Sepultura, ‘The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be the Heart’ – Album Review
Every time Brazil’s Sepultura release a new album, there is a buzz of curiosity with fans wondering if they will return to their beginnings. The band’s trademark thrash era produced some of the finest albums of the genre, but they abandoned the sound by 1993 in favor of groove on ‘Chaos A.D.’ and the polarizing ‘Roots.’ Vocalist Derrick Green has been with the band for 15 years now, and ‘The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be the Heart’ is his seventh and best album since joining.
The Derrick Green era has come under heavy criticism from Sepultura fans with many fans pining for Max Cavalera’s return. Max is busy with Soulfly, who sound even further from the classic era of Sepultura and a reunion would most likely not take Sepultura’s sound back to those days. What ‘The Mediator’ brings is an album with character and conviction; something the band has been missing for quite some time. It takes elements from all aspects of their career and producer Ross Robinson, who produced ‘Roots,’ is back at the helm to harness the energy.
‘Trauma of War’ gets things going and is unapologetically chaotic, setting the tone for the rest of the album. After a mood-killing minute and a half of a keyboard choir, ‘The Vatican’ brings things back with a riff similar to something off ‘Chaos A.D.’ and is one of the highlights of the album. A mere two songs in and 22-year-old drummer Eloy Casagrande is leaving an impression on his first album with Sepultura, executing tight fills and displaying his creativity. His drums sound a little too clean for the production, but the clarity is necessary when cutting through the ultra-downtuned wall of mud distortion employed by Andreas Kisser and Paulo Jr.
Other uptempo songs like ‘Manipulation of Tragedy, ‘The Age of the Atheist,’ and the Dave Lombardo guest track ‘Obsessed,’ all sound like Sepultura have finally broken free from a creative leash that has let them explore the rest of their sonic territory. The thrash moments are more generic than genuine, sometimes sounding like turntable scratches from the tuning of the guitars, but work well when reminiscent groove riffs break up the pace. The mosh parts set up the more midtempo rhythmic heavyweights ‘Impending Doom’ and ‘The Bliss of Ignorants.’ Considering that ‘The Mediator’ is a concept album about the 1927 film ‘Metropolis,’ this undoubtedly works to reflect moods of the movie as the lyrics portray the events and themes.
‘The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be the Heart’ is Sepultura’s best album since ‘Chaos A.D.’ (depending on which side of the fence you stand on regarding ‘Roots’) and they owe it to Ross Robinson for bringing out the aggression of the music here. There is a direct connection between the sound and the primitive looking album art as the band connect on all fronts with this one. Fans who abandoned Sepultura after ‘Chaos A.D.’ or ‘Roots’ may want to check back in with Brazil’s most lauded metal export.