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3.04 | 56 ratings | 5 reviews
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Album · 1996


1. Roots Bloody Roots (3:32)
2. Attitude (4:15)
3. Cut-Throat (2:44)
4. Ratamahatta (4:30)
5. Breed Apart (4:01)
6. Straighthate (5:21)
7. Spit (2:46)
8. Lookaway (5:26)
9. Dusted (4:03)
10. Born Stubborn (4:07)
11. Jasco (1:57)
12. Itsári (live) (4:48)
13. Ambush (4:39)
14. Endangered Species (5:19)
15. Dictatorshit (1:25)
16. Procreation (Of the Wicked) (3:39)
17. Symptom of the Universe (4:16)

Total Time: 66:55

Bonus disc
1. Procreation (Of the Wicked) (3:39)
2. Mine (6:25)
3. War (6:40)
4. Lookaway (Master Vibe mix) (5:36)
5. Mine (Andy Wallace mix) (7:58)
6. Dusted (demo) (4:27)
7. Roots Bloody Roots (demo) (3:32)
8. R.D.P. (demo) (1:15)
9. Untitled (demo) (4:14)
10. Attitude (live) (5:37)
11. Roots Bloody Roots (Megawatt mix 1) (4:01)
12. Roots Bloody Roots (Megawatt mix 2) (4:08)

Total Time: 57:38


- Max Cavalera / Vocals, 4-string guitar, Berimbau
- Andreas Kisser / Lead guitar, Sitar, Backing Vocals
- Igor Cavalera / Drums, Percussion, Timbau, Djembe
- Paulo Jr. / Bass, Timbau Grandé


- Mike Patton / Vocals on "Lookaway" and "Mine"
- David Silveria / Drums on "Ratamahatta"
- Carlinhos Brown / Vocals, Percussion, Berimbau, Timbau, Wood Drums, Lataria, Xequere, Surdos on "Ratamahatta"
- Jonathan Davis / Vocals on "Lookaway"
- DJ Lethal / Scratching on "Lookaway"

About this release

Release date: February 20, 1996
Label: Roadrunner Records

Rereleased in 2005 with bonus disk to commemorate Roadrunner's 25th anniversary.

Roots marks the departure from the band's previous thrash releasses and the start of their experimental/alternative era.

It is also the last album with founding member and vocalist Max Cavalera.

Thanks to CCVP, Stooge, Unitron, diamondblack for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

"Roots" is the 6th full-length studio album by Brazilian thrash/groove/alternative metal act Sepultura. The album was released through Roadrunner Records in February 1996. It´s the successor to "Chaos A.D." from 1993. Sepultura had long wanted to incorporate more latin rhythms and ethnic Brazilian themes and atmospheres to their music, and they dipped their toes in that pool on "Chaos A.D. (1993)". On "Roots" they went all in though, even travelling to the Amazonas to record with the Xavante tribe (a tribe chant is heard on a couple of tracks on the album).

Stylistically Sepultura completely left their thrash metal roots behind on "Roots", so in this case back to the roots doesn´t mean a return to the sound of early Sepultura, but a visit to the roots (the indigenous cultures of Brazil) of their country. So this is basically ethnic influenced groove/alternative metal with a strong emphasis and focus on groove and adventurous percussion. Sepultura used to churn out one sharp and memorable riff after another, but here the riffs seem to have taken a backseat, because most of them are just downtuned groovy drones, which don´t stand out much from each other. I´m not completely out of line if I call this an album without a single memorable riff (alright...I´ll go as far as to call the main riff on "Roots Bloody Roots" semi-catchy, but that´s about it). Sepultura have dropped playing guitar solos too, so as written above the focus is very different from the preceding releases by the band.

Max Cavalera´s voice and vocal style has also changed quite a bit. He used to have a deep aggressive shouting vocal style, but here he has opted to scream a lot and his vocals are also often put through effects. The band are as well playing as ever and especially the drumming by Igor Cavalera is both busy and creative. "Roots" is also a well produced release (produced by Ross Robinson), so it´s a quality release on most parameters. There aren´t that many tracks which stand out though, and featuring 17 tracks (the number of tracks vary a little depending on which edition of the album you have) and a total playing time of 66:55 "Roots" is also way too long, overstaying its welcome by many tracks. Standout tracks are "Roots Bloody Roots", "Ratamahatta", and the tribal chant/percussion track "Itsári". The remaining tracks are just there. They aren´t as such of a bad quality, but they just aren´t memorable and several lack direction and hooks.

