Pick up Sepultura vinyl over at Revolver's shop.
Sepultura have a complicated history. Formed in Brazil by brothers Max and Iggor Cavalera in the early 1980s, the band would eventually break out of the South American thrash underground when they caught the ear of Roadrunner Records, who issued several of their records in the late Eighties and early 1990s that rank among the greatest in metal history.
Alas, after 1996's Roots, vocalist-guitarist-songwriter Max departed the band and was replaced by new frontman Derrick Green. His brother Iggor eventually exited in 2006, but this newly minted Sepultura lineup — with Green on the mic and lead guitarist Andreas Kisser taking over all guitar duties — have released a bounty of albums in the years since.
The still-active second iteration of Sepultura remain wildly popular, but when we asked our readers to pick their single favorite album in the group's entire catalog, the top five vote-getters were all from Max's era of the band. See which classics ranked among their best below.
After cutting their teeth in the Brazilian death-thrash underground, Sepultura underwent two crucial developments for their sophomore album, Schizophrenia. 1) It was their first album with powerhouse lead guitarist Andreas Kisser. 2) It was their first to be released by Roadrunner Records, who'd pull the band out of the South American underground and put them on the path toward international domination.
Musically, this record still finds Sepultura working out the kinks in their sound, but still nailing a ferocious cross-breed of Celtic Frost-indebted savagery and Slayer-esque speed-metal virtuosity. It rips, and it's one of Sepultura's best, but definitely not their best.
Max Cavalera's swan song with the group managed to completely turn Sepultura's sound on its head, and in the process, accomplish something that no other metal bands in the world could pull off.
Drawing from the nascent nu-metal scene in the U.S. and fusing that with tribal grooves and traditional Brazilian instrumentation, Sepultura created a majestic beast of a record that polarized their fan base and impressed newcomers in equal measure. Its quasi-title-track, "Roots Bloody Roots," is a classic, but the whole LP is a wild ride worth taking.
By the early Nineties, Sepultura had gone as far as they could in the traditional thrash lane, but they weren't content to sit back and watch the new school of groove-metal upstarts run them out of town.
On Chaos A.D., the band took bold swings like incorporate tribal drumming on "Territory," recording the heartbeat of Max's unborn child for "Refuse/Resist" and tracking the folk-infused "Kaiowas" interlude in an abandoned castle in Wales.
These risks would ultimately pay off, affirming Sepultura's status as one of metal's most forward-thinking bands, and earning a plethora of new fans through from the major label backing Chaos A.D. received from Epic.
Schizophrenia was great, but Beneath the Remains was the band's first undeniable masterpiece. Using the skill set of Florida death-metal boardsmith Scott Burns (who's soon become the go-to death-metal producer in the world), Sepultura's 1989 LP checked the three most important boxes: bone-crushing power, surgical clarity and piles upon piles of riffs.
Standouts like "Inner Self," "Primitive Future" and the rip-roaring title track crystallized the band's singular fusion of death-metal ferocity and thrash zippiness. As an album, the nine-track opus appealed to a generation of heshers who were souring on generic speed metal and yearned for the genre to sound mean and nasty again. Beneath the Remains delivered.
We actually thought the final tallies would be closer, but Arise won this poll by a landslide. Sepultura's 1991 album took everything they did great on Beneath the Remains and ramped it up a notch.
The band were getting tighter and heavier, but also more creative. The title track — one of Sepultura's most beloved songs to this day — sums this landmark record pretty nicely, a snarling, whiplash-inducing joyride through flesh-ripping riffs and hellacious vocals.
Max considers it "the prototypical death-thrash song." Arise, the full, 42-minute-plus record, might be the prototypical death-thrash album.