SEPULTURA - A-Lex
A-Lex, the already eleventh album by the legendary Brazilian thrashers, is their first effort ever without any of the Cavalera brothers involved. Founding member Paulo Jr on the bass guitar and guitarist Andreas Kisser who’s been a band member for over twenty years already are joined by new drummer Jean Dolabella and vocalist Derrick Green whose also already more than ten years with the band and has amply proved that he is an impeccable frontman.
Like on the predecessor Dante XXI, Sepultura have once again come up with a concept. This time, they interpret Anthony Burgess’ cult novel A Clockwork Orange which has been made into a seminal movie in the early Seventies, and yet Sepultura are not the first rock band to have a take at this material. German punk rockers Die Toten Hosen had their breakthrough with Ein kleines bisschen Horrorschau twenty years earlier.
The thing with concept albums is: they are either really great or just don’t manage to fulfil expectations. And although A-Lex is anything but a weak album, its setup consisting of many fierce thrash songs, four instrumental interludes, a few longer and more brooding pieces and even a classical interpretation of a Beethoven symphony eventually leave the listener a bit confused, making one wonder if a collection of ten regular size tracks would not have given the whole thing more accessibility.
It seems that from early on, Sepultura want to overwhelm their audience with their indisputable versatility. After an intro, the two minute thrasher Moloko Mesto is followed by the only slightly longer Filthy Rot incorporating tribal beats, before We’ve Lost You shows the band from a more grooving side. This irregular pattern is consequently applied throughout the nearly one hour long epic. Ludwig Van is the aforementioned Beethoven interpretation, a five and a half minute instrumental piece where the band teams up with a classical orchestra that at times sounds a bit shaky, giving the whole experiment a vaguely na´ve charm.
A-Lex is quite an ambitious release for Sepultura. At their best, they prove that they can survive perfectly well without the name Cavalera tagged to their band. In the end, the album feels too disjointed for my taste, making me hope that the next time they will again concentrate on their strength: great songwriting!