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There is not a single musician in this world who does not crave for things like fame and fortune, but is the quest towards the achievement of such goals always in their best of interests? By bringing to life groundbreaking releases, you instantly raise your fansí expectations, and any attempt to move away from music formulas that you have been associated with, is due to be met with hesitation and sometimes even contempt. One band that has definitely fallen victim to its own musical brilliance is the Brazilian legends Sepultura.

OK - time for some honest evaluation! Even the most faithful of fans must admit that, since the departure of Max Cavalera, Sepultura have been quite weak and out of focus, and that has nothing to do with Derrick Green's (vocals) ability to adapt to this new and quite demanding role.

Albums like 1998's "Against" and 2001's "Nation", found the band moving into new musical territories (hardcore) and did not manage to generate the same amount of interest that classics such as "Beneath The Remains" and "Arise" so easily did a few years ago. On the contrary, 2003's "Roorback" brought a breath of fresh air and a hope for better things to come. Would it now be the right time for the Seps to make their big comeback? Well, I think that the answer is definitely Yes!

What I really liked about this album is that Sepultura have managed to move onto a new artistic level, which is more open to innovations such as strings and trumpet ("Crown And Miter") arrangements, and, even though they have incorporated quite a few "classical" elements of their Thrashy past, they did it without jeopardising their musical identity and their current musical vision. The project of creating a concept album inspired by Dante's "Divine Comedy" would have been dreaded by any other band, but not by Sepultura. By creating short compositions with an average duration of two and a half minutes, and using short intros to "bridge" those ideas together, Seps have managed to create a varied and quite dynamic album, the quality of which is beyond any doubt.

Fans of "Chaos AD" and "Roots" should check out "Convicted In Life" and "False", with the former being complimented by Kisser's fast riffage, while the latter indulging in rhythmical, d-tuned melodies. Even though I really appreciated such classic-sounding compositions, I felt far more attracted to songs like "Ostia". This song's "stonery" main riff along with Derrick's inhuman vocals and the beautifully composed string arrangements is a proof of the band's ability to bring new ideas to life. That brilliantly made composition, together with the quite "oriental" "City Of Dis", the dark moody "Nuclear Seven", and the quite rhythmical "Fighting On", where Igor Cavalera proves why he is considered amongst the best drummers in Metal, makes "Dante XII" not only the best post Max release, but also an album that belongs in the record collection of every self-respecting metal fan.

Even now that I write these very lines, I know that some old school Sepultura fans will choose to ignore "Dante XXI". I also know, though, that this will not be because of the quality of the music involved in that fifteen track release, but simply out of pure stubbornness. Do yourself a favour: give this album a chance, and start looking forward for the future - it looks quite bright!


Review by John Stefanis

**** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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