Sepultura – Quadra (Nuclear Blast)

There’ll always be a contingent of Seps fans who’ll only be happy when Max and Iggor Cavalera are back playing under the Sepultura banner. But the chances of the Brazilians running through flower meadows hand in hand with Andreas Kisser and Paulo Jr. seem as far away as ever. And while said fans would have has their thirst slaked by the Cavaleras’ recent ‘Return Beneath Arise’ tour, anyone turning their nose up at Sepultura’s current incarnation would be missing out on a hell of a lot – including this visceral, cerebrally stimulating demonstration of 21st century thrash.

The quartet’s tenth record with Derrick Green, Quadra melds the ambitious, progressive tendencies exhibited across albums like 2017’s Machine Messiah with an all-out attack that harks back to Arise, yet it never seems like a contrived take on ‘old school’ Sepultura. Indeed, the peerless Kisser stretches his fretwork to the limit yet again, the complex arrangements are the work of a band utterly in sync which each other and in Eloy Casagrande, they have a drummer who could walk into any arena metal band in the world. Want the evidence? Instrumental The Pentagram would be a good place to begin. It’s startling in its execution.

But in truth, you’d be hard pressed not to be hooked on Quadra from the moment Isolation roars into life, with Green corralling decades of thrash fury into five glorious, urgent minutes. And if that’s not enough, its follow-up, Means To An End bursts forth with a titanic, tribal groove that reminds you one again of Sepultura’s ability to harness elemental, earth-shattering forces and bend them to their will.

Later in the album, things get even more interesting. Agony Of Defeat sounds like an Amazonian Kashmir, complete with sweeping strings and choral vocals, Autem sees the band draw from prog, anthemic hard rock and straight up death metal to create one of the album’s most fascinating moments and closer Fear; Pain; Chaos; Suffering showcases the formidable talents of Emmily Barreto from Brazilian act Far From Alaska. She adds greater emotional clout to the track’s underlying menace: it works perfectly.

It’s true that post-Max, Sepultura have never made an album with the globe-conquering impact of Chaos AD or Roots. Quadra, however, runs those landmark records close for technical prowess, sonic dexterity and musical ambition… and is the work of a band at the very peak of their powers.

Maybe that still isn’t enough for some. But they’d be turning their backs on a 20s classic in the making.