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I'm Chris. I'm 22 years old and I'm into a large variety of music, from Metal in its many forms (mostly the extreme ones) to Goth and Postpunk, Reggae, Jazz, Prog, Techno, Ambient and Film Scores. This is where I rave about albums I really like, and other stuff.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Sepultura - Beneath The Remains

Sepultura - Beneath The Remains
Thrash metal
1989, Roadrunner Records


I think perhaps that, if this was suddenly the only thrash album on the face of the earth that I'd be fine with it. Maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but it should go some way towards explaining how I feel about this one. Beneath The Remains is a strong contender for my favourite thrash album ever, and definitely in my top 10 metal albums period. To elaborate I need to take you back to when I first heard it. This was one of those "benchmark" albums that raised the bar quite early on what I considered to be the hardest, fastest, most extreme music during my quest through adolescence to see just how far it could really go. Before this must have been Reign In Blood, if memory serves. Of course, if we're speaking in those terms, Beneath The Remains has been trumped innumerable times since by various death and black metal albums, but those benchmark experiences have a tendency to stay with us. Context is indeed of great importance when it comes to experiencing a lot of music. At the time I heard this I was 14 years old. As I say the most extreme things I was aware of at the time were Slayer albums such as Hell Awaits and Reign In Blood. Suffice to say Beneath The Remains promptly demolished my ideas about metal at that time. Sure, those old Slayer albums are still evil as hell, fast and heavy, but this seemed to top even them. I had a best friend at that time who was largely into the same stuff as me, and we'd share music (specifically metal) as we came across it. He was the one who showed me Reign In Blood, and I'll never forget the way my jaw just dropped when I heard it. Some time later I showed him this, and he didn't like it. That was when I knew I was a fan of extreme music, and this album was the springboard.

Reality is always more disturbing than horror, and Beneath The Remains is definitely a take on reality as opposed to Slayer's largely fantastical satanic approach. The venomous lyrics, fueled by passion and righteous anger were one of the things that attracted me the most over time, spinning tales of dystopia and human corruption that you don't have to be from fucked up South America to understand or relate to in your own life. At first though, the main attraction was the music itself, the lyrics hard to distinguish through Max's thick accent to my virgin ears. What still impresses me as much as day one is just how FAST the riffs are. Today any fool (me, for example!) can put together lightning speed guitar tracks piece by piece in pro tools with enough time, in 1989 it took a little more and it is a remarkable achievement. The riffs are furious and unrelenting, the melodies dark and enthralling. The tightness of the playing might cause wrist pain in guitar playing listeners! The drums are constantly holding everything together with skill and there is some nice playing going on, but this is really a guitar album. Bass is practically non existent, though Scott Burns is still to be commended for the punchy and aggressive production. Of course, its not all just breakneck speed from beginning to end. There are some great slower and mid paced riffs to shake it up, and in the case of Mass Hypnosis is the prompt for a fantastic, melodic solo. The previous album Schizophrenia (also essential thrash in its own right) had showed the Seps moving towards this point out of their more primitive beginnings, and this album is where they arrived. Then began the slow descent into painful mediocrity, but let's not go there! And who can forget the amazing cover art? Brilliantly detailed and mysterious.

The best songs? All of them. Though there are some (Mass Hypnosis, Lobotomy for example) I like more than the rest, discussing the songs individually is irrelevant. More importantly I can't be bothered to dissect every little detail that I like, because you should be doing that for yourself. This album is PURE THRASH. It makes no apologies for being so, and doesn't care if you don't approve because plenty of others do and always will. Though its not a From This Day Forward or a Time Does Not Heal, albums that show how far the boundaries of the genre can be pushed in various ways,  I would go as far as to say this album represents the "conventional" heads down, all out thrash approach taken to its logical conclusion. All further attempts by anyone are, for all intents and purposes (minus a few worthy exceptions), a waste of time. I'm looking at you, modern retro thrash scene. You just won't top this. Stop trying.

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