"The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be The Heart"

By Dr. Abner Mality

With an awkward album title and a subdued looking cover, I'm afraid that the latest Sepultura may not get the attention it deserves.  I would like to see it get some success. The band has been wandering in the wilderness for a long time, but their creativity is ceaseless...they've come out with new albums like clockwork. Not only that, but they are unafraid to tackle huge issues and concepts with their current work. That's something I can't say about their "stepbrother" band, Soulfly, who are content to keep dishing out primitive simple tunes with no more thought than a fist to the face.

It's not easy to review "Mediator...". The album is thrashy, raw, and very heavy, but also quite varied and experimental. And despite that, there's still something remote about the Derrick Green Sepultura that keeps me from diving into it with headfirst abandon, like I did with "Beneath the Remains" and "Chaos A.D.". It's hard to put into words, but there is some vital element that is still missing. Despite that, I think "Mediator..." has a lot to offer fans of very aggressive, caustic music.

The lengthy title is a quote from the silent SF classic "Metropolis" and this release is a concept album that revolves around that great movie. That puts it in the company of other Green-era conceptual releases like "Dante XII" and "A-Lex". It is way better than the latter and on an equal footing with the former, a grossly underrated record.
It begins with a monstrous thrashing blast in "Trauma of War", with Green unleashing his most ferocious vocals ever. New drummer Eloy Casagrande is a real find and I don't miss Igor much at all. He injects some of that Latin/Brazillian flavor into tunes such as "Manipulation of Tragedy" and "The Bliss of Ignorance". I hope they can hang on to this dude because he is a keeper.

Producer Ross Robinson, infamous for being a "nu-metal" guy who helmed the last Max Cavalera LP "Roots", returns on "Mediator..." The production jobs are not that similar. "Mediator..." has a very dry, raw and harsh sound that fits the material. There are times when I wish Paulo's bass had more of the "Roots" sound. The Brazillian undercurrent on each album is noticeable, but on "Mediator...", it's harnessed to something fiercer and thrashier. "Trauma of War", "Manipulation of Tragedy" and "Obsessed" are by far the fastest songs since "Chaos A.D." The album epic "The Vatican" contains out and out blast beats, but also doomy, moody moments and some great usage of choirs and bells. With the song "Grief", Sepultura experiments with a slow, sorrowful ballad...the first part quiet and full of sadness, the second part much heavier but still somber. This is the kind of experimentation you don't hear from Soulfly.

One track that just didn't do anything for me was "Tsunami" just sounds too much like the blander groove metal from the most faceless parts of the Green years. The album ending cover "Da Lama Ao Caos" ,originally done by a popular Brazillian music band, has those tropical influences on acquired taste, to be sure. Throughout the album, Andreas Kisser pulls off some of the weirdest, noisiest, most "industrial" sounding guitar solos of his career. Alas, still nothing like the beautiful neo-classical death metal he did on "Schizophrenia" and "Beneath the Remains".

"The Mediator..." is a strong album that I'm sure the anti-Sepultura crowd will ignore. It's their loss. I also don't think they will reach the heights of "Beneath the Remains" and "Chaos A.D." again, but it sure is interesting to see them try. Listen to this with an open mind.