Sepultura – Chaos A.D. (1993)
“I don’t think we should imitate the West; I think we should have our own thing,” Sepultura frontman Max Cavalera says to Sam Dunn during an interview in the desert in “Global Metal.”
His statement rings powerfully true on “Chaos A.D.,” with Sepultura’s overt Brazilian influences coming to the forefront of their special brand of thrash metal. Tribal instruments and rhythms make memorable appearances, and they contribute to a wonderful, infectious energy throughout the record.
Drummer Igor Cavalera could be the MVP of this album; his percussion efforts, however they were tracked, sound huge. You can clearly hear each individual rapid-fire hit of the tom-toms. This relatively loud mix fits right in with Sepultura’s monumental riffs and Max’s Third World growl to create the signature sound of Brazilian metal. In fact, it was this album that marked Sepultura’s transition from a talented-but-straightforward thrash metal group with a lot of potential to the pioneers of “world metal.”
3. Slave New World
7. Biotech Is Godzilla
9. We Who Are Not As Others
11. The Hunt
12. Clenched Fist
Not only was “Chaos A.D.,” Sepultura’s most successful album to date at the time, it is also one of their most political. “Refuse/Resist” tells of the ravages of war, while “Manifest” addresses the brutality of the Sao Paulo Police (apparently they massacred 200 inmates in a raid on a prison in October 1992). Graphic black and white photos of both themes fill the album jacket along with this dedication for the song “Kaiowas”:
“This song is inspired by the Brasilian Indian tribe called ‘Kaiowas,’ who live in the rainforest. They committed mass suicide as a protest against the government, who was trying to take away their land and beliefs.”
As the first three songs on this album are acknowledged Sepultura classics, I was a bit concerned about a dip in quality after “Slave New World” ended, but that was emphatically not the case, as “Amen” seamlessly keeps the energy up. The themes of dystopia and the seedy underbelly of the modern world are well explored here (as you can see from the cover, depicting a mummified man at the mercy of the inhuman machines).
As of this time of writing, violent protests rock Sepultura’s home country, showing that the truth of their observations did not stop with the 1990s. Perhaps because the members of Sepultura have experienced that clash of the modern world so directly and explicitly in their home country of Brazil, they are able to write about them so effectively. But Sepultura has shown that this struggle can be overcome with inner strength and defiance, as they send off their fans with the below greeting in the album jacket:
“Thank you to all our fans and friends, from Jakarta to Moscow!….Fuck off: envious, trendy, fake, racist people. Believe in yourself!”
4 / 5
Written by Matt P