For some reason, I seem to be the go-to reviewer for anything Sepultura-related here at AMG. This is a pretty unrewarding “honor,” given that the band has been releasing underwhelming albums for many years now (and don’t even get me started on Max Cavalera’s various projects). The band’s latest record Machine Messiah is their fourteenth overall, and marks their first collaboration with celebrated Swedish producer Jens Bogren (Opeth, Katatonia, Fates Warning).

Title track “Machine Messiah” opens the record with an almost trad-metal clean guitar intro, reminiscent of something Metallica or Testament would’ve done back in the day. This leads into some plodding groove riffery and, eventually, some baritone clean vocals from frontman Derrick Green. While not terrible, the song is pretty low-energy and sounds nothing like any iteration of Sepultura, making it an odd choice for an opener. This is quickly rectified by the speedy hardcore of “I Am The Enemy,” which sounds like one of the fast songs from Roots or Chaos A.D., but with a few blastbeats thrown in courtesy of recently-added drummer Eloy Casagrande.

Per usual, Sepultura grabs at seemingly random bits of other musical genres, like that claw machine down at the laundromat. The claw picks up power metal cheese on the instrumental “Iceberg Dances,” orchestral accompaniment on “Sworn Oath,” and off-timey Meshuggahisms on closer “Cyber God.” (Side note: the word “cyber” should be retired from use by any band that is not Fear Factory.) Green’s lyrics on “Phantom Self” about loss of identity are sadly appropriate, as he delivers them over Brazilian samba drumming and screechy synths. Granted, there are a couple of token “faster” tracks, “Silent Violence” and “Vandal’s Nest,” but it feels like the band’s collective heart isn’t in it. As always, Sepultura‘s forays into uncharted waters are brave, and sometimes yield interesting combinations of sounds, but the resulting album is anything but cohesive.

It is equal parts fascinating and frustrating to observe how faceless Sepultura has become in recent times. These guys can sound like a completely different band from record to record, depending on who’s producing it and what mood Andreas Kisser is in. In this case, Kisser delivers the most conservative, ’80s-metal performance of his career. I’m honestly impressed that he can shred to this extent, but the playing lacks the rough edges that are his calling card. Casagrande’s presence still feels odd too, despite this being his third album with the band. He’s a fantastic technical drummer, but when you’re replacing one of the most iconic percussionists in all of metal, fancy footwork alone is not going to cut it. Bogren’s mix is pretty heavy-handed as well, minimizing the band’s sonic signature in favor of his own. This results in 45 minutes of music that bears little resemblance to even Sepultura‘s last album, much less their early ’90s heyday.

While Sepultura‘s willingness to evolve is admirable, their evolution has mostly occurred via loss of band members and haphazard appropriation of other musical styles. Machine Messiah is certainly ambitious and even progressive at times, but the net result is still as unsatisfying as the band’s last few records. I still maintain that Derrick Green-era Sepultura has yet to top 2006’s Dante XXI, which took a similar route but had the riffs and songwriting to back it up. However, for those who are on board with the band’s recent output, Machine Messiah should provide at least a few worthwhile curiosities.


Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR:6 | Format Reviewed: VBR mp3
Label:Nuclear Blast
Websites: sepultura.com.br | facebook.com/sepultura
Releases Worldwide: January 13, 2017

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  • Zach Ward

    The only album I’ve ever enjoyed from sepultura is Beneath the Remains. Everything else has been largely forgettable

    • Jrod1983

      Agreed. Although Arise had its moments as well.

    • Andrew Rowland

      Am I the only Choas A.D. fan here? Godzilla….. Rawr?…. Come on, that was fun!

      • Chaos A.D. was one of the first metal albums I ever owned and I still enjoy it. Maybe it’s nostalgia but I maintain that it’s a damned good album.
        Roots, on the other hand, has only like 3 good songs and everyone but me thinks it’s great.

      • Chaos A.D. was their last good album. Everything earlier (Chaos B.C. ?) was awesome. The last good song was Roots Bloody Roots, the opener of Roots. There’s my two cents.

        • Jason A. Martin

          I disagree. People say “Sepultura doesn’t know how to sound anymore”, yet “Roots” was Max copying Korn. If anything, the albums from Dante and up are harkening back go the legendary thrash/doom albums they released early in their career, with prog and hardcore elements added.

      • Jason A. Martin

        I doubt it, since Chaos AD is probably their most popular album overall.

    • tito

      Schizophrenia was good, too! But Beneath the remains is their masterpiece I think, so yeah.

    • DIMENSIONAL BLEEDTHROUGH

      Schizophrenia’s my favorite.

