There is a school of thought that suggests Sepultura ceased to be after founding member Max Cavalera left the fold at the end of 1996. And there are those who say that Sepultura definitely ceased to be when his younger brother Igor quit the drumstool in 2006. There are even some who say that Arise – released way back in 1991 – was the last album worthy of being released under the name. If you believe any of these then latest album Kairos doesn’t really stand much of a chance, does it?
Fortunately the band, in its current incarnation of guitarist Andreas Kisser, bassist Paulo Jr., vocalist Derrick Greene and relatively new drummer Jean Dolabella, have put aside the conceptual noodlings of their previous two albums and decided to focus again on writing fully formed songs, and not just songs but – and wait for it – kick-ass metal songs. Don’t believe it? Try listening to the opening double-whammy of ‘Spectrum’ and the brutal title track, forged from the same furnace as Beneath the Remains or Arise. Still not convinced? How about the old-school thrash attack of ‘Relentless’ or the Obituary-esque ‘Born Strong’, complete with heavy low-end grooves and “We are what we are” war-cry.
Credit must go to Jean Dolabella, who certainly leaves his stamp over all the album’s 15 tracks. Replacing a powerhouse drummer as iconic and inventive as Igor Cavalera was never going to be easy but the relentless way in which Dolabella attacks his kit throughout is truly remarkable. Also Andreas Kisser’s guitars fill out all the spaces that the drums don’t, making the guitar more dominant than it has been on recent releases. Let us not forget that when Max Cavalera left, the band lost not only their singer but also their rhythm guitarist, but Kisser fills both roles more than adequately.
Elsewhere, singer Derrick Greene pulls no punches with his extraordinary delivery ranging from creepy spoken word (‘Dialog’), through hardcore snarls (‘Mask’), and into death metal territory (‘No One Will Stand’), giving his best performance since 2001′s excellent Nation album.
So are there any bad points to this album? For me, nothing really. There IS a slight dip in the middle with tracks like ‘Seethe’ and their cover of Ministry’s ‘Just One Fix’ not quite kicking to the gut as much as the other tracks, and the 30 second interludes don’t really serve any purpose other than to separate out the barrages of noise that sit either side of them, but otherwise this is great stuff from a band who seemed to have pulled themselves back from the brink of mediocrity in the nick of time.