Sepultura – Sepulquarta (Album Review)

Sepultura - Sepulquarta

Sepultura – Sepulquarta 
Released: August 13th, 2021

Line Up: 

Derrick Green | Vocals
Andreas Kisser | Guitars
Paulo Xisto | Bass
Eloy Casagrande | Drums



Before the pandemic hit, Sepultura released one of their best albums in years – Quadra. A mix of their core thrash sound with more progressive elements, it was a great release that deserved a full tour to showcase the power of songs like ‘Isolation’ and ‘Raging Void’. Of course, the global health crisis interfered with those plans. Rather than just sit around doing some online shopping, the band began to do a podcast with online Q&A, eventually inviting their friends to join them for an online jam. The resulting series of collaborations across the year, all recorded from their homes, has led to a new Sepultura album of old songs. Sepulquarta is a compilation in which the band revisit their back catalogue and songs from Quadra, with a little help from their friends. 

One of the things that immediately stands out is that frontman Derrick Green gets to dig in and offer his now longstanding (since 1998!) interpretation of Sepultura classics. Despite their name value, David Ellefson (ex-Megadeth) and Scott Ian (Anthrax) don’t add a ton to ‘Territory’ or ‘Cut Throat’, nor does Sacred Reich’s Phil Rind on ‘Inner Self.’ The songs slay because they are killer songs, and Derrick’s throaty growl sounds right at home after years of listening to the Max Cavalera versions. Fairing better is the new versions of ‘Hatred Aside’ and ‘Sepulnation’, both originally from early in Derrick’s tenure. I’ve always enjoyed ‘Hatred Aside’, originally a duet with then Metallica bassist Jason Newstead, and the addition of three metal goddesses really gives it a lift. Fernanda Lira (Crypta, ex-Nervosa), Angélica Burns (Hatefulmurder) and Mayara Puertas (Torture Squad) all add their unique shrieks to the verses before enhancing the melodic tribal section. Danko Jones likewise really gets to rock out on ‘Sepulnation’, one of the tracks I would say is now better than the original recording, a combination of Jones’ enthusiasm and the band’s uptempo version honed over years of playing it live.

In the more interesting category are the songs from more recent Sepultura albums. Compiled here alongside classics, they get their own chance to show what they add to the Sepultura cannon. Emmily Barreto (Far From Alaska) adds her melodic rock vocals to ‘Fear, Chaos, Pain, Suffering’, giving it a haunted, gothic feel that really stands out from the thrash tracks. Similarly, Testament’s Alex Skolnick gets to shred on 2017’s ‘Vandals Nest’ and appears to be having a blast playing with Sepul-peers. Another highlight is Devin Townsend joining the band for ‘Mask’, giving the track a healthy kicking with his unique vocal approach and guitar shredding. 

Some of the tracks are just a riot – Matthew K Heafy (Trivium) throws down with Green on ‘Slave New World’ (a song Trivium previously covered in full), while Death Angel’s Rob Cavestany gets to lay down leads on ‘Apes of God’, a song largely forgotten from Roorback (2003) that is given some respect on this release. The version of 1989’s ‘Slaves of Pain’ also goes hard and fast with help from Kreator bassist Frederic LeClercq and Krozus vocalist Marcello Pompeu. Most of these are faithful renditions with the semi live nature of recordings adding the energy. ‘Phantom Self’ likewise gets a lift from Periphery guitarist Mark Holcomb gets to jam with some icons, but it is very much a jam on the album version, rather than a reinvention or collaboration that draws on Periphery’s sound (the synth is from the album version). 

Where they take a chance is on legendary Brazilan drummers Joao Barone & Charles Gavin who add their percussive flair to a wild version of ‘Ratamahatta’. The “drum off” solos are awesome and had me wondering why this hasn’t been more of a thing on past albums. Kudos to Andreas for finally getting his vocals committed to tape after 25 years of adding vox to live versions. ‘Kaiowas’ is also enhanced with world renowned Brazilian guitarist Rafael Bittencourt dueting with Kisser for four minutes. Stripped of it’s percussion, it becomes a really lovely track in stark contrast to the metal bombardment of everything else. It embraces their cultural roots in a way that the other versions don’t and really uses the musicians they’re collaborating with to push their song into a different direction. 

Sepulquarta isn’t an essential release, but like a lot of material recorded in the last 12 months, it seizes the moment and uses technology to put out something a bit different and spontaneous. The closing track ‘Orgasmatron’, the sole cover here, is a great example. Grabbing ex-Motorhead guitarist Phil Campbell to add the actual Motorhead guitar tone to Sepultura’s long standing (back to the Max era) version of the song isn’t necessary but it’s still fun. Kind of like having a jam to end the encore at a live gig. The album has a good vibe, an inspired tracklisting that isn’t just the same old, and plenty of good will from the band and their collaborators. 

Now to put on Quandra again. 

Sepultura – Sepulquarta tracklisting

  1. Territory (feat. David Ellefson) 
  2. Cut Throat (feat. Scott Ian) 
  3. Sepulnation (feat. Danko Jones) 
  4. Inner Self (feat. Phil Rind) 
  5. Hatred Aside (feat. F. Lira, A. Burns, M. Puertas) 
  6. Mask (feat. Devin Townsend) 
  7. Fear, Pain, Chaos, Suffering (feat. Emmily Barreto) 
  8. Vandals Nest (feat. Alex Skolnick) 
  9. Slave New World (feat. Matthew K. Heafy) 
  10. Ratamahatta (feat. Joao Barone & Charles Gavin) 
  11. Apes of God (feat. Rob Cavestany) 
  12. Phantom Self (feat. Mark Holcomb) 
  13. Slaves of Pain (feat. Fred Leclercq & Marcello Pompeu) 
  14. Kaiowas (feat. Rafael Bittencourt) 
  15. Orgasmatron (feat. Phil Campbell) 

Rating: 6.5/10 [Fans will dig it]
Sepulquandra is out August 13th, 2021 on Nuclear Blast Records. Listen here
Review By – KJ Draven (Twitter). Instagram: @kjdraven

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