Sepultura - _A-Lex_
(SPV, 2009)
by: Jackie Smit (5.5 out of 10)
The thing that makes true musical chemistry so elusive -- regardless of genre -- is that every piece of the proverbial puzzle absolutely has to be present in order for things to come together. Rather obviously, this would serve to explain why _Chinese Democracy_ was an insult to the Guns 'n' Roses back catalogue, why Hetfield and Ulrich would never survive without each other, and why Sepultura will never again scale the epic heights of the seminal _Arise_.

Still, the Brazilians handled the exit of Max Cavalera more deftly than most, and I'd be lying if I didn't say that I was partial particularly to _Nation_. Heck, their last record, _Dante IX_, was a real grower too. But with Igor Cavalera now following his brother's footsteps out the door, and the catcalls for a reunion or a break-up growing increasingly louder, the remaining Seps have the odds stacked against them, and they have done themselves no favours by tackling yet another heady concept.

Storming off the blocks with the very impressive "Moloko Mesto", you'd be tempted to think that they'll be able to rise against the swelling tide. Easily one of the fastest ditties to bear their moniker in the last decade, Andreas Kisser even goes so far as to rip into a guitar solo that's scintillating enough to remind us all that the man can still shred. "Filthy Rot" is next, vaguely reminiscent of the experimental leanings of _Roots_, but devoid of any real direction, and by the time the haunting "We've Lost You" has played out, you can't help but sense that the boys are in trouble.

The new man on the skins, Jean Dolabella, plays his heart out behind the drumkit, but isn't even close to being a match for Igor's intuitive, tribal-tinged hammering -- and that's just the start of the problems here. The record's pacing is awkward and sluggish, thanks in no small part to a series of pointless instrumental breaks, undoubtedly intended to embellish on the disc's ambitious story-telling, but failing miserably to do so. Indeed, without the lyric sheet, the only obvious tip of the hat to "A Clockwork Orange" comes in the shape of the hideously ill-conceived "Ludwig Van" -- an interpretation of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" that is so cringe-worthy, the great composer himself might have felt compelled to urge them to patch up their differences with the Cavalera brothers had he had the misfortune of hearing it.


(article published 15/1/2009)

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