For the last 16 years of my life I have worshiped at the altar of Sepultura. They have been a band that has more than saved me and they continue to inspire me as both a creative individual and just as a human being overall. The release of a new Sepultura album is quite a big event in my life and ever since “Against” was released back in October 1998 I have been dedicated to making sure that I am at the record store on the day of release to get my copy. The last 16 years of the bands existence has been a very challenging one as a fan with every human stupidly attached to sentimentality always attacking the bands decision to move on after Max Cavalera left the band.
I’ve defended the Derrick Green era of Sepultura every chance I got and have believed in the band and found that in the last 16 years Sepultura have released some of their best material. I’ve felt it inspiring to watch the way that even in the face of such adversity like fan backlash, record labels not believing in them and the music press tearing them to shreds that Sepultura have continued to forge ahead and make such vital movements of heavy metal. I have always made a conscious choice to pledge my allegiance to what Sepultura post-Max has offered and I’ve never been let down and as I’ve aged I have found myself favouring the Derrick Green era of the band over the Max Cavalera era.
In a perfect world however there wouldn’t be such a divide but unfortunately we don’t live in that perfect world but after being in the band for 16 years and releasing seven albums and one EP with the band Derrick Green has now outlasted Max Cavalera as the frontman of Sepultura and in my mind has achieved greater creative success with the band. The voice of Sepultura for me will always be Derrick Green and I think it’s about time the rest of the fucking metal world showed Derrick Green the respect he deserves for being such an important part to the evolution and history of Sepultura.
This brings me to my review of the bands 13th album release “The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be The Heart.” This is Derrick Green’s seventh album as the lead singer of Sepultura and could be one of the greatest records made by Sepultura. Those who have been following the band since “Against” will attest to how “The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be The Heart” feels like the album Sepultura have been building to since Derrick’s introduction to the band. This album is a serious dose of everything that makes Sepultura so influential but it also puts a big focus on the future and considering the band is on the eve of celebrating its 30th Anniversary it is incredibly exciting to hear that after all the years of adversity Sepultura still strive for creative divinity and as a fan it is a very spiritual experience to indulge in.
What makes “The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be The Heart” such an amazing listening experience is the way it has been constructed and the varied meanings motivating the overall communication of each song. Each song on “The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be The Heart” provides an accurate documentation of just how much chaos there is in the world at the moment and how through all the advancements in science and spirituality we as a species are still no closer to achieving peace, harmony and equality for all. There is a deep sigh at the centre of all of these songs that is rooted in anger and confusion but also a desire to rise up from the chaos and to find our way back to a more human vision of humanity.
Musically the band has delved into some incredibly dark places to birth a wonderful mix of thrash, death and groove metal with flourishes of hardcore punk weaving in and out in some of the more direct passages. The flavour is still Sepultura but the band hasn’t sounded this dark or sinister for quite a while, it is a very moody affair which gives the album an intense emotional dialogue. Vocally, Derrick Green has never sounded this intense and whether it is through natural evolution or Ross Robinsons guidance, Green has taken his vocals to the next level. It is once again the moodiness of the overall album that drips into every dynamic and I wonder if once again it wasn’t the energy of Ross Robinson and his production methods that pushed the band into this territory. This point bears repeating because I found “Roots” had a similar darkness and the common denominator here is the production of Ross Robinson.
The real star of Sepultura however and the creative driving force since 1987 has been guitarist Andreas Kisser and once again he proves to be one of the most forward thinking artists in the metal world. When I listen to “The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be The Heart” two songs that really jump out are “The Vatican” and “Tsunami” because they illustrate Kisser’s talent for crafting such unique movements of heavy metal.
These two songs also highlight the new creative relationship Kisser has formed with the band’s new drummer Eloy Casagrande who has been with Sepultura since 2011 with “The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be The Heart” being his recording debut with Sepultura. The new youthful hit of energy he brings has given the overall direction of this record a brilliant and satisfying sense of brutality and he locks in perfectly with the reliable grooves of bass player Paulo Jr. who demonstrates once again how important his tone and performance is to the communication of new Sepultura music. The unity that jumps out at you from the overall performance is what really satisfies me and it becomes quite clear by the end of the album that Sepultura have managed to once again re-invent themselves whilst reminding you why you fell in love with them in the first place.
Somehow Ross Robinson’s production skills elevate the band to a level where they can focus not just on the science of the song but the emotional delivery and with “The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be The Heart” each instrument is jumping out at you with a new kind of urgency. This is not to say that Sepultura haven’t been capable of producing these kinds of emotional performances outside of Robinson’s influence, the band is the epitome of emotional heavy metal but Robinson does inject something into the sound and clearly understands what is so important about the communication of the Sepultura sound.
If Ross Robinson was out to “smoke” what was achieved on “Roots” then I firmly believe that he and the band has done that on this new album. A lot of humans may not instantly hear it but if you spend time with “The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be The Heart” you’ll hear it and you must remember that to “smoke” “Roots” as Robinson claimed was the aim, it doesn’t mean repeating or updating it – it simply means evolving it and it’s clear that Sepultura have achieved that on each of the tracks present on the new album.
At the end of the day the main thing I’m looking for with a new Sepultura album is a bit of evolution and its ability to heal me and hit me emotionally. The evolution part is always an easy thing for Sepultura to achieve because they are always on a quest to better themselves and on “The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be The Heart” the band has taken brave new steps into the future of their fourth decade as a band. When it comes to the emotional resonance “The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be The Heart” delivers and heals in the way I always hope for when I buy a new Sepultura album. This album has indeed saved me and delivered me from a bit of darkness that I found myself swirling in and after 16 years of this band saving my life it feels amazing to know that they are still doing it and as a fan I’m incredibly in debt to Sepultura for the years of sonic therapy they have provided.
That is what is important about Sepultura to me, beyond all the historical legacy and which era you prefer – it is the way the band have provided such emotional healing for me over the years. When I’ve felt the most misunderstood I could have ever felt, Sepultura acted as a saviour and gave me the strength to live on through the pain. On “The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be The Heart” I find it interesting to see the band musing on the current state of the world as I see it and how it makes them feel angry at how inhumane we’ve become. This is my anger as a 30 year old man as and it is an anger that drives me in order to restore some peace in this world. When your creative heroes also mirror these feelings there is nothing more satisfying.
When all is said and done I think this album proves just how vital and forward thinking the Derrick Green era of Sepultura have been and to see so many humans in the media claim it as some kind of “return to form” really is a back handed compliment. Sepultura were never out of form, they forged ahead at a time when people were ready to discard them for good. As an album “The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be The Heart” is a tribute to the bands strength and commitment to the legacy and I believe that anyone who still finds the time to compare the band to achievements made between 1984 and 1997 and judge them solely on that are foolish imposters who are a big reason why our world will never achieve peace and equality.
At the end of the day, fuck the haters “The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be The Heart” is a flawless piece of metal and I’m fucking very glad that in 2013 I still get to have the thrill of Sepultura releasing fresh new music.
10 Billion Cassette Tapes out of 10
By: Dan Newton