Sunday, February 1, 2009

Review: Sepultura - A-Lex

Artist: Sepultura
Album: A-Lex
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
In a nutshell: A balls-out, Cavalera-free concept album

Sepultura. The Brazilian metal band that was formed by the Cavalera brothers and are now left with none of them. Does that make Sepultura irrelevant? Not by a mile.

The first Sepultura album without Igor Cavalera (who went off to form the uninteresting Cavalera Conspiracy with brother, Max) is a concept album centred one of my favourite books of all time, 'A Clockwork Orange' by Anthony Burgess (not the film adaptation). The title itself, 'A-Lex' both refers to the character Alex, and its pun in Russian that means 'without law.'

So yes, a character whose name suggests lawlessness sounds like a good, old source for no-nonsense metal inspiration. But does it work?

Yes and no.

Stretching to almost an hour, the album goes through the whole book in its entirety, from it's beginning ('Moloko Mesto') to the middle ('The Experiment') to the end ('Paradox'). The problem with most concept albums is how the grandness of the idea can lead to the music being flat out of constraint and control. For the most part, this is not the case in 'A-Lex.'

When you do a concept album about 'A Clockwork Orange,' it is almost a crime to leave out Beethoven's Ninth. This is where the song 'Ludwig Van' comes in. It is a peculiar re-imagination of one of Ludwig Van's most famous symphonies, and accompanied with an orchestra, it borders on the ridiculous, but it is never dull. Whether you see it as a creative re-working or a ludicrous cover might depend on whether you see this as a genuine tribute or an unnecessary gimmick.

People who has never read the book but have seen the film might wonder why I emphasised the fact that this was based on the book, not the film. Surely they convey the same ideas? Well, not exactly. The film left out a vital chapter in the book that changes the whole motive of the book (unless you're reading the edited US version). The last chapter in the original discusses free will and desire for peace of mind as equally innate as violence itself.

This is raw thrash metal, but that never means it is sloppy. This is a precise exercise in providing a fresh serving of metal that can still excite, even without the Cavalera brothers.

Signing out

Over and out

Now playing: Sepultura - Conform
via FoxyTunes

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