Champion of freedom and civil rights, Martin Luther King wrote “As long as the mind is enslaved, the body can never be free. Psychological freedom, a firm sense of self-esteem, is the most powerful weapon against the long night of physical slavery.” Sepultura’s latest album Quadra is an exploration of the artificial boundaries, subdivisions, and rules we use to oppress and dominate each other and ourselves. Sepultura uses the power of thrash to excite your mind, provoke thought, and hopefully bring that much closer to freedom.
I will admit that I’ve created my own boundaries. When Max and then Igor left Sepultura, I had given up on the band. Nu-metal had lost its thrill. I yearned for mighty riffs and soaring solos. I sought solace in Chaos AD and Arise. However, after hearing “I Am The Enemy” from Sepultura’s Machine Messiah, I came back into the fold. Happily, Quadra revitalizes Sepultura’s thrash roots while allowing the band to explore multiple dimensions of sound and fury.
The opening song called “Isolation” begins with eerie synth and random drum beats calling to mind a monster beat on a metal door. This bleeds into a grand choral intro that explodes into frenzied thrasher. The choral elements are sprinkled through this album. They add a classical aspect that provides depth and color. Thankfully it isn’t overused or thrown in as filler as with a lot of second-tier symphonic metal.
The tribal nu-metal dissonance that Sepultura pioneered on Roots is alive and well on songs such as “Means to an End” and “Autem”. Fun fact, “Autem” means “however” in Latin. Each of these songs is packed with vicious grooves accented with deathly blasts. “Autem” includes some interesting guitar work that shifts the mood from violence to calm introspection.
Derrick Green sounds amazing on Quadra. He is utilizing all of his vocal tools to generate feelings of passion, fear, and rage. A standout track that lets Green spread his wings is “Agony Of Defeat”. The song begins with chiming synths and chorused guitar arpeggio. The symphonic treatment gives this song drama. Derrick Green comes in with understated clean vocals which build in emotion and intensity. There is a desert quality to the music. A middle-eastern feel which casts images of a bird of prey soaring over the Sahara. Greens vocals build in fury along with the music. The more I listen to this song, the more I feel it could easily be on Strapping Young Lad record.
Another outstanding track is “Guardians Of Earth”. A beautifully dissonant acoustic guitar introduces the song. Then choral vocals create a sense of space and grandeur before the roof is torn off. Sepultura unleashes hell behind the roar of Derrick Green. I feel transfixed by the folkish melodic guitar solo radiating with lyricism. The grand operatic quality returns in a demanding climax. This is easily my favorite track on the album.
Andreas Kisser, Paulo Jr., and Eloy Casagrande shine with the molten glory of a million suns on “The Pentagram”. This instrumental is a shredfest of guitars and drums. Packed with menacing riffs that leave you snarling and snapping, this song is a behemoth. The music creates visions of a mechanical beast with a blood-red pentagram rampaging in an onslaught of megalithic proportions.
Quadra by Sepultura is a masterpiece of uncompromising and crushingly heavy metal. The album blends aggressive thrash with progressive elements to create one of the best albums in the band’s impressive catalog. While Sepultura stays within some of the boundaries that they have set for themselves, they are also daring to experiment and break free.