The road to heavy music glory is littered with the shattered corpses of those that didn’t have the strength to complete the journey. But true masters always win through, and Sepultura have long since earned their status as legends of the metal world. In 2017, they return with more fire in their collective belly than ever before. Machine Messiah is coming…
Formed in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, in 1984, Sepultura swiftly became major players in the burgeoning thrash metal underground. With a sound that was as inventive and exuberant as it was raw and primitive, the band shattered preconceptions by planting South America firmly on the metal map, as early albums like “Morbid Visions”, “Schizophrenia” and “Beneath The Remains” helped to shape the sound of this new, brutal strain of heavy music. With a dogged devotion to touring anywhere and everywhere, Sepulturasteadily built up one of the most dedicated fan bases on the planet, and while the ‘90s caused many metal bands to struggle creatively and commercially, the Brazilians went from strength to strength: both 1993’s “Chaos AD” and its groundbreaking follow-up “Roots” in 1996 were instant classics and have since proved to be hugely influential on several generations of metal musicians.
The departure of frontman and founder member Max Cavalera in 1997 could easily have derailed a less focused outfit, but the recruitment of vocalist Derrick Green later that same year proved to be a masterstroke. The last two decades have seen Sepulturaevolve, diversify and thrive, releasing a steady succession of devastating records that have added great depth and diversity to the band’s illustrious catalogue. From the scattershot euphoria of Green’s first album “Against” in 1998 and the snarling groove barrage of 2003’s “Roorback” to the gleaming, riff-driven futurism of 2011’s “Kairos” and the Ross Robinson-produced mutant extremity of the widely acclaimed “The Mediator Between Head And Hands Must Be The Heart”, released in 2013, Sepultura’s progress has been perpetual and their artistic integrity impeccable. Ever more revered as a destructive and exhilarating live band, the current lineup of Derrick Green, guitarist Andreas Kisser, bassist Paulo Jr. and drummer Eloy Casagrande recently celebrated Sepultura’s 30thanniversary with an unrelenting world tour that confirmed beyond doubt that the Brazilian crew are on the form of their lives right now.
Fast-forward to 2017 and Sepultura are poised to release an album that promises to once again reaffirm the band’s status as standard bearers for heavy music. Recorded with esteemed producer and engineer Jens Bogren (Opeth/Kreator/Ihsahn/Paradise Lost) manning the controls, “Machine Messiah” is not just the band’s 14th studio album – a remarkable enough feat in itself – but it is also quite simply the most complete and absorbing album the band have made in the Derrick Green era. Thrillingly broad in musical scope but always firmly rooted in the spirit and fire of no-nonsense heavy metal, it is clearly an album that the band have crafted with great love, passion and determination.
“We worked a lot in Brazil, doing as much pre-production as we could, to make it as complete as possible,” Andreas Kisser explains. “So when the producer comes, he comes with his suggestions and ideas and we refine the songs and then finally record it all. Jens was an amazing addition to the project. He’s a great producer. He’s very attentive to the details. I’m very happy with the sound – Jens mixed the album as well, in Sweden. We had an amazing time over there. We’re very excited about this record and we can’t wait for the it to come out!”
Ranging from the stately menace of the slow-burning title track and the heads-down fury of classic thrasher “I Am The Enemy” to the esoteric percussive riot of “Phantom Self” and the monstrous dark metal behemoth of “Sworn Oath”, “Machine Messiah” strikes an exquisite balance between delivering the goods and veering joyously off-piste. An album of meticulously crafted songs, but also of jaw-dropping individual moments, it reaches an epic and invigorating crescendo with the glowering, nightmarish Cyber God, as one of Kisser’s finest ever solos spirals, soars and fades to black. A towering achievement and a bona fide team effort, Machine Messiah may just be the finest Sepultura album yet.
“There are lots of new elements on this record, and that’s something we always do,” says the guitarist. “We always put 100% energy and passion into it. We talk about everything a lot, especially when it comes to the lyrics and finding the best way to express what we want to say. Derrick did his best job on this record. His voice sounds amazing and he can really sing! He really took over the lyrical part this time, too. Everyone was really professional. Even Paulo worked on his bass arrangements at home by himself, which he’s never done before! That’s what we need in Sepultura. I think this is one of our best albums, because it’s a real band effort.”
Armed with their finest album in decades and itching to get back on the road to share their new music with the faithful, Sepulturahave never been in such a confident and content state of mind. “Machine Messiah” emerges into a troubled world, but its extraordinary contents are guaranteed to lift the spirits of any loyal metalhead. This is metal with a giant heart, a head full of inspiration and one foot planted squarely on the accelerator. The messiah is coming. Praise be!
“It’s a privilege to be in a band like Sepultura, 32 years into a career, and these are possibly the best times of all for us,” says Kisser. “It took a long time after Max left, we lost everything, so it took a while to rebuild everything and to find the right people to do stuff for us, but we’re in a good place now and we’re really excited about 2017. I love touring, man! We can’t wait to get back out there. Onstage is where the time stops and you lose your connection with reality and go somewhere else, and you have that exchange of energy with the crowd. It’s life – pure life.”