Sepultura are back in 2020 with a brand new album on Nuclear Blast Records. Quadra will be their 15th studio album in their over 35-year career. There is only one surviving member of the band who was with them when they recorded the first album back in 1986. That being bassist Paulo Jnr ( full name being Paulo Xisto Pinto Jnr) however guitarist Andreas Kisser joined in time for the second album in ’87. Singer Derrick Green joined in 1998 and the new boy is drummer Eloy Casagrande who came to the band in 2011. This is the third album with this line up suggesting they have found a steady combination that works for them as a group.
About The Album – Meanings:
According to the press release, Andreas has said that they were “possessed by the number 4” whilst making the album so they have made it as of 4 parts. Like a double vinyl of old. Each side represents a different aspect of the musical styles they perform. The word “Quadra” is translated from Portuguese as “sport court”, meaning the limited area of land with clear demarcations where according to rules the sport takes place.
Quadra shows different aspects of the band as stated and is evidence of a band still growing and branching out whilst not losing the essence of what they are about, what they stand for and the musical style that fans grew to love about them. It is brutally heavy in places but they do show plenty of progressive leanings on this.
Side 1: Pure Raw Thrash:
The opening 3 songs are almost “pure raw thrash” but still manage to have some subtlety that shows off their skill as writers and arrangers as well as musicians. “Isolation” opens with a drum repeating followed by some synth and a few ominous-sounding chords, a choir and finally into a bone-crushing riff with lyrics about being incarcerated. The guitar solo has a Jeff Waters of Annihilator vibe about it being quite jazzy.
The lyrics are spat out to great effect as they are on all the heaviest tracks on the album. Derrick’s vocal on “Means To An End” are so well growled at times it is almost frightening. The final of the first quarter “Last Time” is my favourite in this group. From its guitar solo opening, through its massive riff and beyond, this is so tight it had my jaw on the floor! The drumming from Eloy is some of the best I have heard in ages, his timing is impeccable and his versatility of the scale. The clever mix of choir or drums around the guitar work is excellent and makes it sound very sinister at points.
Side 2: Rhythms And Percussion Ala “Roots”:
Very quickly you hear the difference in parts when “Capital Enslavement” starts. Right away there is tribal style drumming and chanting. Obviously it heavies up but it certainly grooves and is more mid-tempo with some frantic sections. The vocals are manic and include some menacing laughter. This is seriously good stuff. “Ali” has a different style of vocal on it, I thought of either Faith No More or Dog Fashion Disco at their oddest. The bass is well upfront on this. It goes very industrial at one point near the end, so much so it reminded me of the machine gun effect of “Thieves” by Ministry. “Raging Void” has a great chorus and some ridiculous drumming. His rolls and fills are exquisite. On this performance when drummer of the year comes around he must surely be among the top candidates.
Side 3: Experimental:
“Guardians Of Earth” kicks off part 3 with classical acoustic guitar work with some deft touches on the drum kit that doesn’t overshadow the guitar playing. Once again a choir is used adding a little flavour to the track. Then it kicks in! The guitar break is quite Celtic in feel, almost Thin Lizzy(ish) before going more into a classical vibe. The mix of hard thrash and other elements is superb.
The construction of these songs is as good as anybody in the business. They then do something which blows me away every time I play it. An instrumental called “The Pentagram”. It is blinding! Clever, inventive, thrashy yet with plenty off-kilter rhythms to keep the listener on their toes. The band has created a full prog metal workout. Due to its quirkiness and the way they play around with the themes it is almost a heavier “Main Monkey Business” from Rush. That is the highest accolade I can give. It is outstanding! “Autem” doesn’t quite reach the heights after that. It is by no means a bad track. There are moments of experimentation, for instance, it goes quite Eastern in the guitar solos. The drop-down section again has some fine drumming going on.
Side 4: Melodies And Acoustic Vibes:
The final 3 songs start off with the short (less than a minute) title track. It is a sweet little classical acoustic guitar track. “Agony Of Defeat” has Derrick singing in a different style than normal. The throaty almost smoky style is a touch Tom Waits although not all the way through. It is slower and features orchestration to tremendous effect along with the choir at points. Once again there are some Eastern stylings in the guitar solo. It is hypnotic and brave. Still Sepultura of course but one that shows no fear when it comes to risk-taking and being truly progressive in nature.
That bravery and experimentation continue in the last song which features female vocals as well. “Fear, Pain, Chaos, Suffering” starts out like a horror movie soundtrack and in part is a duet assisted by a choir at points. The harsh vocals of Derrick match the lyrics he spits out. A very dark but powerful ending to a marvellous album.
This is a mighty fine piece of work, heavy as you would expect or hope for from a Sepultura album but also branching out, taking chances. Not to put too fine a point on it, even this early in the year, this has the look and sound of an album of the year. It is THAT impressive. Fantastic stuff!
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