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Sepultura - "A-Lex" (CD)

Sepultura - "A-Lex" CD cover image

"A-Lex" track listing:

1. A-Lex I (1:54)
2. Moloko Mesto (2:09)
3. Filthy Rot (2:46)
4. We’ve Lost You! (4:14)
5. What I Do (2:01)
6. A-Lex II (2:18)
7. The Treatment (3:24)
8. Metamorphosis (3:02)
9. Sadistic Values (6:51)
10. Forceful Behavior (2:28)
11. Conform (1:54)
12. A-Lex III (2:03)
13. The Experiment (3:28)
14. Strike (3:41)
15. Enough Said (1:37)
16. Ludwig Van (5:30)
17. A-Lex IV (2:46)
18. Paradox (2:16)

Reviewed by on January 28, 2009

"'A-Lex' is another bold and daring step for Sepultura, one that mostly pays off this time around."

In 2006, Sepultura brought the tale of "The Divine Comedy" to life with the concept album “Dante XXI.” After treading water for years, the Brazilian metal band seemed to finally get back on track with an album that showcases the side of the band that had seemed to diminish throughout the late 90’s. While the band was still achieving critical acclaim during that time period, their fan base had slowly dwindled away, seemingly paralyzed with disbelief over the loss of founding member Max Cavalera shortly after the release of the band's groundbreaking 1996 album “Roots.”

In the three years since the release of “Dante XXI,” the other Cavalera brother, drummer Igor, left the band to form a new project with his brother, Cavalera Conspiracy, breaking a decade-long silence between the two. Undeterred, Sepultura did what they do best and soldiered on, recruiting Jean Dolabella to fill the big shoes of Igor’s. With a new line-up in tow, Sepultura went back to the studio to work on their second concept album, “A-Lex.”

Based on the classic 1962 Anthony Burgess novel “A Clockwork Orange,” “A-Lex” is another bold and daring step for Sepultura, one that mostly pays off this time around. The majority of the tracks are under the three-minute mark, making sure that each track doesn’t overstay its welcome. There are hints of the band’s old sound sprinkled throughout “A-Lex,” especially with guitarist Andreas Kisser’s fast-picked riffs on “Forceful Behavior” and “Moloko Mesto.” Tracks like the brief, yet powerful, “Enough Said,” the lumbering “We’ve Lost You!,” and the throwback-thrash sound of “The Treatment” will have fans salivating with delight.

The experimentation is prevalent with the five instrumentals, the tribal percussion on “Filthy Rot,” and the epic “Sadistic Values,” which has vocalist Derrick Green trading in his usually-aggressive vocals for a calm, melodic croon that is surprisingly effective. Like “Dante XXI,” the instrumentals, while vital to the flow of the album, are mostly pointless, save for the Beethoven-inspired “Ludwig Van.” Imagine the legendary composer’s 9th Symphony, with Sepultura providing back-up support to the orchestra; “Ludwig Van” is the result of that collaboration. At first, it seems like a strange combination, but the band makes it work, turning in one of the strongest performances on “A-Lex.”

With 18 songs, a few of them are bound to be regaled to the position of "filler" track, a status that is exclusive to a selected number of tracks. Other than the instrumentals, the closer “Paradox” is an anti-climatic end to the album; while having a fantastic solo courtesy of Kisser, the track is too short and bland to make a lasting impression. The second half of the album tends to be heavy on the instrumentals, breaking up the steady flow of “A-Lex,” especially near the end.

While not as consistent as “Dante XXI,” “A-Lex” is a solid concept album with a lot of attention to detail to make sure that the album is what the soundtrack to “A Clockwork Orange” would sound like if a metal band took a stab at it. Some songs work better than others, but Sepultura continues to show a heavier side, with a pinch of progressive tendencies; the same side of them that was poking through the cracks on “Dante XXI.” Long-time fans that got off the Sepultura bandwagon once Max left will likely find nothing to get excited about with “A-Lex;” however, the album will find an audience with those who have accepted Sepultura for what they are today, and not for what they used to be.

Highs: Great guitar work, decent vocals, fantastic Beethoven-inspired instrumental

Lows: Too many instrumentals near the end, lackluster conclusion

Bottom line: "A-Lex" is a solid concept album featuring strong performances and a entertaining story.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)