There was a time when a Sepultura without frontman/guitarist Max Cavelera seemed unthinkable. But now, years removed from that split, the latest and final Cavalera departure from the band in the form of his drumming brother Igor Cavalera has largely been met with indifference. Still, beyond the initial post-Max Cavalera misfire that was "Against", Sepultura's turn of the century discography has actually been quite enjoyable. Ironic it is then that the officially Cavalera-less "A-Lex" is the album which just may begin to tip the scale in a troubling new direction.
Following up a literary concept album with yet another literary concept album is obviously a risk for any band - especially one that once held such high prestige in the metal world. Despite this, the latest incarnation of Sepultura seem up to the challenge. As such, the 1962 book, "A Clockwork Orange", has served as the muse for this effort, though this feels largely inconsequential throughout the course of the record. For as the band strive to build up a diverse battery of their typically thrashy metal amalgamated with tribal drumming and forceful breakthroughs, the 'ultraviolence' present here ultimately comes off as diluted and contrived.
Sure the band adhere to the source material as much as they can, but that doesn't mean it makes for an entirely moving musical interpretation. One can easily appreciate that they even go so far as to include a symphonic medley of Ludwig van Beethoven's work in tribute to the musical leanings the album's titular character; but given the way it bogs down the general momentum, it's hard not to feel it to be a bit ham-fisted in approach. In essence it is this lust for authenticity over creativity which seems to be one of the largest problems of "A-Lex".
It continually overreaches and strives to be more than it is. The group repeatedly throw themselves full force at the source material only to come back with heavy-handed results. No doubt the songs here are technically proficient and up to par for Sepultura as a whole, but music that lacks this heavily in passion and charisma can only go so far. Some may argue that at least they haven't essentially written the same album four times over like their former bandleader and this is true. But with "A-Lex", Sepultura sound more book read than life-learned.
(3 / 5)