“Dante XXI” has been lauded as a return to form. Do not listen to the hype. I fell for such misguidance due to the fact the piece of literature this album is based on (Dante Alighieri’s “Divine Comedy”) just so happens to be my favorite piece of fiction ever penned. Sadly, SEPULTURA have only improved minutely from previous works, still offering the listener a rather bland and boring Hardcore diluted Thrash outing which demeans the whole concept this album was based upon.
Such an ambitious outing requires monstrous riffs and mind-blowing song structures which depict the proper mood. What Andreas Kisser offers us is about as monstrous as a Manatee and as mind-blowing as HATEBREED’s latest. Kisser loves to tease us, however, as every once in awhile he’ll give us a riff which clutches at the heels of Thrash and tantalizes our senses thinking the song actually is going somewhere. “Dark Wood Of Error” displays this most properly as it starts off rather solid and you’re simply waiting for this vicious break a la “Stronger Than Hate” or “From The Past Comes The Storms” and it never fucking occurs. You’re stood up harder than that time when you left your cave to attend the prom only to discover your sister weaseled out of the matter and left you standing alone on the dance floor.
Most of the songs contain that rather safe mid-paced pseudo-Thrash/Hardcore feel, occasionally branching out to a fast paced section which lies at the low end of the spectrum. Groove is abound in its most ugly form and further tarnishes the brutality (single “Convicted In Life” shows it aptly). Igor’s drumming is only memorable during the couple instances where he is utilized for an intro and other than that he falls into obscurity; at least he knows his place. Bassist Paulo Jr. can also be depicted but nothing too terribly exciting is occurring so this is the only name dropping he will receive.
One of my main problems with this project (besides of course the complete lack of integrity musically) is with vocalist Derrick Green. I understand he is responsible for this album’s concept and I applaud him in theory, however, in reality I am enraged at the fact he believed his washed up outfit could accurately portray such an epic. Nitpicking aside, his vocal approach has never been strong from a Metal standpoint. He shouts with a Hardcore bark which is as typical as you can get and offers little to the overall sound or atmosphere. He shows a bit more range on “Dante XXI” than on previous records but never reaches even minute levels of enjoyment.
The most interesting aspect of this new release is the progressive mind-set of the band. They decide to utilize strings on occasion and somehow manage to pull the whole thing off relatively decently. Nothing completely knocks you on your ass or has your head banging furiously, however, even the most stalwart of old-SEPULTURA fans would have a hard time criticizing the emotional torrent of “Ostia”. That really is the only composition on here worth listening to, as the rest of the album is stuck in such a sea of mediocrity and anti-climactic riff-raff that you cannot help but feel as though the whole experience was simply a waste of time. Instead of wasting cash and time on such a half-hearted Metal album get the poem instead, you will not regret it unless you are illiterate and daft. (Online April 19, 2006)