Saturday, December 21, 2013

Sepultura - The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must be the Heart (2013)

Yeah, yeah, yeah... ok, so the album's title is supposed to be a clever reference to Fritz Lang's 1927 masterpiece 'Metropolis', but sorry, the shit just sounds plain lame to me.

Now, before you go thinkin' that I'm one of these "underground" homos who hates everything Sepultura has released post-stinky boy Max Cavalera (or for those truly underground cock-smokers who mock what the band has does since the release of 'Arise' way back in 1991) let me clarify that I've actually quite enjoyed the bulk of the material with Derek Green behind the mic. Despite the goofy homosexuality of certain bands (Limp Bizkit, Papa Roach, P.O.D.) I actually didn't mind the Ross Robinson obsessed sounds of a small number of "nu" metal bands out there (and trust me... I really don't give a fuck what the Autopsy/Incantation wannabes think of that either). In fact, at the time I thought that some of the bands in that scene sounded rather refreshing and certainly brought something new to the table, so I really didn't mind the direction Sepultura headed in starting with 'Roots' (though one could rightly surmise that the first step taken in this direction actually began with 'Chaos A.D.'). For one, I've always preferred slower and lower tuned riff sequences as opposed to the more high pitched and tinny sounds of many a thrash band throughout the 80's. I also felt that the inclusion of Brazilian tribal drumming into the equation was awesome, especially when accompanied by a nice fat bowl (or joint or whatever the fuck your preference is). Sure, I was worried about Max leaving the band but after hearing 'Against' I was convinced that all would be well. Sure, that album wasn't exactly a flawless victory but the good outnumbered the suck and since that time Sepultura has released more hits than misses. Trust me.

'The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must be the Heart' continues the band's tradition of releasing quality yet misunderstood albums throughout the last decade and a 1/2. If there's one gripe I have with this album it's the production. Ross Robinson and Sepultura made a great team back in 1996 as I've always dug the earthiness of that album. This time around it sounds as if Ross showed up to the proceedings drunk on cooking sherry. There is such a sloppy and disheveled sound this time around that it really makes things feel rather tragic as a majority of the riffs and fluctuations are lost within the mix. One of the things that I've loved about the many post-Max Sep releases was the thick and flawless sound that they've harnessed. This time everything gives way to a rather unfortunate breakdown of their once winning formula. I'm sure that all parties involved were once again going for that earthy, "rustic" sound of old but something got fucked up in the process.

Riff-wise there are some winning moments throughout and the band's new drummer is a worthy successor to Igor Cavalera. I, unlike many, have never found fault with the vocals of Derek Green. I always felt that his performances were solid and came with the right amount of energy and projection as needed for the sort of music a band like Sepultura creates. besides, let's be totally fucking realistic here... Max Cavalera was NEVER a giant when it came to vocal precision and dominance.

With all that said, 'The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must be the Heart' is a good album slightly marred by a half-assed production. Great album cover, by the way!

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