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Sepultura: The Mediator, The World Cup, The Return

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HEAVY thrashed it out with vocalist Derrick Green and guitarist Andreas Kisser about the new Sepultura album, the World Cup, and touring Australia in 2014.

Not long after pronouncing the title of Sepultura’s 13th album The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be Heart, the intro to the set’s killer opening track, “Trauma of War’ is in full swing. It’s an urgent and aggressive kick-off and by the time the listener reaches the foreboding church-bell intro to ‘The Vatican’, it’s clear the band’s latest ten-track collection has sinister intentions.

Darkness exists across an album that sees Derrick Green-era Sepultura improving yet again.

“My input in songwriting involves sharing ideas with Andreas and a lot of the time we’re on the same page. Everything clicked together on this album. It was totally natural to create that dark sound,” Green says.

Green credits the band’s newest member with providing some youthful energy. Joining the band roughly two years ago, 22 year-old skinsman Eloy Cassagrande, seems a great fit for Sepultura. Of the youngster Green says, “I love the way Eloy plays. He’s explosive onstage and brings an energy to the studio. It’s helped the band make this dark, aggressive sounding album.”

Fellow native of Sao Paulo and long-time guitarist Andreas Kisser adds: “Eloy has metal in his blood. Our last drummer (Jean Dolabella) was great but didn’t have the same metal background. Eloy was a Sepultura fan before he joined us. It created an aggressive chemistry.”

It’s a profound and weighty endorsement coming from a musician who has spent much of his career playing alongside Igor Cavalera. Where the kit is concerned, former Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo makes a guest appearance towards the end of the album on ‘Obsessed’.

Whilst Kisser’s riffing is as expertly ravenous as ever, perhaps more important for fans is the tribal influence that opened ears in the ‘90s. The songwriting strikes a satisfying balance between its experimental pre-Green ‘Roots’ and flat-out thrash machine, on single ‘The Age of the Atheist’, whilst traditional South American vibes are more obvious on the cover song ‘Da Lama ao Caos’ and the conga-break in ‘Manipulation of Tragedy’. When asked if he felt any pressure to include these elements Kisser insists that it is simply part of the fabric of Sepultura as a band.

“Using the Brazilian drums is a totally natural way of making music for me. In my solo work and side projects it’s a comfortable first element when writing music,” he says.

In terms of experimentation, vocals are afforded the chance to sing. It’s not a song of rejoice however. The clean vocals and forlorn feel to ‘Grief’ adds to the darkness of the album but Green laughs off suggestions the band might be attempting to become the next Fear Factory. “We wanted to do something a bit sombre and freaky but it had to sound real, not phony. I think it fits well with the album as a whole. We weren’t aiming to write a ballad but wanted a challenge and something out of the box,” he explains.

The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be Heart feels like a natural progression after its predecessor Kairos and is essentially an extreme and heavy thrash album. Whilst not quite a concept album in the literal sense, like 2006’s Dante XXI and then again with A-Lex in 2009, the ten-song set was inspired by a common theme. Chief lyricist Kisser interprets Austrian Fritz Lang’s 1927 film Metropolis in modern terms as he reveals, “In the movie, a crazy millionaire wants to transform a robot into a real person.  That’s kind of the opposite of what we live today,” he says.

“It’s a protest in the face of religion and politics. There are more important things to be concerned with like tsunamis and other natural phenomenon. I live in São Paulo, one of the biggest metropolises in the world. I know how it is to live in daily chaos.”

Despite such reservations, Kisser is excited about the future of the country he has always called home. With the World Cup around the corner, he is looking forward to 2014 as much as he is being inspired by the past.

“I love football. Along with the Olympics in 2016, it will put a spotlight on Brazil. There will be billions of dollars spent on infrastructure but more importantly, it will give other cultures the chance to learn a bit more about our country. It can be a bit frustrating at how f***ed up things are at times but people will see that Brazil is about much more than football,” he asserts passionately.

For a lot of us, Brazil is less about football and more about Sepultura, a band who have not set foot on our shores for ten years now. Excitingly, both Kisser and Green insist that an anniversary visit is on the cards.

“It’s been way too long; we’re looking at a 2014 visit,” Green says, and Kisser adds: “We have a great history in Australia. Next year marks 30 years of the band and we can’t wait to celebrate it with our Australian fans.”

 

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