New Age Music For Headbangers

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 ...

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

nature-special

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

was released).

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

groans).

"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.