Since its release in April of 1989, Sepultura's Beneath the Remains has risen in stature from a cult favorite to a bona fide thrash-metal classic. The Brazilian band's third album, and first for Roadrunner Records, regularly ranks in metalheads' and critics' best-of-the-Eighties lists, alongside genre-definers like Slayer's Reign in Blood and Metallica's Kill 'Em All.
Among those devotees is Gatecreeper's Chase Mason. But for Mason, who came of age a decade or so after Beneath the Remains' release, the road to Sepultura's death-thrash breakout was a circuitous one.
By the time Mason discovered the group in the 2000s, Sepultura were widely known for their latter-day, groove-metal style, which was epitomized on their wildly popular 1996 album Roots. It wasn't until Mason dug into the 2004 book, Choosing Death — which traced the evolution of death metal and grindcore — that he investigated Beneath the Remains and discovered its feral blend of raw death-infused thrash. Below, Mason weighs in on how that album's "catchy riffs and vocal phrasings" influenced his own Arizona crew's brand of death metal, and why he considers Sepultura to be a perfect "gateway" to extreme metal.
DESCRIBE HOW YOU FIRST DISCOVERED SEPULTURA.
I first heard of Sepultura through a childhood friend who got really into metal before anyone else I knew. He was more into Soulfly at the time, but I remember him wearing a Sepultura shirt at some point, as well.
TALK ABOUT THE FIRST TIME YOU HEARD BENEATH THE REMAINS, AND HOW YOU DISCOVERED IT.
I checked out Beneath the Remains in the mid-2000s when reading the book Choosing Death. Before that, I categorized Sepultura as more of a thrash band or even nu-metal-based on Roots. When reading that book I found out how much Beneath the Remains landed in death-metal territory.
BENEATH THE REMAINS IS CONSIDERED BY MANY CRITICS AND FANS TO BE A NEAR-PERFECT DEATH-THRASH GENRE STATEMENT, IN TERMS OF RAW CREATIVITY AND LACK OF FILLER. WHAT DOES BENEATH THE REMAINS MEAN TO YOU?
I think Beneath the Remains is a good example of using hooks in extreme music. There are a lot of catchy riffs and vocal phrasings that I have taken influence from.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE SONG ON BENEATH THE REMAINS, AND WHY?
"Stronger Than Hate." There are just so many good riffs.
HOW, IF AT ALL, DID SEPULTURA OR THE ALBUM INFLUENCE YOUR CREATIVE DEVELOPMENT AS A MUSICIAN, OR YOUR ATTITUDE AS AN ARTIST?
I have always appreciated extreme bands who can act as a gateway to more extreme music. I think Sepultura is that for a lot of people. They have the songwriting that allows them to be extreme and underground while appealing to a wider audience.
IS BENEATH THE REMAINS SOMETHING YOU REGULARLY GO BACK AND LISTEN TO? OR DOES IT REPRESENT A CERTAIN PERIOD OF TIME IN YOUR LIFE?
I can go back and listen to it at any time.