Wednesday, January 19, 1994

Sepultura: Chaos AD

"Megadeth mouth catchy but unconvincing slogans about peace and the environment. Metallica seem to have given up social/political comment with their latest album... Sepultura have kept their music and lyrics focused well on the brutality of Third World life."


Chaos A.D.
Sepultura
Roadrunner Records


It sounds like the herald proclaiming the end of the world. Perhaps even more than in their previous album Arise, Sepultura have made a record of utter desolation and anger.

They draw inspiration from their homeland, Brazil, and the same desolation and anger there. Musically the album sits somewhere near extreme thrash metal and hardcore punk. It has the heavy guitars and guttural vocals typical of these styles. Sepultura have slowed down. Their sound is more ominous and heavy, and their eerie melodies feature more prominently.

Stand-out tracks include the acoustic instrumental, ``Kaiowas''. This song, inspired by a Brazilian rainforest tribe who ``committed mass suicide in protest against the government which was trying to take away their land and beliefs'', demonstrates both thrash and Latin American folk influences. They cover a song by New Model Army, which fits in well. The CD has a bonus track, ``Policia'', which is quite different, sounding more like an old punk song than their usual material, but nevertheless it's an excellent song. As are all of them.

It's interesting to compare Sepultura to other successful thrash metal bands. Megadeth mouth catchy but unconvincing slogans about peace and the environment. Metallica seem to have given up social/political comment with their latest album. Both bands could hardly be classed as thrash, having apparently sacrificed the aggressive thrash they were famous for in favour of commercial success.

Slayer have not become less heavy, but prefer to deal with topics like the occult, serial killers and war from an apolitical standpoint.

Sepultura have kept their music and lyrics focused well on the brutality of Third World life. In fact, they have become more political, not less.

Lyrically, they seem to deal with two main themes. The first is oppression, with songs like ``Slave New World'', ``Propaganda'', ``Kaiwas'' and ``Manifest''. ``Manifest'' features a voice detailing the massacre of more than 100 inmates of Carandiru, the biggest penitentiary complex in South America, by Sao Paulo police. Many of the songs talk about the native Americans, for example, Nomad: ``The ancient teachings failed ... My beliefs have no more tales.'' The song ``Biotech is Godzilla'', with lyrics by punk legend Jello Biafra, talks more explicitly about things like the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, Third World poverty and the corporations that cause it.

The other theme running through the album is anger, massive world-shaking anger. ``Tanks on the streets/ Confronting police/ Bleeding the plebs/ Raging crowd/ Burning cars/ Bloodshed starts ...''. Maybe they could have included more informative bits in the album. The lyrics are often convoluted and cryptic, more atmospheric and emotive than informative, which is typical of most thrash bands. The balance between emotion and information is good enough overall.

Lyrically and musically, Chaos A.D. heralds the rise of the Third World against misery and devastation: a Third World posse (as Sepultura's last world tour was called). ``Don't tell me I don't know/ You don't live in my war/ Revolt and anger/ I won't take it any more.''

From Green Left Weekly issue #127, 19 January 1994.

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