"The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be the Heart" is the 13th full-length studio album by Brazilian thrash metal act Sepultura. The album was released through Nuclear Blast Records in October 2013. Sepultura´s career has been quite an interesting and at times bumpy ride. From underground cult fame in the eighties, to international acclaim and commercial success in the early- to mid nineties, culminating in the ugly split with lead vocalist/guitars Max Cavalera in 1997. The quality of the band´s output since then have been a bit up and down, but there is no doubt that Max Cavalera´s departure from the band was also a fan divider and that has affected both fans and critic´s opinions on all post-Max Cavalera Sepultura releases.
While Sepultura played thrash metal up until the early nineties, they began playing a more alternative style of metal already before Max Cavalera left the band, and many of the albums with his replacement Derrick Green, have featured a sound that lean more towards alternative metal than towards their original thrash metal sound. From "Dante XXI (2005)" and onwards Sepultura have begun to incorporate more and more thrash metal elements to their music again and that trend continues on "The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be the Heart", where the thrash metal elements are dominant and the alternative metal elements few and far between (most prominent in "Grief" and in the Chico Science & Nação Zumbi cover "Da Lama ao Caos"). Harsh thrashy riffing, aggressive shouting (and distorted) vocals and pounding drumming (spiced up with some tribal percussion) are the main ingredients of the music.
Producer Ross Robinson, who produced "Roots (1996)", makes a return and is credited for producing "The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be the Heart". There´s been a lineup change since "Kairos (2011)" as Eloy Casagrande replaces Jean Dolabella on the drums. Casagrande is a skilled drummer and definitely a breath of fresh air. I don´t know if that is why this album sounds so intense and passionate or if Ross Robinson somehow lifted them to a higher level, but "The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be the Heart" is quite a positive surprise. The material is well written and relatively memorable, the musicianship is on a high level and the sound production is powerful. "The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be the Heart" is inspired by the 1927 film "Metropolis" (Fritz Lang) although the album is not as such a concept album. The album shares the dark and dystopian atmosphere of the film though and the focus on a more dark sound suits Sepultura well. Therefore "Da Lama ao Caos" feels like the odd track out on the album and an anticlimatic close to the album, with it´s alternative metal sound.
Although not everything on the album is great, I still think that "The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be the Heart" is the best album the band have released post-Max Cavalera. It´s the first album with Derrick Green that has really pulled me in. And that´s not because of Green´s vocals which are pretty standard to my ears. Here they are even distorted/processed a large portion of the time, which is a bit of a shame. It´s the songwriting and the sound production that take the prize here and elevate Sepultura to a higher level than they have been on for years. A 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.