Following the release of 2003’s “Roorback,” Sepultura have released their fourth studio album (and fifth disc total) without original frontman Max Cavalera. I must say I was skeptical when listening to the new album because “Roorback” was somewhat of a disappointment. But, after listening with an open mind, I can safely say that “Dante XXI” is doubtlessly Sepultura’s best release with singer Derrick Green (who joined the band in 1998), and also their best since 1993’s “Chaos A.D.”
These songs definitely thrash with a great intensity, one that was missing from “Roorback.” The rhythm section no longer suffers without the second guitar; in fact, while listening to some of the songs, like the churning fifth track, “False,” it’s difficult to tell that the band only have one guitarist.
Next, “Dante XXI” is more creative than most of Sepultura’s previous releases. The tribal drums and acoustic guitars are omitted, but a couple of the tracks (i.e. “Ostia”) feature (what sounds like) violins in the background. Plus, you know this has got to be a fairly creative C.D., because it’s a concept album! (The lyrics are based on Dante’s famous book, “Inferno.”)
Finally, Derrick’s vocal performance is improved here. His yells still aren’t quite as powerful as Max’s growls, but, on the plus side, they are more decipherable.
The first real song on here, “Dark Wood Of Error,” sort of brings Meshuggah to mind, because it has pounding, lumbering guitars and busy double bass drumming. The next track, “Convicted In Life,” begins with a ten second drum intro, before catapulting into buzzsaw guitar riffs. Other highlights include the machine gun, cascading riffs and fast, pounding drums on “City Of Dis” and “Fighting On,” the fiery, churning riffs and careening guitar solo featured in “Nuclear Seven,” “Repeating The Horror” (which ends with a catchy, rhythmic drum solo), and the explosive thrasher, “Crown And Miter.”
All you need to know about this album is that it’s a great return to form for Sepultura; and as aforementioned, “Dante XXI” is the group’s best record without Max. My only gripe with it is that it’s kind of short (only 39 minutes), but, all in all, Sepultura sound very impressive and much improved!