Release Date: June 24, 2011
In an effort to get away from the whole Sepultura is not Sepultura without the Cavalera brothers, I have renamed the band, Sepultura A.C. Let’s see if it sticks. Because indeed, the historic groundbreaking Sepultura has been halved. In its place we have three dynamic extreme metal bands. So for those who can’t get over Sepultura after Cavalera, there’s no point reading further anyway, and I suggest cuddling up with Beneath The Remains, Arise and Chaos A.D. and pretending the last two decades never transpired. For the rest of us, we move back to the future.
Sepultura A.C. has seen mixed results over its last several records, but the previous effort with new drummer Jean Dolabella, 2009’s conceptual A-Lex, showed the band is still inspired. That inspiration continues on their 12th studio release, Kairo.
The band’s first act of genius with this album was snagging producer Roy Z (Judas Priest, Yngwie Malmsteen, Bruce Dickinson, Halford). Their second strong decision was breaking away from the full on conceptual elements of their last two efforts and focusing more on the raw and punishing brutality that is the core of Sepultura‘s sound. That’s not to say there isn’t a thread of concept on this record. On Kairos the band is focused on time and the ideal of the supreme moment. Kairos in Greek means “the right or opportune moment.”
Perhaps with Kairos, Sepultura A.C. has found that supreme moment, at least sonically. Guitarist Andreas Kisser has written some of his most powerful songs here. To say nothing of his diabolical guitar playing. The album features 15 new tracks, including a cover of Ministry’s “Just One Fix”, and four tracks named after ‘year’s’: “2011”, “1433”, “5772” and “4648”, all of which are half minute interludes.
The album opener, “Spectrum” harks back to the early years of the Sepultura sound. And in fact the entire album has a more pared back, straight forward, face-ripping feel to it. The title track is both intricate and pulverizing, with a sick little Psycho-esque breakdown. Meanwhile “Relentless” is, well, a relentless old school thrash barrage.
“2011” and Ministry’s “Just One Fix” separate us from the intriguing albeit menacing “Dialog”. On this one we get some chilling spoken word from vocalist Derrick Green, along with his predatory growling.
This leads us to the sonic rampage of “Mask”, where all four members of the band quite simply become unhinged. This is another example of the in-your-face aggression the band brought to bear on Kairos.
On the chest thumping, “Born Strong” the guys bring the kitchen sink of all that makes Sepultura a metal household name, including Paulo’s grooving bottom end which truly shines in grinding fashion on “Embrace The Storm”. For a full throttle death metal onslaught crank up “No One Will Stand”.
Throughout Kairos Kisser’s fretwork is, as always, guitar God worthy, while Paulo Jr. maintains an impenetrable bottom. Certainly no one is going to confuse new drummer Dolabella with his predecessor. Igor Cavalera is an innovative and legendary madman among skinsters. Still, Dolabella brings his own crushing abilities to the war, and makes a strong statement. Arguably vocalist Derrick Green, who has long bellowed and growled in the shadows of Max Cavalera, has finally left his mark with Kairos. If this album doesn’t earn him his due respect from the old diehards, then it may never happen.
In fairness, Kairos does have some weaker moments. At times Paulo’s bass gets a little lost in the mix. Neither the Ministry cover or the Prodigy cover (“Firestarter”, on the deluxe edition) is truly necessary, and while good, they do not elevate the album’s value. The 30 second, dated snippits don’t really add to the record, but they can be forgiven for what the album does bring.
With Kairos, Sepultura (A.C.) remind us they are still lethal, still hungry, and still hostile. They have reached back into the past and revisited a sound and style they helped create, and brought it to life with fresh brutality.
To the naysayers, I say get over yourselves. This is not about redemption, but faith.