Over the years, Andreas Kisser and the boys have churned out a steady arsenal of high-quality metal records to only lukewarm applause. 2006’s Dante XXI was a daring foray into experimental thrash with some of the grooviest riffs this side of Chaos AD while Quadra’s 2017 predecessor, Machine Messiah, ventured into prog-metal territory. Yet, despite this, many continue to overlook Sepultura as an innovative band without Max Cavalera at the helm.
Next year will be Derrick Green’s twenty-fourth year fronting Sepultura, exactly double the tenure of Max’s time in the band. Anybody who’s heard Max’s sterile vocal performance of recent years will know which of the two has the better pipes. My message for you is simple: ignore this current line-up at your peril.
Quadra is the type of ambitious and multi-faceted album a legendary metal band of three decades should be leaving for their offspring to create. Instead, the boys from Brazil come racing out of the blocks on opener, ‘Isolation’, as if this is 1991’s Arise all over again. The riffs slice through the speakers like stray blade-cutters while drum supremo, Eloy Casagrande, gives his kit the pounding of its life. ‘Means to an End’ and ‘Last Time’ maintain the momentum of the first quarter before they waltz into their highly influential groove metal sound on ‘Ali’ and ‘Raging Void’.
Indeed, this album’s symmetry is its strongest asset. The twelve songs demand you listen to them as a four-sided LP. ‘Guardians of Earth’ and ‘The Pentagram’ keep things interesting in the third quarter with a full spectrum of metal on display from down-tuned polyrhythms to symphonic chants and the type of crunchy metalcore riffs they helped to pioneer before the genre existed. But the extraordinary moments crystallise on the last quarter where Derrick Green delivers some of his best cleans on the anthemic, ‘Agony of Defeat’, replete with Arabian strings, a female choir and chugging guitars. This would not be out of place on Celtic Frost’s underrated masterpiece, Vanity/Nemesis. Fans of Septic Flesh will love it.
Yet the band go one step further on closer, ‘Fear-Pain-Chaos-Suffering’, with guest vocalist, Emmily Barretto, matching Green’s intensity to produce a moment of metallic bombast as good as anything from the Nightwish back catalogue. A remarkable end to an album that never runs out of ideas and knows how to keep things heavy and interesting.
Apart from a brief moment of plodding at the half-way mark, Quadra is short on flaws and high on energy. A mention should also go to Jens Bogren’s supreme production. The interplay between Andreas Kisser’s guitarwork and Eloy Casagrande’s drumming has never sounded as fresh. Paolo Xisto’s bass could be a bit louder and more imaginative in the mix, but Derrick Green’s vocal annunciation is crisp and invigorating without the trickery of double tracking.
This is not a return to form; Sepultura have been making high calibre records since the early noughties. But here they might just win over the fans of the Max era who were foolish enough to ignore the Derrick Green era.
Release Date: 07/02/2020
Record Label: Nuclear Blast
Standout tracks: Isolation, Raging Void, Fear-Pain-Chaos-Suffering
Suggested Further Listening: Bolt Thrower – Those Once Loyal (2005), Celtic Frost – Vanity/Nemesis (1990), Jinjer – King of Everything (2016)