”, though the slow-ish, and long “Sadistic Values” seems out of place here. Again, it only seems to slow the pace.



As good as the first half is, the second half really loses steam. “Enough Said” and “Ludwig Van”, combined with the instrumental intro, really negatively effect the overall punch of the disc. If these pieces were gone, a more compact A-LEX would be a great disc. Too much filler, and too many occasions where the disc loses steam. Sepultura was on a very good path with A-LEX, and I enjoy the first half of the disc. So for me, I just deleted the filler on my iPod, and just let ‘em kick my ass.
Track Listing

1. “A-lex I” - 1:54
2. “Moloko Mesto” - 2:09
3. “Filthy Rot” - 2:46
4. “We've Lost You!” - 4:14
5. “What I Do!” - 2:01
6. “A-lex II” - 2:18
7. “The Treatment” - 3:23
8. “Metamorphosis” - 3:01
9. “Sadistic Values” - 6:50
10. “Forceful Behavior” - 2:27
11. “Conform” - 1:54
12. “A-lex III” - 2:03
13. “The Experiment” - 3:28
14. “Strike” - 3:40
15. “Enough Said” - 1:36
16. “Ludwig Van” - 5:30
17. “Alex IV” - 2:46
18. “Paradox” - 2:15

Lineup

Andreas Kisser – guitars
Derrick Green – vocals
Paulo Jr. – bass
Jean Dollabella – drums


Next review: » Sepultura - Against
Previous review: » Septycal Gorge - Scourge of the Formless Breed





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