"Roots" was an interesting experiment for its time and a hugely influential album on the groove/alternative metal scene, and it´s a unique album in Sepultura´s discography. In retrospect it made Sepultura even more successful and heightened their profile on the scene, which ultimately meant they attracted more fans and sold more albums. Check, check, check...the songs though...where are the songs? The memorable riffs, and vocal lines/hooks? To my ears much drown in the downtuned groove laden riffs and percussive experimentation, and I would much rather have had the band focus on writing memorable songs. A 3 star (60%) rating is warranted.
Sepultura's love-it-or-hate-it album. Thrash purists didn't want anything deviating much from Beneath the Remains, while others loved that the band went all out in their tribal influences and obviously what better way for that to thrive than in a nu metal album. Personally I love this album, the grooves of Arise and Chaos A.D. are here but there's so many unique percussive embellishments, vocal experiments, and Brazilian instruments to enhance the hooks. Attitude is especially exemplary of it with throat singing and a variety of instruments blending with screeching nu metal guitars.

The likes of Roots Bloody Roots, Ratamahatta, Straighthate, and Born Stubborn are massive and catchy. Max would take this sound further with Soulfly, but this is still where it was done first and overall best.
So, it’s 1996 and metal is just about as dead as a dodo. Sure, there were your various underground bands keeping the faith, and Pantera was there, but for the most part the genre had been an afterthought for a while. It was during this time that many of the longtime staples in metal had begun to change their sound, either out of mainstream starvation or out of boredom. Sepultura was one of the prime examples, releasing Roots early that year to some controversy. Oh, was there controversy. The media, for the most part, loved it. The metalheads, for the most part, hated it. I love me some controversy, especially regarding music, so Roots is a very interesting album to me. I was on the fence for quite a while, trying to decide if it was either creative genius or nu-metal garbage, but after navigating through the deepest jungles of South America (read: my brain), I have finally seen the light in Sepultura’s most diverse record.

Roots is famous for being one of the first metal albums to incorporate heavy doses of tribal elements. Of course, there were some hints of the band going in this direction on Arise and Chaos A.D., but not to this magnitude. Just about every track has Brazilian percussion and reggae influences thrown in there, making for a listening experience that’s unique, at the very least. Tracks like Ratamahatta and Breed Apart are centered around such drumming, with Brazilian musician Carlinhos Brown making a significant contribution on the former. This is the album’s calling card, as the tribal aspects outshine everything else and make Roots what it is.

Don’t be confused. This is still a metal album. The thrashing is all but gone, but Roots is still one heavy sonofabitch. The riffs are slow, sludgy, and simple, creating more of a bottom-heavy atmosphere than a guitar-oriented attack. When tribal drumming is not being used, Igor Cavalera is still as steady as they come behind the kit, beating his drums with relentless energy and vigor, especially on Dusted and the Cut-Throat. It’s different, sure, but that’s why they call it alternative metal. Oh, and the other Cavalera? He’s on an absolute rampage on this album. I would hate to be the person who sent Max over the edge, because he’s beyond pissed on every track. His guitar work might be a bit lazy, but his emotive vocal performance more than makes up for it.

So, what’s wrong with Roots? To a lot of people, this album comes off as too experimental. The tribal elements are annoying, it’s not metal enough, and the band’s changing image (Max’s dyed dreadlocks, in particular) made many fans wonder where the hell that great 80s thrash band went. It’s no secret that two of the biggest influences on Sepultura’s alternative metal adventure were Korn and Deftones, which was a big no-no to those who cared way too much. The guitars are downtuned to an atrocious level as a result of these influences. Did I mention it’s not metal enough? I mean, those exotic jams are just WEIRD! The distorted vocals are stupid (I can agree with this), some of the songs are too noisy (I agree with this too), and it’s still not metal enough. Lookaway is definitely a “miss” in the grand experiment, using the vocals of Jonathan Davis and Mike Patton to zero effectiveness, and having two tribal jams in a row (Jasco and Itsari) kind of put me off. Obviously, when a band changes its sound so drastically, you can’t really expect consistent songwriting results on the first (and only) try; there are plenty of things on Roots that just flat-out do not work. The album is closed with another jam, which might have been a good idea if it wasn’t so damn long. Instead, it acts as a sort of anticlimactic ending to an album full of variety.

Despite all of the mixed feelings I have about Roots, here is why it ends up working. In making this album, Sepultura did not just base their music off of Brazilian culture, but they embraced it. Forget about the nu-metal influences for a minute; the band went to great lengths to make this album a piece of Brazilian history, and that should be commended. Sepultura met with the Xavante Indians to help with recording and learn more about their culture and, they based almost all of the lyrics on problems in the Brazilian culture and politics. This can be hard to take in going track-by-track, but if you look at it from a broader perspective, you can realize that the album is truly greater than the sum of its parts. Roots is not a concept album, and yet it embodies the society, emotions, and people of Brazil all the same. As a straight-up metal album, Roots falls short; but as I understand more and more about the creation of this album and the ground it broke, I have less and less of a problem giving it the respect it truly deserves.

As album opener Roots Bloody Roots bursts forth from my speakers I feel that the album Roots is going to be something special. It’s a metal anthem, and rightly deserves to be credited as one of Sepultura’s finest moments. As it drew to a close on my first play of the album my thoughts were: “God Damn it, if the rest of the album is only half this good this is going to become my favourite Sepultura album!”

