Some people seem to cling onto the hope that Max Cavalera shall join the ranks of SEPULTURA once again, why I don’t know. If it’s based on this album, “Roots”, I understand even less. What SOULFLY is doing these days are pretty close to the concept of “Roots”, they are just visiting other jungles. I think that SOULFLY has some excellent songs but I also find some of the ethnic stuff to be immensely tiresome. Just like some of the stuff on “Roots”. Fortunately there is a lot more neck breaking heaviness on “Roots” than there is tribal drumming and chants, or Serbian reggae ensembles for that matter. I like ethnic influences but I like it best intertwined in the music, not 10 minutes of pure tribal music.
“Roots” is perhaps one of the heaviest albums ever released on Roadrunner Records. That doesn’t say much these days but they released quite some Death Metal albums in their early years, like DEICIDE and OBITUARY. Not that DEICIDE can be accused for playing down tuned Death Metal. The title track, “Roots Bloody Roots”, is one hell of a song. Heavy as in a really heavy thing. The guitars are so down tuned that a mild breeze would make the strings play all by themselves. I also enjoy the bass rumblings immensely, without it the heaviness wouldn’t have such a great bottom. Stomping heaviness ensured.
When I listen to this album over again I re-realize that SEPULTURA indeed was a great band. I will not put myself as a judge over their release following “Roots”, as I haven’t listened to them at all, but I’ve understood that I haven’t missed much. Based on reviews I’ve read and people I’ve talked to. I don’t consider “Roots” to be SEPULTURA’s finest moment but I do consider it as their last essential album, marking the end of an era, as their albums prior to and including, “Roots” is essential for me. I understand people who can’t stand all the tribal and ethnic influences on “Roots” but even those have to admit that there is some heavy Metal going on as well.
The album’s best moment when it comes to intertwining the tribal influences into the Metal mix is the song “Ratamahatta”. For some strange reason that name didn’t get underlined with red in Word, meaning that it is a proper word. What the hell does it mean? Has it something to do with drums? Please mail me if you have the answer. Anyway, the song is both strange and good. Using tribal drumming and vocals not normally used on a SEPULTURA album. I think the song is good but it gets a bit tiresome at the end. As I’ve mentioned before I think the balance between Metal and tribal is good, meaning that the non Metal influences for the most part enhances the music instead of replacing it. I think “Itsari” is quite good as well, with Indians chanting coupled with acoustic guitar and something that sounds for me like an Indian variant of drums. No triggers here.
It’s strange that we call them Indians by the way. The reason for that is because a dumb bugger known as Columbus thought he had arrived at India shores when he in fact had embarked on the shores of what we today know as U.S.A. And therefore he called the people already living there for Indians, something severely wrong with this guys map.
My favourite songs on “Roots” are “Roots Bloody Roots, “Cut-Throat”, “Straighthate”, “Born Stubborn” and “Dictatorshit”. The last song I mentioned, “Dictatorshit”, is more of a Punk song than anything else, fast ahead and with lots of aggression. I think it’s safe to say that SEPULTURA is against the idea of dictatorship. One of the less interesting songs is in my opinion “Look Away”, which features Jonathan Davies (KORN) and Mike Patton (FAITH NO MORE, FANTÔMAS, MR. BUNGLE and so on) on vocals. I don’t think any of the two vocalists are doing anything exciting. Jonathan whispers while Mike makes odd ball throat sounds, much like the ones he has been making for the last ten years or so. The song is only good when Max takes over the vocals. A guy called DJ Lethal from LIMP BIZKIT also participates on this song; fortunately they put most of the trash into one song instead of spreading it over the whole album. I’m not saying that any of persons involved should be considered as trash but I do think that a band like LIMP BIZKIT is indeed a limp one. I don’t think KORN walks straight either but I have to admit that I like some of their songs. So much for credibility.
As far as I’m concerned “Roots” is a very good album that has withstood the test of time with flying colours. I have no problems whatsoever recommending this to the Metal community out there. Stay away only if you utterly despise the idea of having Indians mixed into your Metal. (Online August 24, 2006)