posted on 6/2011 By:
Let me begin by saying that Kairos is the first full album under the Sepultura name that I have heard since Against all the way back in 1998. I’ve caught snippets here and there, enough to reinforce how little I still care, but haven’t found the motivation to hear anything more since then. If any of you think that might disqualify me from writing this review, well, that makes you one of the 50 people worldwide that is still blind-buying these albums, and this isn’t for you anyway. So bugger off. Moving right along…
Here we are six albums into the Derrick Green era and two into the “Sepultura” one (that which is completely devoid of Cavaleras and therefore in-fucking-valid), and the band is largely continuing what they’ve been up to since Max left the fold. To some of you (the minority), this means releasing an acceptable combination of Chaos A.D.- or Roots-era groove thrash and hardcore. To the rest of you (us), it is the sound of this band, all of these years later, still auditioning to be that which they really aren’t. Is it unlistenable? No, it isn’t, and at times it is moderately acceptable in certain facets. But it’s boring enough – usually unbearably so – to be instantly obsolete in a world that still proudly holds onto the albums that Kairos emulates.
Most songs on Kairos follow a fairly simplistic pattern: introduce a rudimentary half-riff (like that first St. Anger line you were so excited to master after playing guitar for a week), rotate in a few small variations on it, occasionally bring in some thrashing speed, and inevitably toss in an only-because-we-have-to chorus containing lyrics as derpish as what Max keeps recycling for Soulfly. Joining this is typically some relentless, china-cymbal-obsessed drumming, Derrick Green’s could-likely-be-great-in-a-band-that-fits-him barked vocals, and, if you’re lucky, one of Andreas Kisser’s still-awesome guitar solos. (Kisser is the only one that doesn’t appear to have been lobotomized prior to recording his instruments, more to come…) The resulting 50 minutes will never make you want to throw your speakers off the balcony, but they will sure as shit put you to sleep despite creating enough noise to piss off your neighbors. Making matters worse is the band’s tendency to throw moderately bad-ass material in the middle of utter shite. “Mask” is the best example of this, containing a wickedly cool instrumental break in the middle (including, you guessed it, a song-saving solo) before launching back into the nu garbage that introduced the track. The only song of the 10 or so originals herein that doesn’t falter is “No One Will Stand,” a fairly straightforward speed-thrash romp that unfortunately comes far too late in the proceedings to have any real impact.
The biggest issue here isn’t the primitive un-riffs or even the stylistic choices, but the nature of the performances. This is not to say that anything is sloppy or unarticulated, quite the contrary, as Kairos may actually be too accurate and precise. Post-Igor skinsman Jean Dolabella has little of the flair or nuance that his predecessor did, often coming across as a robot (call him iGor?). Similarly, the rhythm guitar parts sound automated as if they were recorded once and looped continually for three minutes each. Passion and fervor go a long way to making simplistic music into something special: just look at Roots. (And, yes, I realize that doesn’t convince some of you.) Instead of feeling like the product of musicians who have mostly been playing together for years, this feels like the result of low-paid session musicians. Honestly, had Kisser not shown up to lay down leads there would be nothing even remotely human about Kairos. Add to this a very well-balanced and crisp yet somewhat sterile production, and you have the formula for lifeless heavy metal.
Perhaps “Sepultura” is just as bored as their listeners will be after spinning Kairos. The band proves with two covers – The Prodigy’s “Firestarter” and Ministry’s “Just One Fix” – that their tastes are currently far out of the thrash metal terrain within which they attempt to write. (The former contains the album’s best soloing and the latter the best riffs – never a good sign.) Late album track “Structure Violence (Azzes),” with its tribal-industrial bent, seems to follow their current inspiration a bit more than the rest of the originals. Unfortunately, the mediocrity it brings shows that the band might not do much better following their current desires.
Am I biased? Perhaps a little, but in the case of the Sepultura name we’re all biased to a certain extent, and even a legitimate line-up couldn’t get me to listen to this again once the review posts. There is undoubtedly far worse out there, and very little of Kairos is outright offensive, but it’s just fucking boring man, and that can’t be stressed enough. Regardless of what name is on that album art, this is wrongly-executed primitive metal being played by a band that has long since lost all inspiration to do more than grasp at the past. Kairos is so fucking vanilla that you’ll expect a soda jerk to top it with sprinkles and hot fudge sauce.
In other words…
Sepultura? More like Sepul-DULL-ra.
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