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‘Kairos’ (Nuclear Blast, 2011)

Review by Jeff Maki

In late summer 2011, we interviewed guitarist Andreas Kisser (read here) in what turned out to be a must-read for Sepultura fans. He put an immediate end to any speculation of a reunion with former members Max and Igor Cavalera and defended the current formation of the band. Did anyone realize Derrick Green is now the longest-tenured vocalist of Sepultura? Kisser clearly has moved forward emotionally, but that doesn’t mean Sepultura has musically. In fact, Kairos—the band’s debut album for Nuclear Blast Records—is the closet sounding album to classic Sepultura in the post-Cavalera era, and arguably their strongest release since Chaos A.D.

Kairos is a stripped-down, tribal-themed, thrashy outing with riffs that sound right out of the Chaos A.D. sessions, though Kisser denies this. The main riff of “Kairos” quickly brings to mind classic songs like “Nomad” or “Territory.” After experimenting with more hardcore-sounding material and a concept album, Dante XXI, among other things in recent years, Sepultura has rediscovered its trademark groove in a big way with a minimalistic approach on Kairos. Less is more, right? This is evident on the politically-fueled “Mask,” one of the most explosive and memorable tunes on the album. Kisser’s guitar sound and tone is recognizable, therefore other songs like “Seethe,” “Born Strong” and “No One Will Stand” have a sinister Arise death metal vibe to them.

A couple cover songs show up, the first being Ministry’s “Just One Fix.” At first, this seemed like an odd choice of a song for Sepultura to cover. Ministry and Sepultura were peers in the early ‘90s, a time when both bands were at the height of their popularity, but Kisser said Ministry always had been a huge influence on the band, particularly on Chaos A.D. Well, if you’re going to cover a Ministry song, you had better not fuck it up. They do it justice, and the song fits well within the context of the album, but nothing new is added.

The second cover is The Prodigy’s “Firestarter,” which is a bonus track (listed as “4648” on this promo). I’m sure there were good intentions here—after all, it’s a great and unique song—but I think I’ll just forget this is on here.

Green is pretty badass on Kairos. Just when he seems like the forgotten member of the band, he comes through here, with straight-to-the-point lyrics, barked out as if he were being held under gunfire. He takes “Mask” to the next level and uses a variety of techniques, even singing on another standout, “Dialog.” There are times when if I didn’t know it wasn’t Max, someone would have to tell me. This is most likely due to him being in the band for so long now and performing older material on a daily basis. But it’s no problem—it obviously has fit the music for years, and I think he sounds the best he has yet. If he grows out one big, lumped-up dreadlock nest and starts wearing Addidas tracksuits, then I’ll be worried.

According to Kisser, the title Kairos represents a concept of time, and as a result ,the album seems to be a celebration of all things Sepultura. They have embraced their music and spirit of the past while moving forward into the future. Whether we get another one as good as this out of these guys remains to be seen.