Sepultura - Beneath The Remains
Roadrunner Records
Thrash Metal
9 songs (42:14)
Release year: 1989
Sepultura, Roadrunner Records
Reviewed by Goat

There are few bands that have survived as long as Brazilian legends Sepultura in the Metal world. Formed in 1984 (the same year as Celtic Frost and only a year after Slayer) the band at first played a primitive form of Death Metal (often credited with being a forerunner to Black Metal with the likes of Venom and Bathory) before morphing into the Thrash Metal beast that metalheads today know and love.

It’s during this Thrash period that Sepultura undoubtedly produced its best work. Although the rest of the band’s output, before and after, has its merits, it is unarguable that the three albums produced during the period 1987 to 1991 are the band’s - if not the genre’s - finest. 1987’s Schizophrenia marked the band’s ambition beginning to rise, the arrival of lead guitarist Andreas Kisser kicking the band to new levels of technicality and songcraft. 1989’s Beneath The Remains gave Sepultura the keys to the gate, making the band known in the Metal scene and taking the band’s Thrash a step further. Finally, in 1991 Arise was the launching pad for the band’s future, marking a slight dilution of the Thrash in favour of the Groove Metal experimentalism that has been an integral part of the band’s sound since.

Everyone will have their own favourite of the three, depending on taste. Beneath The Remains, whilst less varied than Arise, nonetheless takes the premier spot in terms of Thrashiness – Schizophrenia may have been rawer, but it’s nowhere near as brutal. Each and every song on Beneath The Remains hits like a punch to the gut, an abundance of riffs drowning you in headbanging pleasure. As someone awoken to the heavier side of music through the few times the likes of Evanescence, Rage Against The Machine and System Of A Down popped up on the sadly Metalphobic UK radio, a blind buy of Beneath The Remains hit like a sledgehammer. It awoke something in me that I didn’t know existed, and I’ve never looked back since.

The title track opens gently, before exploding into action, riffs exploding around you like shells, drums beaten into submission. Max Cavalera may have gone for a different audience altogether with his Soulfly project, but he was once capable of some awesomely venomous vocals, spitting hate at warmongers everywhere, and his vocals here are perfect, fitting in like another instrument. Even the lyrics are respectable, since the band could apparently barely speak English at the time. The track features the first of many amazing Eastern-influenced solos from Andreas Kisser – one of the most underrated Thrash guitarists ever – and kicks off proceedings excellently.

It’s hard to write about the tracks that follow without sounding hopelessly fanboyish, but the truth remains – Beneath The Remains is a simmering stew of riffs that will cause more neck damage than a particularly nasty car crash. Although Max and Andreas are undoubtedly the stars of the show, Igor Cavelera deserves paragraphs in his own rights. As mentioned, he doesn’t so much play the drums as beat them, surprisingly technical even at this relatively early stage, capable of bursting into Thrash blasts at the drop of a hat.

Despite all this, the band would not sound half as good were it not for the producer, a certain Scott Burns on his first production. Without him, much of the extreme metal that we now hold near and dear would sound very different, and he did a sterling job for Sepultura, making the instruments clear without sacrificing the heaviness. Although Paolo Jr’s bass is almost impossible to make out, you know it’s there – the music has a physical presence that’s never truly been captured on any of the band’s albums since.

Picking highlights is damn near impossible when the material’s of such consistently high quality. Each and every track is different, has its own hook, from the gang shouts on Stronger Than Hate (provided by John Tardy of Obituary and Kelly Shaefer of Atheist who wrote the song) to the standout solo on Mass Hypnosis. Sarcastic Existence, Slaves Of Pain, Lobotomy, Hungry, Primitive Future – all are killer.

Anyone that regards themselves as a Thrasher should have this already, but there’s much here for everyone to enjoy. Beneath The Remains – not Chaos AD, not Roots - is the one Sepultura album that every Metalhead should own, cherish and play twice daily. It fully deserves its place in the Thrash canon next to other classics such as Reign In Blood and Master Of Puppets and can’t be recommended enough.

Killing Songs :
Goat quoted CLASSIC
Other albums by Sepultura that we have reviewed:
Sepultura - Quadra reviewed by Goat and quoted 75 / 100
Sepultura - Machine Messiah reviewed by Goat and quoted 70 / 100
Sepultura - The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be the Heart reviewed by Goat and quoted 70 / 100
Sepultura - Kairos reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Sepultura - Roots reviewed by Goat and quoted 74 / 100
To see all 13 reviews click here
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