The 25 Most Important Metal Bands of the ’90s: #18, Sepultura

  • Axl Rosenberg

The ’90s: they were the bomb! That’s why MetalSucks will spend the month of March giving snaps to the decade that was all that and a bag of chips by counting down The 25 Most Important Metal Bands of the ’90s. These aren’t bands that necessarily formed in the ’90s, nor are they bands that would turn out to be influential somewhere down the road; these are bands that a) were doing their best work in the ’90s, and b) amassed a devout following during the ’90s. These are the bands that we feel truly defined the decade for extreme music. These are the bands that we feel truly defined the decade for yo mama.

Sepultura are, by any measuring stick, one of the most revered bands in metal’s history, and the early/mid ’90s was definitely when they were operating at the peak of their creative powers. Between 1989 and 1996, they released the four albums that are largely considered to be their best: Beneath the RemainsAriseChaos A.D., and Roots (the last of which I really don’t like, but I recognize what an impact it had on the metal community at large). Putting out so many records of such great significance in so short a time period placed Sepultura in a rarefied strata of legendary metal acts like Metallica, Iron Maiden, and Slayer…

…all of whom, it’s worth noting, had already completed their own winning streaks by the time Chaos A.D. came out in ’93, if not sooner. Which helps explain why their following was so incredibly passionate: there was a moment in time when Sepultura were arguably the best metal band in the world.

Furthermore, Sepultura acted as a bridge from thrash to death metal. Remains and Arise were both made with Morrisound’s Scott Burns, the dude who produced most, if not all, of everyone’s favorite Floridian death metal albums from this same period — and that didn’t seem at all weird. But Megadeth fans could still get down with Sepultura, too, whereas they may have found bands like Death to be a bit too extreme for their tastes. Sepultura were one of the first bands I remember anyone referring to as “deathrash,” and were almost certainly a death metal gateway drug for plenty of fans.

How mind-blowing were Sepultura in the ’90s? All four members of the band’s classic line-up — Max and Igor Cavalera, Andreas Kisser, and Paulo Jr. — have basically coasted on that work ever since. Even at their best, post-Cavalera Sepultura and Soulfly never matched the sky high quality levels of those four albums. Still — again, as is largely the case for bands like Metallica and Slayer — we’ve all continued to follow them religiously. That’s not a given in metal; it’s the result of writing anthems as massively respected as “Refuse/Resist,” “Arise,” and “Roots Bloody Roots.”

In short: the ’90s were Sepultura’s jam, the period for which its members will always be remembered. If only it could have lasted forever.

#25: Morbid Angel
#24: Melvins

#23: Meshuggah
#22: Emperor

#21: Cave In
#20: Botch
#19: Cradle of Filth

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