  • AndySynn

    I agree that they still haven’t managed to top “Dante XXI”, but I must admit, I do like this whole not giving two fucks version of Sepultura. It’s often messy, and more than a little weird, but I enjoy seeing them just do whatever the hell they feel like, without desperately clinging to past glories or constantly trying to prove how “Metal” they are like some people (naming no names).

    It does seem a little wrong to suggest that their hearts aren’t in it though… when they were doing “Against” and “Nation”… THAT felt like they were going through the motions. Whereas you don’t take some of the weird chances and risks they’ve done on their last few albums unless you REALLY want to!

    • Dr_Fisting

      I meant that they weren’t really into the faster/”thrash” songs on this album. They’re obviously very much into the risky weird shit they’ve been doing lately.

      • AndySynn

        Ah. Misinterpretation on my part there. Apologies!

  • Reese Burns

    All of Cavelara’s projects just blend into one generic blob of sound for me (Excluding Killer be Killed, which I rather enjoy).

  • NELSON

    Machine Messiah sounds brutal, hardcore, groove, metalhead everywhere. The work of Casagrande is sensational there are rhythms of the real metal clinging skillfully to the new disc. The voice of Green is the seal of the current Sepultura, the oriental rhythms, everything is very SEPULTURA. The days of Arise and Chaos A.D will not return

    • Serjien

      You are absolutely right! I feel like people still expect them to come out with something sounding like the old days, but in reality they have been a different band for quite sometime!

      • That expectation came and went a long time ago. The problem is that even accounting for stylistic changes, the band is still putting out shit records.

        As a counter example, Paradise Lost successfully experimented with different styles, and whilst there will always be that guy screaming for a song off Lost Paradise, most of the band’s fans have accepted the band’s changes over time and their expectations have changed as well.

        If Sepultura put out a good record that sounded nothing like Arise, then I would be happy for myself as a fan and happy for that band. Unfortunately, we’ve been waiting a long time now.

        • Serjien

          Agreed! I failed to mention that just because they are a different band, it doesn’t mean that they have released anything good since the “change”.

  • Alexandre Barata

    I admit it was one of the first times I listened to a Sepultura post-Arise album and it wasn’t a complete waste of my time. It’s not an album on my to-buy list, and I will forget it soon, but I could listen to the whole thing without cutting musics in half.

  • Jason Muxlow

    Someone needs to stop sending you Sepultura albums. This is a fantastic album. Better than the last few (which were still solid) and arguably better than Dante XXI.

    • Scott Chrismon

      If someone handed you this disc without you knowing anything about Sepultura (blind metal taste test) more than likely you would think it was astonishingly good. I have not followed Sepultura for many years but am a die hard metalhead and this shit is great. Production is crushing.

  • antitayyip

    a black guy in a extreme metal band!? i could take this when we speak about Threshold..i want to see him in Amon Amarth

    • If you will, Terrance Hobbs would like a word.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        And Mike Smith… and we’re only talking Suffocation.

        • DIMENSIONAL BLEEDTHROUGH

          And whatshisname from Blasphemy. Let’s not forget Black Death, Iron Man (the doom band), Death (the Detroit band), Pure Hell, Bad Brains…

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            And some dude from Seatle named Jimi Hendrix who supossedly influenced some Metal guitarists.

          • DIMENSIONAL BLEEDTHROUGH

            And, of course, Thin Lizzy.

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            Thin Lizzy! The most underrated band ever!

        • Reese Burns

          I’m like 90% sure the singer dude from Sevendust was black too, right?

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            I don’t know much about Sevendust… But I googled them and you can change that 90% up to 100%

  • Tyr

    Going to have to disagree here. I found the new album to be the best thing since the old days. And I’ve hated the Green era.

    • Baax Brewing

      I agree, I think they have been putting dross for years but this is pretty enjoyable.

  • R.Daneel Olivaw
    • Dead1

      That picture describes the album pretty well.

  • Fenderxx

    I wasn’t too excited by the singles.. but, I do feel that the record as a whole works really well. I freaking love the instrumental “Iceberg Dances” and the experimentation pays off. Would be a 3.5 for me personally, but I have enjoyed all Sepultura albums to some degree over the years.

  • beurbs

    dammit jens why u loud again

  • Kisser has been toning down his solos ever since Chaos A.D., but was always able to shred and is on a par with thrash peers such as Tim Calvert and Dan Spitz in terms of technical ability. I mean, just listen to Schizophrenia, Beneath the Remains or Arise. Damn.

