So it is no secret that metalheads can be real dicks...especially with the advent of the internet and message boards. Let’s be honest. I mean hidden behind an IP address, people are free to say whatever they feel with basically no repercussion. How many times have you read posts online bashing bands for no real reason? Better yet, how many times have you posted something derogatory about a band online? It can be merciless out there. And many times, such posts are for no other reason than the band has become too popular. Let’s face it, metal fans like being part of an exclusive club. And once too many people are on the bandwagon, it is too easy to feel that said band is no longer your band; it almost then becomes a reflex to say, “they used to be cool, but they suck now.”
Fuck, I can remember when Slipknot was first taking off and gaining real traction. I can also remember reading people writing, “Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat. was their best cd, they’ve sucked since.” REALLY? Is that really fact, or just someone angered because the band started appealing to too many people? Hell, I admit that I have been guilty of the same – maybe not to the extreme of the Slipknot example above, but nonetheless.
April 2011 marks the 20 year anniversary of the Sepultura release Arise; a monumental release in the band’s history, especially for the true metalhead. For one, it brought about Max’s trademark vocal style. Prior to Arise, Max would cram a ton of words into each line. On Arise, Max wrote fewer words; this modification gave his vocals more room and space and therefore he was able to better enunciate, adding power and clarity to his voice. Compare it to his vocals on the band’s previous release Beneath The Remains, it is a night and day difference…and improvement. But moreso, Arise transformed Sepultura from death metal scene outsiders to one of its brightest hopes, giving the scene a voice.
But it was “bright” in the sense that fans of the band could still say, “wow, this is great…and it is still mine.” At the time, death metal’s recognition was finding its way; no different than thrash metal finding its way when Metallica first came on the scene a few years earlier. In the universe, there are many things that coincide with one another. In the early eighties, Metallica paved the way for thrash metal; releasing Kill ‘Em All in 1983, and then Ride The Lightning in 1984. At the time, these releases were only known underground. But when Master Of Puppets was released in 1986, it solidified Metallica as the masters of the thrash metal scene – and opened the eyes of record labels that this was a genre that meant business. And to the true metalhead, it was great recognition, and it was still their band. With their third release it proved they were here to stay, and ready to take it to the next level. It was still cool to openly love Metallica (and you can feel free to bitch at me for saying this, to me it was the last time it was cool to openly love Metallica).
Half a decade later, Sepultura did the same thing for death metal. 1987’s Schizophrenia and 1989’s Beneath The Remains were good releases, but the band took a huge leap forward in 1991 with the release of Arise; not only for themselves, but for the genre as a whole. As Metallica did five years prior with Master, Sepultura followed suit in their realm with Arise – they showed they were her to stay, and poised to take it to the next level. The band was gaining momentum and recognition, and for the metalheads at the time, it was openly cool to love them.
Sepultura enjoyed their first major marketing campaign with Arise, garnering them new fans while still keeping those that were there from the beginning. The release was a perfect storm of being polished, while at the same time not losing any of the band’s previous grit. Produced by Scott Burns, who went on to become the godfather of death metal engineering, the release was mixed by the then unknown Andy Wallace. And he nailed it…so much so, that the band wanted Andy to mix their albums moving forward – he even produced their next release, Chaos A.D. Of course, that is another story for another time.
Whether later down the road you wavered on your open love for Sepultura (as I did with Metallica), that is your call and your choice; as bands become more accepted by the layman, it is only natural to feel somewhat spurned when you were there from the beginning. And those of you that were there from the beginning, it was a glorious time. Sepultura was still your band, while at the same time there was outside validation telling you what you knew all along…
Check out Arise once again amongst your travels; it is totally worthy of your time.
And if you wonder what the quartet from Arise is up to now, the Cavalera brothers – frontman Max and drummer Iggor – are back together playing under the name Cavalera Conspiracy. They have a new release coming out at the end of March, Blunt Force Trauma. As for guitarist Andreas and bassist Paulo, they are still carrying on the Sepultura torch, and just recently finished recording a new Sepultura record.
The classic music from the past is still there and always will be. But there is new music coming and tours to follow. Check it all out, be open-minded, and try not to be a dick…and I direct that comment towards myself, too. Enjoy.