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Morbid Visions

Sepultura - Morbid Visions ©1986 Cogumelo Records
1. Morbid Visions
2. Mayhem
3. Troops of Doom
4. War
5. Crucifixion
6. Show Me The Wrath
7. Funeral Rites
8. Empire of the Damned

Sepultura's rise from utter obscurity in Brazil to being international metal stars is one that most fans are quite aware of. The mere fact that the band was able to attain any sort of success coming from such humble roots is quite impressive. But it should be noted that their success had to start somewhere, which in this case is a pair of early releases: Bestial Devastation and Morbid Visions. Bestial Devastation was one half of a 1985 split with Overdose and Morbid Visions was Sepultura's first LP released on a small Brazilian label.

Morbid Visions sounds somewhat like you'd expect from a group of young musicians with more ambition than time spent practicing their instruments. And yes, the production on the LP isn't exactly top notch either. That, of course, is to be expected in Sepultura's situation. I can't imagine the recording budget of Morbid Visions exceeding what Sepultura might have spent in twenty minutes around the time Arise was recorded. That said, Morbid Visions does manage to sound better than, say, Sodom's Obsessed By Cruelty. Possibly the most noticeable aspect of this LP is that someone loved their reverb. As a result, the record sounds cavernous where it occasionally sounds like they set up the band at the far end of a big expansive room and set the microphones far away from the scary, hairy Brazilian thrashers.

But despite the shortcomings of the album, it's pretty easy to hear the embryonic talent seeping through. Their songwriting was relatively ambitious, with change-ups and some concept of trying to arrange the material a bit. There are a few moments where the band actually nails a good riff, though in general the record gets somewhat tedious towards the end. I'll give the band thumbs up for the gusto, but much of the material only deserves a couple listens just to determine where Sepultura got their start. The most noticeable thing about Morbid Visions is that, considering where Sepultura ultimately ended up, you can actually hear some of the future promise while listening.

Sepultura's first two releases have been paired together on later reissues. A 1997 edition includes some more bonus material as well. While Morbid Visions is unlikely to be anyone's favorite Sepultura album, it is certainly worth hearing for fans of the band to witness their humble beginnings. Believe me, many bands started out way worse than this particular early effort.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 12/2010

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Beneath The Remains

Sepultura - Beneath The Remains ©1989 Roadrunner
1. Beneath The Remains
2. Inner Self
3. Stronger Than Hate
4. Mass Hypnosis
5. Sarcastic Existence
6. Slaves Of Pain
7. Lobotomy
8. Hungry
9. Primitive Future
10. A Hora E A Vez Do Cabelo Nascer
11. Inner Self (drum Tracks)
12. Mass Hypnosis (drum Tracks)

Among the throngs of very bad thrash metal that was being released in the late 1980s and after two good, but not completely satisfying albums, Sepultura began their conquest of the USA with Beneath the Remains. As young as the musicians were in 1989, their style is already very much in place. Drawing elements from classic thrash and heavy metal (most obviously Slayer and Metallica), the songs are little more than collections of chugging riffs with bellowed vocals and lead guitar solos and yet they work extremely well. The band knows when to take breaks from the speedier moments and almost always includes a slower break with melodic riffs and harmonized guitars ("Mass Hypnosis", "Sarcastic Existence"); while nothing new, Sepultura's breaks would greatly influence some of their thrash colleagues (Pestilence in particular).

Considering the relatively low budgets thrash in general and newbies Sepultura in particular had to deal with at the time, the sound quality is excellent, thanks to superstar thrash producer Scott Burns. The instruments are clearly separated, and except for a couple of dated vocal moments, Burns knows better than to use any of the cheap studio candy that plagues so many thrash albums of the time.

Only a small handful of straight thrash albums have remained as compelling as they were over ten years ago. This is one of them.

Review by Rog The Frog Billerey-Mosier

Review date: 09/2001

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Sepultura - Arise ©1991 Roadrunner
1. Arise
2. Dead Embryonic Cells
3. Desperate Cry
4. Murder
5. Subtraction
6. Altered State
7. Under Siege (Regnum Irae)
8. Meaningless Movements
9. Infected Voice
10. Orgasmatron
11. Intro
12. C.I.U. (Criminals In Uniform)
13. Desperate Cry (Scott Burns Mix)

After coming into their own with Beneath the Remains, Sepultura came back with a second helping of similar material, moving a little farther away from their early Metallica/Slayer influences to concentrate on their own brand of angry thrash/death metal.

The riffs are very much late-80s/early-90s thrash/death à la Slayer, and rarely do they exhibit the mind-numbing speed one eventually came to expect from bands in the genre. The band's musicianship is impressive and the performances are significantly better than those found on countless thrash albums of the time. The tempos don't waver, the drums come back on the "one" from double-bass blasts and complicated fills, and the guitar solos are a lot tighter and more melodic than Slayer's horrid lead breaks. Sepultura had not yet decided to incorporate Brazilian influences into their music, and in that sense Arise is not quite as distinctive as their later albums would be; on the other hand, the songs are well-written, compelling and more memorable than their more recent material.

This album came at the right time for a lot of harder-edge thrash fans who felt betrayed by Metallica's more mainstream explorations. Ten years later, it is still one of the best examples of what exciting 1990s thrash metal sounded like. Sepultura's back catalogue was recently reissued with bonus tracks on each CD, which adds to the fun. This is one of the two essential Sepultura albums, and should be owned by anyone interested in the genre.

Review by Rog The Frog Billerey-Mosier

Review date: 09/2001

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