Sepultura – The Mediator Between Head And Hands Must Be The Heart


Review by Ian Savage

Nuclear Blast

If a King Midas figure exists in modern heavy music, that man is surely producer Ross Robinson. Albums featuring the ‘Godfather Of Nu-Metal’ at the helm kick-started the careers of Limp Bizkit, Korn, Slipknot and Deftones among many others, and his last platter twiddling the knobs for Brazilian thrash veterans Sepultura was also arguably their last truly great album (1996’s Roots). Sepultura have seemingly found it a little tricky maintaining their standing in the scene since; subsequent releases have failed to reach the critical and commercial heights of their 90s heyday, and following two ill-advised ‘concept albums’ the band are returning to those roots, with what guitarist Andre Kisser describes as ‘one of the strongest Sepultura albums to date’.

Straight from the off, it’s obvious that no prisoners are going to be taken on this mission. Opener ‘Trauma of War’ rolls out from a rumbling drum intro into a machine-gun guitar line recalling Fear Factory at their most brutal, with Green’s vocals growling and screaming by turns to ram the point home. The bell, choir and strings lead-in to ‘The Vatican’ is ripped open by a riff worthy of Sep’s breakthrough opus Chaos AD, and showcases the band’s intention to get back to what works for them.

As tempos and time signatures shift over the album’s 48-minute runtime, this should also work for many fans of the heavier end of metal music. Slower tracks like ‘Impending Doom’ and ‘Grief’ provide some dynamics, and when Sepultura choose to go for the throat they do so with absolute conviction; ‘Manipulation of Tragedy’ and ‘Age Of The Atheist’ meld the band’s cranium-piercing precision with Robinson’s ear for crafting a crushingly dense soundscape to equal Slipknot’s most moshpit-inciting moments. For old-school thrash fans, the best is left for last as Dave Lombardo provides guest drums on the obscenely heavy ‘Obsession’, and the band give a welcome flash of their heritage on the Portugese-sung ‘Da Lamo Ao Caos’, complete with marching-drum intro and Latin embellishments.

Although not free from ‘skippable’ tracks (the term ‘thrash-by-numbers’ springs to mind on a couple of occasions), and bereft of any real ‘head back and shout’ dancefloor standouts, The Mediator Between Head And Hands Must Be The Heart still marks something of a return to form for Sepultura, and a must-buy for any fan of the band, whether lapsed or not. For anyone unfamiliar though, it’s still hard not to recommend grabbing something from their mid-90s catalogue first.

Sepultura – The Mediator Between Head And Hands Must Be The Heart7 out of 10

Track listing: 

  1. The Trauma Of War
  2. The Vatican
  3. Impending Doom
  4. Manipulation Of Tragedy
  5. Tsunami
  6. The Bliss Of Igonrants
  7. Grief
  8. The Age Of The Atheist
  9. Obsessed
  10. Da Lama ao Coas