Brazilian death metal contingent Sepultura's last album with frontman Max Cavalera on the mic, Roots, came out in 1996 just as the metal landscape really began to change in a nu direction. In line with the downtuned sounds of the times and honoring Sepultura's experimental traditions, Roots basically boasted the band's return to their Brazilian heritage. Accented by the affluent tribal tones fully realized in the form of thick, layered percussives -- even featuring Brazilian musician Carlinhos Brown playing traditional instruments on tracks like "Ratamahatta," the title was fitting for the sonic offering.
With the emphasis on beats and guest musicians (like Mike Patton, Jonathan Davis and DJ Lethal) aside, this eclectic, chaotic album also gave Sepultura an instant classic in the devastatingly heavy track "Roots Bloody Roots."
But as for the visual offering, the Michael Whelan-tweaked 'found art' is best explained by Max Cavalera himself.
Says Cavalera, "Roots is actually not really that much changed from an extinct Brazilian dollar bill. That’s where I got it from -- it’s public domain so anybody could use it and we didn’t have to pay anything. The Brazilian dollar had that face with the Indian on it. It’s actually original from the old dollar bill from the 80s that’s no longer in circulation."
As for Whelan's input, Max explains, "All that Michael Whelan had to do was add the Sepultura S, the tribal S on it, and he did a couple little things on the background, like make it look like some tree roots with a little bit of fire color."
In terms of what this image represented, Max contends, "It was something that, on that album, the whole thing about going back to Brazil and recording with the Indians, it fit the whole purpose of the album."
And in terms of the impact it had, Max shares a little known fact that, "A couple years later there was a designer that used that whole album cover [in his collection] -- John Paul Gaultier."
Watch as Senior VP of A&R Monte Conner explains our #3 album cover even further, listen in on the iconic "Roots Bloody Roots," and watch the stop-animated video for "Ratamahatta" below.
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