Thirty Years Ago, Sepultura Changed the Formula with Chaos A.D.


The beginning of this month marked a major milestone for thrash and groove metal giants Sepultura. Even though the lineup isn’t what it used to be, no one can take away the fact that it’s now been thirty years since the Brazilian outfit shook up the metal scene by finding more groove and new rhythms with the release of the angry and message-forward Chaos A.D. This brought the band into a new era.

Like many, I loved Arise. It was extremely heavy and super thrashy, just as Beneath the Remains was. Chaos A.D., however, while different in sonics and songwriting, was still loved and embraced right from the beginning. In fact, the videos that accompanied the singles really stood out and made us all take notice. For example, the video for the first single, “Refuse/Resist,” featured scenes of political unrest, turmoil in the streets, and citizens, quite frankly, refusing and resisting. This video was followed-up with another politically-tinged track, “Territory.”

“Territory” was about the battles and skirmishes over a pieces of land with multiple claims to it. What made many take notice was the fact that the band wasn’t getting preachy or taking sides in particular conflicts. Rather, the song was more a narrative and reflection of the fact that often these battles over land are focused on propaganda and other political devices that generally put the people last.

If “Territory” and “Refuse/Resist” wasn’t enough to get your social action juices flowing, the band also featured tracks about the role of big pharma in our lives (“Biotech is Godzilla”), and “Slave New World,” (written with Evan Seinfeld of Biohazard) which was about censorship and the efforts of many in the United States to place restrictions on art and music. “Amen” was about the tragedy of the Branch Davidians under David Koresh in Waco, Texas.

I still recall being shocked at some of the lyrics when I first heard these tracks. For example, the first time I heard “Biotech is Godzilla” I stood up and took notice as Max Cavalera boldly exclaims that biotech companies created the AIDS virus. Heavily influenced, apparently by discussions of conspiracy theories with Jello Biafra, it should be noted that there’s no evidence of any company creating the AIDS virus, but the point of the song was more about the influences that politicians and big industry had working together over many aspects of our daily lives.

The music itself really ushered in a larger appreciation for the band as they started to reel in metal fans who resided outside of the thrash scene. Though those who loved thrash didn’t turn their backs at all with the band’s new sound. It was still heavy. It was still raw. It was just a bit slower and with a lot more spice and groove than fans were accustomed to.

Much credit, of course, has to go to producer Andy Wallace as well as the band. Wallace was behind the mixing board for many stand out records in the early 90’s including Slayer’s Reign in Blood and the Rollins Band’s End of Silence. Seminal records for both of those bands. Not much of a surprise then that so many consider Chaos A.D. to be the apex of Sepultura’s creative output.

Thirty years have gone by and many will say that Chaos A.D. broke barriers both in terms of lyrics and style. The band took some serious risks with this record and it paid off handsomely. Here’s hoping that Max and Iggor decide to do a Chaos A.D. tour sometime soon.

Be sure to check out the Cavalera brothers pay homage to Sepultura’s earlier years live on tour and at the first ever Metal Injection Festival. Dates and links for tickets below.

Cavalera fall tour:
8/29 Albuquerque, NM @ Revel [Tickets]
8/31 Oklahoma City, OK @ Diamond Ballroom [Tickets]
9/1 Dallas, TX @ Granada Theater [Tickets]
9/2 New Orleans, LA @ House of Blues [Tickets]
9/3 Birmingham, AL @ Saturn [Tickets]
9/5 Covington, KY @ Madison Theatre [Tickets]
9/6 Knoxville, TN @ The Concourse [Tickets]
9/7 Danville, VA @ Blue Ridge Rock Fest [Tickets]
9/8 Columbus, OH @ The KING of CLUBS [Tickets]
9/9 Cave-In-Rock, IL @ Full Terror Open Air [Tickets]
9/10 St. Louis, MO @ Delmar Hall [Tickets]
9/12 Grand Junction, CO @ Mesa Theater [Tickets]
9/14 Tucson, AZ @ Rialto Theatre [Tickets]
9/15 Tempe, AZ @ The Marquee [Tickets]
9/16 Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory [Tickets] METAL INJECTION FESTIVAL
9/18 El Paso, TX @ RockHouse Bar & Grill [Tickets]
9/19 San Antonio, TX @ Aztec Theatre [Tickets]
9/20 Houston, TX @ House of Blues [Tickets]
9/21 Pensacola, FL @ Vinyl Music Hall [Tickets]
9/22 Orlando, FL @ Beacham Theater [Tickets]
9/23 Atlanta, GA @ Terminal West [Tickets]
9/25 Baltimore, MD @ Baltimore Soundstage [Tickets]
9/26 Sayreville, NJ @ Starland Ballroom [Tickets]
9/27 New York, NY @ Irving Plaza [Tickets]
9/28 Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club [Tickets]
9/29 Reading, PA @ Reverb [Tickets]
9/30 Pittsburgh, PA @ Mr. Smalls Theatre [Tickets]
10/1 Milwaukee, WI @ Turner Hall Ballroom [Tickets]
10/2 Minneapolis, MN @ Fine Line [Tickets]
10/5 Des Moines, IA @ Wooly’s [Tickets]
10/6 Omaha, NE @ Waiting Room [Tickets]
10/7 Denver, CO @ Oriental Theater [Tickets]
10/8 Salt Lake City, UT @ The Complex [Tickets]
10/10 Seattle, WA @ The Crocodile [Tickets]
10/11 Boise, ID @ Treefort Music Hall [Tickets]
10/12 Portland, OR @ Crystal Ballroom [Tickets]
10/14 Sacramento, CA @ Ace of Spades [Tickets]
10/15 San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall [Tickets]
10/17 Las Vegas, NV @ House of Blues [Tickets]
10/18 Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern [Tickets]

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