ROOTS: 25th anniversary of the most brutal album of Latin trash metal
Sepultura wanted to inspect their roots in 1996 and recorded a song with the Xavantes tribe that would redefine metal.
A good metal album is supposed to be devastating, spiritually overwhelming, and with crushing sounds — a kind of storm that emerged from the cassette to overshadow consciences and tire more than just the neck.
Sepultura gave us all that —and more— in their 1996 album Roots, the record that marked the end of an era and the introspective new directions of metal.
The singer Max Calavera begged between hellish hot flashes to be seen going crazy in the middle of an intense jam in the village of the Xavantes tribe, an exercise also to question his Brazilian roots as it happened with his collaboration with the Brazilian percussionist... Carlinhos Brown!
Metal reached its zenith in the previous decade and needed a renewal before becoming the living dead they talked about, between compilations and unplugged albums.
Bands like Metallica or Pantera were striving to reinvent themselves, the Norwegian metal of Mayhem was betting on continuing to delve into the most unsightly darkness, and some were beginning to mix with hip hop to end up creating bands like Rage Against the Machine or Linkin Park.
On a path from the periphery to the center of metal was Sepultura and their Amazonian metal, in which they exploited the universe of Latino percussion in such an intense and personal way that showed not only new introspective directions but also that the tempo could be accelerated even more on the path towards thrash metal.
Incubated in the context of the Brazilian military dictatorship, death metal or hardcore turned from his hand into groove metal that channeled all that speed into psychedelic guitar riffs and solos and into making the snare drum beat as heavy as possible.
The lyrics addressed in English both identity doubts, traditional Brazilian music, and the genre's usual rage.
Despite the importance of the album, it ended up meaning their dissolution due to disagreements, forcing them to leave the band to Cavalera and his wife, their manager.
Max founded Soulfly, but they reunited again in 2006 for Calavera Conspiracy, becoming one of the most important Latin metal bands in musical history with fifteen albums that have sold more than twenty million copies.
The album has now been reissued for its 25th anniversary with a B-side that includes a Celtic Frost cover, a Bob Marley cover, several demos and remixes, and a collaboration with Mike Patton of Faith No More.
In an article by Jon Wiederhorn for Noise Creep, the author recovers Cavalera's statements about a recording that takes on historical relevance with distance: "the experience was amazing, but it was also weird. We were covered in mosquito bites because, even though we had this special repellent before we left, it didn't work for shit. Also, there was no electricity, so we had car batteries hooked up to the recorders. The problem with that was we couldn’t play stuff back because there wasn't enough juice. So we did 15 takes and just prayed that anything we did got recorded".