SEPULTURA — Roots (review)

SEPULTURA — Roots album cover Album · 1996 · Alternative Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
1/5 ·
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.
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