Sepultura – “Metal Messiah” (Nuclear Blast)
It’s been 30 years since guitarist Andreas Kisser joined what has to date, remained Brazil’s greatest metal band – Sepultura. Despite the shock of founder Max Cavalera emotionally departing the band in 1997, later followed by his brother Igor, Andreas Kisser and low key bassist Paulo Jnr have weathered the storm(s), firstly recruiting Derrick Green and then a slew of drummers to claw their way back through a series of respectable comeback albums to be back at the top once more. Often overlooked for his contributions over the years, the ideas and influences of Kisser have become larger and harder to ignore, from his outside work in film composition and solo work to his culinary skills in “Hellbent for Cooking..”! The real impact came in Sepultura’s 10th album “Dante XXI”, a concept based on Dante Alighieri’s “The Divine Comedy” – not exactly a classic heavy metal influence! A fluke perhaps…? Probably not given the concepts of follow up albums like “A-Lex” (“A Clockwork Orange”), “Kairos” (time), “The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be the Heart” (“Metropolis” along with Kisser’s own experiences of living in San Paolo) and now right down to the cover of this 15th album by Camille Dela Rosa of “Deus Ex-Machina”. “Metal Messiah” is without doubt Sepultura’s most diverse album ever written. It’s not just a Brazilian thrash affair, but a heavy metal album that takes in doom, hard rock, symphonic aspects and Spanish classical guitar – and man, I am totally bowled over by the band’s (hidden) talent, not to mention their capability in pulling this off! Word has it that everyone, including Paulo Jnr and even Eloy Casagrande had a hand to play in this one, working their asses off in a true team effort. Well, it’s paid off big time! From the opening title track shocker that see’s Green crooning soulfully to Kisser’s ethereal guitar before crashing into monster power riffing mixed with doom warbling to the cini flick soundtrack contender of ‘Phantom Self’ that brings in exotic Zepp style eastern orchestrals and melds them with aggressive Sepu chopping riffs and Green’s hoarse drawls – very shaken-not-stirred indeed Mr Bond! “Iceberg Dances” opens with yet more rebounding Sepu riffs, propelled by Casagrande’s relentless power drumming, and as the virtuosity of Kisser’s fretboard work begins to dazzle with Deep Purple prog keys springs to mind, along with Brazilian beats and even classical guitar amid the fearsome power chords – it’s simply too much! Anyone fearful of change reaching for the valium at this point needn’t worry – prepare yourself for the manic thrash machine of ‘I Am The Enemy’ that brutally mixes thrash with hardcore that see’s all the valves open, and even when they slow it down on ‘Resistant Parasites’, the twisting dervish riffing, Casagrande’s Brazilian beats, dark orchestrals and Green’s tortured vocals really makes you feel the blighters are crawling all over you. Back in 1992, Kisser auditioned to fill in for James Hetfield on rhythm when the latter burned his hand and if you ever wondered what Metallica might’ve sounded like with Andreas Kisser chundering out the rhythm, then ‘Silent Violence’ will answer that! With the hyperspeed ‘Vandals Nest’ taking me right back to “Beneath The Remains” with its nihilistic Slayer riffing, the Brazilian metal machine is back to its best so bow down to the “Metal Messiah”!