Sepultura - Dante XXI
15 songs (39'05")
Release year: 2006
Sepultura, SPV
Reviewed by Alex

I don’t know if this review is going to hold more credence if I told I am the last thing you can call a Sepultura fan. Somehow I never caught up with the band’s proto-death metal, rise to prominence with their modern brand of thrash, line-up crisis and fall from the popularity grace. I used to have a friend, so completely non-metal, but he was into Sepultura, Roots and before era, and he really tried to hook me with it, all to no avail.

With the preface like this, you will forgive me the lack of knowledge about the history tome which has “Sepultura” name on it. While more well-informed would’ve told you that Dante XXI is a comeback from oblivion, I am looking at it as my first rendezvous with the band I barely know. What is clear, however, to tackle Dante Alighieri The Divine Comedy is an ambitious undertaking tried by some before (Iced Earth on Burnt Offerings). I just recently read a book about the poet’s father and Dante himself, his exile and speculations that The Divine Comedy wasn’t about Hell – Purgatory – Paradise, but rather about some contemporary people from Florence whose images were so allegorically captured.

How would a straight-ahead metal-hardcore band reconcile their clear-cut style with the epic nature of the inspiration behind the album? Contrary to what I expected there are only a few moments on Dante XXI attempting to be grand, and quite regrettably so. Sepultura is not approaching Therion or Blind Guardian on the album trying to encompass the whole of The Divine Comedy, instead, apparently, picking single “episodes” and building their songs around them.

Leaving it to more devoted Sepultura followers to hail or diss I can hear a modern commercial thrashcore hybrid emanating out of Dante XXI. Dark riffing machine from Dark Woods of Error can shred much faster on the lead single Convicted in Life or Crown and Miter. With some electronic effects (Dark Woods of Error) or full of metallic distortion (City of Dis), I have some trouble accepting Andreas Kisser’s guitar tone. I appreciate the band tightness throughout the album, but their thrash tends to be quite droning, witness the first half of Ostia and especially Repeating the Horror. More cutting Bay area variety of False, with buzzing siren lead, gets my vote any day over nu-core hybrid of Fighting On with its atonal whine.

I could go on for a few paragraphs about American vocalist’s Derrick Green hardcore screams. Not that I like Max Cavalera/Soulfly any better, Sepultura decided they need Green’s edge and they are sticking to their guns. Definitely not my favorite style in metal, Derrick’s vocals are at least very legibly recorded and devoid of any ‘core related whimpers.

Fully realizing I could be in minority, the ostentatious moments on Dante XXI hit the sweet spot for me. Igor Cavalera delivers a couple of trademark percussion passages on the intro to Convicted in Life and the outro to Repeating the Horror. French horns sound so subliminal and crazy on Crown and Miter, and cause the total apocalyptic feeling of a brutal breakdown on False. That is what the band needed more of, in my modest humble opinion. How can people not be taken by out-of-nowhere beautiful violin/cello and piano break on Ostia? You want to get on the same plane with Dante, you need to go all out creating the ultimate Judgment Day feeling. As if to add to my argument, the band did just that on the closer Still Flame with chants, sitar-like string instruments and horns leading to the state of trance ripped apart by the spuzzcore vocal ending.

There is no doubt Sepultura is influential and deserves its place in the metal lore. Local legends in Brazil, the band did a lot to drawing into metal those kids who might have been eternally lost to music more accessible and less heavy, see my used-to-be friend above. The thrashcore style Sepultura played on Dante XXI is candid and that is probably going to draw those old fans back.

Killing Songs :
Second half of False, Ostia, Still Flame
Alex quoted 60 / 100
Jason quoted 70 / 100
Other albums by Sepultura that we have reviewed:
Sepultura - Quadra reviewed by Goat and quoted 75 / 100
Sepultura - Machine Messiah reviewed by Goat and quoted 70 / 100
Sepultura - The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be the Heart reviewed by Goat and quoted 70 / 100
Sepultura - Kairos reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Sepultura - Roots reviewed by Goat and quoted 74 / 100
To see all 13 reviews click here
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