Review: Sepultura – “Kairos” (Nuclear Blast Records)

SEPULTURA is back with their long awaited new album Kairos. The band has seen many ups and downs since Max Cavalera quit the band following the Roots album in 1996. In spite of a public war of words, mostly instigated by Max the band has soldiered on valiantly. They have released album after album of challenging and interesting metal. Even after losing a second Cavalera brother (Igor) a few years ago, the band has remained consistent and resolute. Some people will just never accept them without the founding brothers, but the truth is they have earned the right to keep the name alive. As proven by their recent American tour, they are not just interested playing the classic hits (which they played immaculately well), but they are still moving the sound of the band forward while keeping true to the name.

The meaning of Kairos comes from ancient Greek which basically marks a special, transformative moment in time. Right from the jamming opening riff of “Spectrum” the SEPULTURA we know an love announced it is back and in full effect. Tribal drumming, thrash riffs, terrible haunting growls and insane guitar solos all show up early on the record. Front man Derrick Green has long found a comfort zone with his gravely delivery and as usual he is at home in the pocket of madness. Andres Kisser continues to churn out great riff after great riff, proving over time to be Max’s equal in that department.”Kairos” is every bit as aggressive and evil as anything going back to the Chaos A.D. days. In addition to Kisser’s manic riffs, drummer Jean Dolabella has fully stepped to the plate and replaced Igor at the drum throne. Yes, I just said replaced. His drum performance is incredible and he deserves a lot of credit for putting a fresh take on the drum sound without losing the quality the fans expect. Another crusher of a song is “Relentless”. Again, if you loved the classic late 1980’s to the early 1990’s sound of the band this song is right in your wheelhouse. Chugging rhythms and screaming vocals with uplifting lyrics about payback galore can be found here. The solo is also amazing. A curious mid-album cover of MINISTRY’s “Just One Fix” is well done and faithful to the original except the meaner vocals. I just might have put it at the end of the album is all I’m saying. Other songs like “Mask” and “Seethe” just kill and are on par with recent releases from SLAYEREXODUS and TESTAMENT in the modern old-school thrash department. As usual bassist Paulo Sixto Pinto Jr. holds down the bass well, occasionally stepping up to shine in little ways. The fact that Green no longer plays guitar in the band says as much about Pinto Jr. as it does Kisser regarding the sound of the band. Other top tracks are “Born Strong” and “No One Will Stand”. The bonus track version of the album has a cool metal cover of “Firestarter” by THE PRODIGYSEPULTURA is back so please throw your horns and bow down in respect because you are not worthy.

RATING: 9.5 / 10
By: Keith “Keefy” Chachkes
Band Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sepultura

Review: Toxic Holocaust – “Conjure and Conquer” (Relapse Records)

It’s been over ten years since Joel Grind spawned TOXIC HOLOCAUST out of the pacific northwest (Portland). In that time he was the forerunner of much of the crust punk/neo-thrash that you hear so many bands churn out ceaselessly and with zero flavor today. Plenty of things should have made him give up his dream of making it, but he never did. Joel paid no attention to fads with his D.I.Y. attitude and his love of metal and forged forward, undeterred. While all of the imitators (and a few legitimately talented bands) and johnny-come-lately’s dumped their albums on the blind masses, he didn’t fold. He continued to refine his songwriting, solidified his lineup after years of rotating casts and put out some great records building up to where he is today. Now with Conjure and Command ready to drop, Joel has fulfilled his potential and promise in spades.

First track “Judgment Awaits You” is a blistering slab of thrash and death with a hint of hardcore too. Grind‘s vocals in particular are sicker than ever before and the beautifully raw production (no triggers, no protools) sounds classically awesome. The de facto title track is next in “Agony of the Damned”. The song has some of the best riffs you will hear on a record this year. Waves of crust punk-style blitzkrieg drums pound away while blackened death sounding chords choke your ears. The breakdown is pure SABBATH-ian inspired heaven to my old ears. “Bitch” has the fierceness of old school punk (think COC) and the riffage of push thrash metal. I even hear a lot of Dave Mustaine’s snarling sarcasm lyrically in Grind, who isn’t afraid to let his many influences fly. One of the great things about this band is even when they pick a topic you’ve heard before (witches) the lyrics are always very smart and original. The half-time feel in the middle section is gonna be the soundtrack to a lot of broken bones when it gets played live. “Red Winter” is another slamming track full of speed metal and angry punk fire. In the persons of bassist Phil Zeller and drummer Nikki BellmoreGrind has finally found the musicians who can match him in hostility, talent and performance. “No Where To Run” is another track you will swear was written in 1985. Unlike many of the people and bands that followed in his footsteps, Grind has a knack for making the old-school riff sound fresh and new. I hope they play this song live because the chorus part is humongous! Sinister songs like “I Am Disease” mesh beautifully with thrash monsters like “In the Depths of Your Mind”  and “The Liars are Burning“.  Wrapping things up with the equally strong “Revelations” and “Sound the Charge”, the album files in as one of the years’ best yet top to bottom. When listening to this album in your headphones, car or home jam box, never forget that you should never underestimate one pissed off guys’ determination to make it using the power of metal and a ton of confidence.

RATING: 10 / 10
By: Keith “Keefy” Chachkes
Band Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ToxicHolocaust

Review: 18 Wheels of Justice – “Execution” (DIY)

The ranks of the Boston metal scene are crowded with talent these days. There are many contenders for the throne in our fair city and it seems like talented new bands are sprouting up all of the time. One underrated band is 18 WHEELS OF JUSTICE. On their newly released second album Execution they are serving notice to everybody that they have their eyes on the prize.

Following the first few strains of “Last Man Standing” waves of blazing modern thrash riffs are unleashed. Combined with death metal and hardcore vocalizing, this is a potent combination. Adam Sloan has an otherworldly high scream and low guttural vocals that call to mind the best of the genre. His performance is savage and you feel his lyrical hatred and loathing on every song. The speedy tempos and alternating head nodding, half-time parts call to mind classic EXODUS and SLAYER moods. Drummer Sam Pothier in particular makes a lot of these times shifts possible with his fierce beats. Lead guitarist Steve Abajolie lets loose with the first of his many tasty leads. Particularly deep structure wise, the song changes guises many times; from circle-pit inciter to sing along arena metal glory and more. Most bands wouldn’t make this song the opener due to its length and I applaud their balls to do so. “Blood Red Soil” starts off a bit slower, but is no less heavy with lots of double kicks punctuated by Conor Anastasia’s strong bass work. Then more old-school riffs pop up again and the tempo is impossibly fast once more. Between Abajolie and rhythm guitarist Todd Harris they seem to have an endless stream of catchy licks churning out and that is after just two songs. Another excellent drum performance highlights “Drug War”, one of the albums top tracks. The beats here are just insane and sound so hard hitting and tight you might think its not human for a second. The slower hardcore riffs will call to mind middle-era PANTERA and their in-state brethren like SHADOWS FALL and REVOCATION. The PANTERA influence is abundant this many tracks, especially in the vocals and lead guitar work. Other tracks I really enjoyed are “Thrashole”, “Idolatry”, the beautiful instrumental “Open Sky” and “Proving Ground”. They are not only stylistically in the house with all of the neo-thrash and modern metal bands, but may separate themselves from the pack a bit due to the vocals. These guys have stepped up big time.

RATING: 8 / 10
By: Keith “Keefy” Chachkes
Band Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/18WheelsOfJustice