  • EnslavedEld73

    I’m an old guy. I saw Sepultura the first time in ’91, years before Chaos AD came out. And then a second time years later at a violent show in Detroit. So obviously the early records are the ones that move me. I haven’t really paid attention to the later years, but I found Machine Messiah to be fun. Even if Max and Igor were still in sepultura, they still wouldn’t be putting out Arise pt. II, they just don’t write like that anymore. So I don’t entirely agree with the review, there are some memorable parts and the singer sounds like he means it. If you want to hear the new version of Beneath the Remains you will have to find it elsewhere. There is a band in a country somewhere that is writing some crazy songs in that style, and maybe no one knows about them except their friends, family, and tortured neighbors.

  • Wilhelm

    This is bullshit metal, they lost me with Roots and their korn craze, beginning of the end.

  • El Lado Oscuro

    Thanks for the review but I disagree. This is a decent record, prolly better than generally expected. I would suggest to give it a chance

  • madhare

    I think the biggest problem is that they’re still called Sepultura. There’s zero connection to “the band which was once known as Sepultura”.*

    As it is a new band they should have a new name. And then there wouldn’t be the problem that they don’t sound like old Sepultura.

    Of course, it’s probably all about just selling shitloads of records simply because it comes under the “Sepultura sticker”. …which actually isn’t very metal, if you think about it. :D (It’s like the metal music’s version of Transformers 5. Done simply because it guarantees X amount of revenue for the producers.)

    Because without that sticker… would anybody really pay lot of attention to this band?

  • Underwhelming albums for many years. Check.
    Don’t even get me started on Cavalera’s projects. Check.
    Based on the ingress; finally a Sepultura review I can trust!

    The song Phantom Self has a nice exotic whiff of extreme Orphaned Land, though. Perhaps “getting” the new Sepultura requires rejecting all previous impressions and existing expectations first? Not an easy act, though.

  • hallowed

    I am also in the disagree camp. I find this album really enjoyable.

    And this is Casagrande’s second album with the band. Dolabella played on Kairos.

    • Dr_Fisting

      You are correct; I forgot there was another drummer in between.

  • Robert Turnbull

    Hmm…actually quite enjoying the embedded track.

  • Scott Chrismon

    I think it’s fucking great. There is maybe one or two tracks that are just ok. It’s refreshing to hear a band reach out a little and experiment with styles. I personally don’t want the same ol (Slayer) shit over and over….
    4 out of 5. Best post Max album. BTW.. Jens Bogren’s production of fucking stellar.ImI

  • Jeffrey Dean

    Disagree here as well. This is my favorite Sepultura album since Arise. The leads rip and the experimentation all clicks with me. I was not expecting this to be any good at all, but it completely surprised me.

  • Brian

    From the post-Cavalera era I have ‘A-lex’, ‘Kairos’ and ‘Mediator…’. They are not bad and at times quite good. One thing I’ve noticed, however, is a concerted and, perhaps, misguided effort among metal fans as a whole to ‘like’ this version of Sepultura more and more since ‘Kairos’. Prior to this, everyone was clamouring for a reunion because there was the presumption that it could still work. With Max’s recent antics and poor quality live shows, however, that hope seems to have fully disintegrated. So it seems to me that a lot of fans are trying to convince themselves that the current lineup of Sepultura is really all that when, in reality, what Mr. Fisting has written is very accurate when taken in the cold light of day and when rose-tinted lenses have been taken off. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with people liking what the band is currently putting out IF you genuinely do like it. If you’re trying to convince yourself that it’s up to the level of the classics with Max just because it’s the ‘done thing’ or because Max has been gone for 20 years now and they deserve a break, well, I have no time for that. The music should do all the talking, lest we find ourselves in Anvil territory again.

  • h_f_m

    I’m digging the embedded track as well. I might have to pick this up, I actually didn’t expect to give it much thought after reading the score because I would pretty much slap that score on much of what Sep has recently done IMO. I expected to dislike it and move on. That embedded track is pretty damn good.

  • Here’s Johnny

    I think this album is as good as Dante and has a better production(of course). I’d say this is a 3.5.

    It is better than Repentless/Hardwired, although i know thats not saying much but i think Bogren has made them more focused on this record. I do think it is the most satisfying record from the Derrick era actually.

  • herrschobel

    Thanks for your Thoughts, though i disagree. Listenend to the whole thing while painting… with my kids playing nearby on the other side of the Room…we all enjoyed it…the Organ ? ye !!!! they seem to have fun so i can´t agree on “how facless Sepultura has become” .. the shredding is part of that…the Vocals are spot on and the Experiments work…very solid Release…the review reads a bit like the Lament of a disappointed Lover … Sepultura ( ‘Benath the Remains’ to be exact ) was THE Extreme Metal awakenig in my Youth and i forgive them everything :-) … this works on it´s own…Sepultura or not..now prost !

  • DeathApeDisco

    This album completely rocks, think the reviewer’s crazy.