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Sepultura, A-Lex

Steamhammer / SPV - January 27, 2009

by Mithila Umanga

Sepultura, A-LexThe absence of the Cavalera brothers has influenced many to make a pre-assumption of A-Lex as a bad album - it honestly isn't. I think the world needs to realize a lot of bands still make good music even without the so-called classic lineups, and given everything Sepultura has contributed to metal they are definitely one of them. Even though I wouldn't name A-Lex as one, if I were to name a classic Sepultura album, it is still a damn good album. It might not have the signature Sepultura edge from the Max Cavalera-era or the Cavaleras-era for that matter, or the lack of memorable riffs from a lot of previous Sepultura work, which might suggest a sense of a rushed album. But the obvious Phil Anselmo-esque elements in Green's singing and the ever-present groove-metal edge of the band's music will make this an entertaining album for the groove metal fan.

The back to back production of two concept albums suggests a more album-oriented metal direction for Sepultura. Well, the band has always produced presumably long albums for a band in their respective thrash/death/groove wing, but the album structures of A-Lex, and their 2006 Dante-XXI, definitely have a very AOR element in them. Some of the transitions from one song to another, for instance "A-Lex I" to "Molko Mesto" and then to "Filthy Rot," definitely shout out album oriented metal if nothing else.

"Molko Mesto" captures the thrash and death metal elements in close context as Sepultura have always done, but at the same time it suggests the lack of creative riffary which will continue throughout the album. "Filthy Rot" gives this a bit of a breaker though- a very Sepultura-esque intro that leads to a catchy riff that is very mosh-friendly making the track arguably the highlight of the album. It is one of those tracks that you can definitely mosh to but at the same time leaves you confused because you can dance Salsa to it too. It doesn't contain super technical wizardry in individual departments, but as a whole it is a track with a lot weight in it that'll sink deep and leave you comparing every other track in the album to it.

"A-Lex ii" and "A-Lex iii" work pretty well as the monotone breakers - much needed for a concept album of this shape where there's nothing musically magical -- this will keep the listener absorbed. They have the slight noise and doom elements that Sepultura always mess around with, even without most fans realizing it.

"The Treatment" is more of a fast track, but as before nothing exceptionally memorable is given to the listener from this track either. "Metamorphosis" breaks it down to a slow tempo, doomy state again - which I think is a good thing. This is because I believe even the most mature metal-heads are somewhat reluctant in embracing concept-albums. They don't seem to realize that it is a whole different ball game and you can't analyze them like you would have with Reign in Blood or Altars of madness. Anyhow "Sadistic Values," which follows "Metamorphosis," keeps it smooth flowing. But again, this track too gives you that rushed smell. Former Max roadie-Andreas Kisser does some good guitar work, but the ability to come with something memorable as early Sepultura prevails throughout the album. "Forceful Behavior" doesn't change this very much either.

On a different note, Jean Dolabella, the new skinsman, does justice to his job in every way possible. He exclusively shows off some of his skills in "Conform," but when you are trying to replace someone like Iggor Cavalera who is considered as one of the best drummers of our generation by some, fans might ask for something more. "Ludwig Van," based on some works of the man himself, is thoroughly enjoyable which is followed by "A-Lex iv," somewhat different than the previous ones. "Paradox" is a good closer but not good enough for a lengthy one like A-Lex.

The thing about A-Lex is, if you are going to listen this album expecting to hear something like Arise, Chaos A.D. or Roots, you will not like it. First off, this is a concept album - you are missing the point, and secondly, no matter how hard I tried to not think about it and be unbiased, none of the Cavaleras are in the band anymore and those familiar Sepultura days are long gone. New times, new sounds - so move on with it or don't listen to it at all.


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