Did you like Roorback? Did you hate Nation? Did you care for Against? Was Roots an abomination?
Regardless of what you answer on these questions, a new Sepultura album always deserves a chance. Sepultura have the strong tendency to evolve within the areas of heavy music. From their death metal beginnings, soon adopting a thrash sound, on to experiencing with more hardcore and some groove, on the edge of nu-metal with Roots, swaying away from that to an underground fusion of metal and hardcore on Against to more experiments with Nation. Shorter, more simple and heavier on Roorback. So what's the next step taken?
I don't like to compare Sepultura's albums to each other because it's virtually impossible due to the difference in genres throughout their career. But if I have to describe Dante XXI in terms of previous Sepultura albums I say this: Take a basis of Chaos AD, add some of the best elements of Nation and Roorback to that, then add some thrash that falls somewhere in between 1991 and 1993: thrashier than Chaos AD, but not really like Arise. When you're thinking that we have a nice mixture here... also add some total fresh new elements - horns and strings on less than half of the songs.
After the intro, Sepultura kick into Dark Wood of Error, and one thing becomes clear: No compromise. In a Meshuggah-ish intro of palm-muted riffs and double-bass kicks it becomes clear that Sepultura are not going to hold back this time. The clear and raw production is a true danger to your ears and the whole album sounds way heavier than Roorback or Nation. After almost two third of the song Dark Wood of Error kicks into some pure thrash. Raging vocals by Derrick Green, who once again expanded his versatilty, sounding different on almost every song, adapting his aggressive (and sometime more or less melodic) roar to the atmosphere of every song. No clean vocals on this disc except for some background vocals to enhance the atmoshpere of darkness.
Next up is Convicted in Life wich is an ideal song to be played live, reminding me of Slave New World when I hear the main riff accompanied by the typical Igor drum pattern. But it doesn't stay there, it goes way faster than anything on Chaos AD (except Biotech, but hey, that's hardcore, not thrash) and after the first two songs we can conclude that Andreas rediscovered the palm-muting technique again.
City of Dis feautures this palm-muted riff with the enormous double-bass under it that reminds of Propaganda. False has this kind of punk-thrash vibe before kicking in to an omnious slow, palm-muted riff accompanied by some dissonant strings. Awesome.
Fighting On begins with a soft intro.. of a few seconds, then a huge and heavy (doomy perhaps) riff enters, and it is clear that Sepultura mean business. No time to rest - we keep fighting on. Literally.
A second intro, this time of classic instuments starts as we enter Purgatory (Yes, we just travelled through Hell, ask your ears), and once Ostia kicks in, you will know that this will be an epic song of unsurpassed magnitude. A great riff by Andreas, while Derrick roars "The Skies Are Open Before Me! The Crowd Of Souls In Sudden Flight!" What an epic. What a heavyness, what a lyrics, what a song. After a middle part of now and then an chord strummed by Andreas, some cellos and a piano (?), the volumes rise again, the main riffs kicks in while Derrick screams "Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeell!". You know that this is how it's supossed to be done.
Buried Words doesn't let down, especially the chorus, with Derricks rasping (is that a word?) vocals. Another highlight on the album of highlights is Nuclear Seven. A great atmosphere is created by Andreas' riffing and Derricks melodic roars doubled by some very low vocals.
repeating the Horror sees Derrick in the end peforming alone with the drums, he screams at the top of his lungs, higher than we're used to, wich creates an eerie atmposphere that perfectly transmits the title 'Repeating the Horror', not intended to be liked by your ears.
Crown and Miter is a fast song, with Derrick showing his versatality by perfectly adapting his voice to the type of song.
As the last song we have Still Flame, wich is an experiment. Probably not liked by everybody, but hey, it's the last song, let them. Imagine a crossing between Sepultura and Massive Attack, and you got it. Some beats accompanied by the guitar, and in the end also some strings, building it up to an epic end where Derrick roars the song title along before the track suddenly ends at its high point. A perfect show intro as far as I'm concerned. I imagine this as the intro tape, and as it ends Sepultura kick into Dark Wood of Error/Convicted in Life.
Andreas does some kickass leads, rediscoveres palm-muting and churns loads of kickass riffs. Igor holds back on the flashy drumming a bit and gives us some more straight-forward thrash drumming with a lot of double bass throughout the album. Paulo as always puts some accents here and there. And Derrick really shines here. Staying within the boundaries of screaming/roaring he uses a great variety of different types of roars wich absolutely degrades the next metalcore Phil Anslemo or Max Cavalera wannabe to a pile of dust.
All in all..
A great album. Those who don't like Sepultura anymore since Arise or Chaos AD or Roots or Against or Nation or Roorback should all defenitaly try this one, because its once again fresh. More metal, more thrash, better solos, and a bit less simple than Roorback.
An amazing album by Sepultura - featuring some classics that are easily on par with any of the earlier classic songs.