Sadly I was in for one of the biggest disappointments in heavy metal music that I have ever had. The remainder of Roots is almost entirely lame, to where near the quality of its opener. Attitude includes a tasty sounding intro playing on a tribal type instrumental called a Berimbau, which brings something different into a song which is almost as good as Roots Bloody Roots, and kept my attention going. It was only first the tracks that followed that I become decidedly bored with this album. The only two songs that I find up to standard are Born Stubborn (barely, the tribal outro saves it) and Ambush.

The rest of Roots varies between the awful (Lookaway) to the mediocre (Spit, Dusted). Lookaway really is just pure rubbish, possibly the worst thing this band ever recorded. The guitar sound is really bad, far too much fuzz and the triple team of vocals (Max Cavalera, Jonathan Davis and Mike Patton (Faith No More)) really sound beyond awful. This song is a complete mess. It’s not metal, it's noise. I'm sorry to resort to calling it that since calling metal noise is typically a hater's logic, but in this case it's totally unavoidable. There are several other choice words I could call it but I try to refrain from using those in reviews. Why Sepultura even wanted to put their good name to this is beyond my thinking. To a lesser degree the same may be said on most of this album. The two (mostly) instrumental songs, the Andreas Kisser solo piece, Jasco, and the tribal chanting of Itsari have more credibility here than most of the metal songs.

Other songs don’t come so close to being as bad as Lookaway, but the utterly ridiculous Ratamahatta comes real close. Full marks for originality, but only a few marks for actual results. (A few points given due to the actual music sounding good, but overall, it’s a really bad song, one which I can only enjoy when watching its rather entertaining music video with, but I‘m reviewing this song as part of an album, not as a music video, so no extra points for enjoy ability there.)

Another completely pointless ‘song’ is the unaccredited track, which is apparently titled Canyon Jam. All of what makes this track is just over 13 minutes of tribal percussion. It is boring and pointless and as the last song only inspires to stop the album early. It sounds as if Sepultura just wanted to make the albums total length to look longer than it was with all the proper songs. It’s only a minute under an hour without Canyon Jam, but the really sad fact about it is that only just over 16 of those minutes is good, fist in the air, metal. Roots is quite easily the weakest Sepultura album that I've heard, and I've heard much of them. If this is what Max Cavalera was going to keep producing with Sepultura then I’m glad that he left them, and I can’t say that any prospect of him returning to Sepultura in the much wished for reunion thrills me at all, unless they were to bring back the sound of the band’s classic albums like Beneath the Remains. Not that that's ever liking to happen in any case.

Overall this album is getting a 2, on the basis of 16 songs, breaking that down as four good ones, and a bunch a mediocre ones. The lost 8 points is made of the stuff like Lookaway and Canyon Jam, and the many missed opportunities that could have been taken to make the mediocre songs into something more special. The mix of metal and world music here is mostly an experiment gone horribly wrong, but on the basis of Roots Blood Roots, Attitude, Born Stubborn and Itsari in particular, the theory was actually a firmly sound one, but the end result is one of the worst albums I've ever heard.
The Angry Scotsman
This is Sepultura's biggest album, their claim to fame. This should not be a surprise since the band moved towards another genre with "Roots", the burgeoning Alternative Metal scene.

The band said they wanted to experiment more on this album, especially with the percussive sounds of Brazilian music. They also borrowed from nu metal, specifically Korn. This left me very unsure about how I would feel about this album. When I finally listened to it I was indeed a bit disappointed with Sepultura's "best work" (sales and accolade does not equate to good music as we know).

"Roots" has pretty much abandoned the rest of Sepultura's thrash metal days. The thrashiness and technicality has been replaced with very heavy, generic riffs and weird guitar sounds. "Roots" is a basically a Korn album but with better drumming and more intense vocals.

The album can be summed up perfectly with the opening track. Mid paced, super heavy, simple riffs, weird guitar noises and even that distinctive Korn bass sound. However, the tribal influenced drumming is cool sounding and Max's vocals are powerful. I will admit I actually do enjoy this song.

I do like some songs off this album, they are ironically the more experimental ones such as the very tribal sounding "Ratamahatta" the acoustic "Jasco" and "Itsari" (which was actually recorded with a Brazilian Indian tribe). The one thrashy song on the album, "Dictatorsh*t" is pretty good and packed with energy. However, even this is mucked up by muddy nu metal riffs and annoying "solos". The rest of the songs are all the same basic thing, a muddy mess.

I do give Sepultura credit for experimenting and wanting to make an album true to their hearts, something uniquely theirs and getting in touch with their heritage. That being said this is a poor album. This is a nu metal album with better drumming and more intense vocals. There are some good songs, and Igor's drumming really is superb, but overall this album sounds like a swamp.

If you are a fan of nu metal then this album may be worth a pick up, if you are will most likely be disappointed.

Two Stars

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