Prolific rock critic Chuck Eddy has characterized Sepultura's
most recent studio album (Roots) as sounding like someone vomiting
over the soundtrack of a "National Geographic" television special. Said
description of these Brazilian sludge-metal freakazoids who
experiment with traditional Brazilian and Japanese Kodo drumming is pretty
accurate, but I don't necessarily consider that a bad thing.
These days, when just about any noise is employed for "interesting textural
effect" -- a baby's cry, a car horn, the clicking of keys on a computer
keyboard -- why shouldn't (accidental) simulations of vomiting over
soundtracks score points for inventiveness?
Against, like Roots, features heavy
drums and metal riffs to the tune of the hoarse caterwauling of vocalist
Derrick Green, who has replaced founding member and vocalist Max Cavalera
(Cavalera left over a dispute with the band's manager after Roots
Things get off to a Motörheady
start with the title track, then shift gears to the
slower-paced chunky riffage and polyrhythmic action of "Choke," on which
Green demonstrates his patented whoops and howls (the Brazilian
death-metal version of Master P's New Orleans-based constipated hip-hop
"Floating in the Mud" -- with its z-bells, timbales, udu drums, roto toms
and high djembe -- could almost pass as the soundtrack to some
New Agey, self-affirming ritual. That is, until the rumbling
bass, flesh-eating guitars and
electrified yowls kick in to provide some relief after all that
hair-raising tranquility. Yet another worldbeat-meets-sounds-of-torture ditty is the instrumental "F.O.E.," which marries pretty drum patterns that could have
been featured on Paul Simon's Rhythm of the Saints album with
horrendous guitar noise.
Most of these songs sound as though they're being
played by a bunch of sick dirtballs who have no respect for
traditional indigenous music (which is maybe why I like it so much).
Another entry in the dirtball-playing-world-music genre is "Kamaitachi,"
which was recorded with a Japanese
Kodo drumming troupe on Sado Island, Japan -- a serene setting, I'm sure,
until Sepultura came along.