I have an old college roommate (and still a good friend) who is a thrash/speed metal man. During our stint rooming together,there was one day that we sat around drinking a few beers and he broke out Sepultura’s Chaos A.D. It was fantastic to say the least. When I’m in the mood for something that makes me feel like I want to drive 100+ mph, Chaos A.D. is quickly in hand. I also bought and listened to Roots but not nearly as much as Chaos. After Roots, Max Cavalera was out of the band and I didn’t really follow Sepultura anymore. Oddly enough, I didn’t latch on to Max’s new bands Soulfly or Cavalera Conspiracy either.
I had heard from my friend that Sepultura really went back to their thrash roots after Max’s departure. I’m sure that’s true but I’d say with A-Lex they’re walking a line somewhere between full-on assualt and the heavy melodic power of Chaos. A-Lex is a concept album based on A Clockwork Orange and I believe it shows through pretty well. A-Lex, by the way, is a modified form of the Latin phrase for “without law” (ab+ lex).
All of the songs titled as “A-Lex” (i.e. I, II, III, and IV) begin with electronic intros, lead into a pounding instrumental, and then transition back out with some electronic sounds. It’s almost as if these pieces serve as segues between different portions of a musical storyline and they do so pretty successfully. My only gripe is that the album starts off with one and it was a big of a stutter start to the album. After the first track, “Moloko Mesto” is some blazing thrash. THIS is more of what I expected. The album has a great flow to it. Most of the songs are short and to the point while keeping your blood pumping. The tracks go from thrash to some more melodic metal to a concept song to thrash, etc., etc. When I say more melodic metal, think Pantera’s “Walk”. The screaming is there. The energy is there. And this ain’t no Metallica Black Album. These guys mean business. Then they throw in another “A-Lex” track to remind you that it’s a concept album.
There were some songs on here that had a bit of a different feel to them. “Sadistic Values” is the longest song on the album at 6:50 and it has about three minutes of a dark and mellow electronic intro followed by some thrash. “Metamorphosis” seems to have aimed for a much darker sound than many of the other songs. “Filthy Rot” gives you some of those classic Sepultura drums like “Refuse/Resist” did on Chaos. “The Experiment” sounds like it was lifted right off the Chaos album. The only song that really sticks in my side is “Ludwig Van”. It has orchestral strings with the occasional guitars thrown in an attempt to make it sould like Beethoven if he wrote for a metal band. My issue is that it ends up sounding more like one of those lame Trans Siberian Orchestra commercials. It flat out bites.
“Ludwig Van” aside, I really like A-Lex even if the title tracks break it up into pieces. I made the comparison earlier in the review and I’ll expand on it here. I believe if you take out the “A-Lex” tracks and “Ludwig Van”, you have an album that’s got a pretty similar feel to Pantera’s Far Beyond Driven or The Great Southern Trendkill. You’ll see mosh pits in your mind without the music ever getting monotonous in the way that some thrash does. If you liked Chaos A.D. or the Pantera trilogy of Vulgar Display through Trendkill, I’d highly recommend A-Lex to you.