SEPULTURA — Roots (review)

SEPULTURA — Roots album cover Album · 1996 · Alternative Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
"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.
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UMUR wrote:
1 year ago
I have no idea...
siLLy puPPy wrote:
1 year ago
What's going on with the site? Tried to comment on a Rage album but the function doesn't work. But it works here? That's weird
siLLy puPPy wrote:
1 year ago
Great review BTW!
siLLy puPPy wrote:
1 year ago
Yeah i know i'm in a rare club loving this one. I don't compare a band's albums to what came before. I just judge it on its own merits. For what it is, it's a great mix of punk infused immediacy and commentary mixed with harsh distortion and groove metal. Add a bit of indigenous Brazilian music and it's a gem. Definitely love all the previous albums. Haven't heard every album after so will have to do that some day.
UMUR wrote:
1 year ago
Not surprisingly I don´t enjoy his at all. it´s definitely a unique release, but it lacks everything I loved about the previous releases by Sepultura, and yeah it completely lacks riffs. The guitar riffs on this album aren´t memorable and they are more or less just there to add heaviness and distortion. This is definitely not my poison. I didn´t like it then, and I haven´t grown to like it so many years after. They´ve released quite a few albums since, which are much better IMO.
siLLy puPPy wrote:
1 year ago
I just listened to this recently and absolutely love this album. This is a solid 4 star album for me. It's not only unique but the execution and the lyrical content are outstanding. Not sure why so many find this bad or just OK. One of the Sept's best albums IMHO. After this one though the quality dipped a few notches though :/


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