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Don’t Sleep on Sepultura’s Machine Messiah

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This past Friday, Sepultura released Machine Messiah, their fourteenth (!) studio album, and eighth since splitting with original frontman Max Cavalera in 1996. Other than the singles, “I Am the Enemy” and “Phantom Self,” I didn’t hear any of the record prior to its release, despite having an advance copy. I hesitate to say the metal world has come to take Sepultura for granted, because their work in the post-Cavalera era has been a mixed bag… but whatever one notch below “taken for granted” would be, that’s where Sepultura are at.

In other words, I didn’t rush to listen to Machine Messiah because I wasn’t that impressed by the singles and I assumed that Machine Messiah would probably be about as good as every Sepultura album since 2006’s Dante XXI… which is to say, it would be fine but ultimately slight.

I assumed incorrectly.

Machine Messiah feels like the culmination of everything Sepultura have done in the past twenty years, and is undoubtedly the strongest album they’ve ever made with Cavalera’s successor, Derrick Green (to say nothing of current drummer Eloy Casagrande). This band has never shied away from expanding their sound, and there’s certainly been material to reflect that on all of their most recent releases. But Machine Messiah kicks shit up to the next level: the album is more diverse than a United Colors of Benetton ad.

The title track is a cinematic intro that sounds like something Machine Head would write. “Iceberg Dances” is instrumental prog. “Sworn Oath” is melodeath.”Phantom Self” is deathcore.”Alethea” is Meshuggahcore. “Resistant Parasite” starts off as a metalcore song and then turns into some Death Cult Armageddon-style shit. Every now and then, there are some tribal-sounding percussions to remind you this is (technically) the same band that made Roots. Only a handful of tracks, like “I Am the Enemy” and “Vandals Nest,” are traditional Sepulturian deathrash.

What’s more, the band basically pulls off all these different styles. Even those singles I wasn’t that into before? Within the the context of the album, they work, like, a thousand times better.

Okay, so Machine Messiah sags a little towards the end. But it never buckles all the way. If the album isn’t quite Sepultura’s Worship Music, it’s at least their We’ve Come for You All — the record that makes the band seem formidable for the first time in a long time. Don’t make the mistake I almost made. Don’t skip it.

Machine Messiah is out now on Nuclear Blast. Stream it below. Buy it here.

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