The Grand Re-Listening: Part 25: Sepultura – Roots

Sepultura – Roots

Sepultura – Roots

I think of all the albums on The Grand Re-Listening List, this album is probably the one which I have listened to the least.

The reason for that is simple, I hate it. I have been aware of it for almost as long as Burn My Eyes, and have had a lend of it, owned it, got rid of it and renowned it at different points in time never really having any great deal of affection for it and barely ever listening to it all the way through while maintaining full attention.

Oh and as a kid my brother had a lend of it from a library for like a good year, but I don’t recall giving much of a crap to be honest.

I have always enjoyed the almost title track ‘Roots Bloody Roots,’ which I will freely admit to being a good song and will happily watch its music video if I’m in the mood or bob my head to it if it is played over the speakers at a rock club situation, enjoy it when Soulfly or Cannibal Corpse cover it or whatever… I have no great enmity towards that track.

The rest of the album I just remember bored me, sounded bad and I just don’t like the direction or tone of the album. It was too sluggish and drab with a slimy sounding production and annoying noises all over the place.

On this re-listening ‘Roots Bloody Roots,’ went down smoothly as usual and perhaps even a little more so than the last few times. I will also admit that ‘Attitude,’ was pretty good in parts. I notice a few favourable similarities between ‘Attitude,’ and also the superior ‘Cut-Throat,’ with the general style of Burn My Eyes but it is not exactly enough to hugely change my opinions of them.

I do like Max Cavelera’s voice, but not enough. He has a strong enough voice for me to not criticise it, but not strong or varied enough for me to really find any real praise. Max’s voice is there, it doesn’t suck, and now lets get on with it.
I found with the rest of the album that most of the songs had one cool part or so, but always failed to capitalise on it, there would be a cool riff that never changed and ended up just boring, or a cool drum section over horrible squeally noise segments. I also found myself disliking every guitar solo on the album bar the one in ‘Ambush.’

The only tracks I really liked were the aforementioned ‘Roots Bloody Roots,’ and ‘Cut Throat,’ in addition to the fast and fun ‘Spit,’ and the groovey ‘Dusted.’

The rest of the tracks were all either just OK or generally a little poor. Another thing I thought was that most songs were a minute and thirty seconds longer than they had ideas to support, especially ‘Itsari,’ where you can hear the logical end and then a stumbling attempt to start again a good minute before it actually does end.

The final problem is that in addition to most of the tracks being overlong unnecessarily, I feel the album itself is too long and what music journalists like to call ‘bloated and self indulgent,’ a phrase I never liked in description of prog albums that felt to me appropriate in length but that aptly describes Roots, which would flow a lot better to my ears had it pruned about four or five tracks, including the especially unnecessary one minute acoustic number ‘Jasco,’ and the fun, but out of place hardcore influenced ‘Dictatorshit.’

Overall, Roots isn’t really for me. Admittedly, there is some merit there but it isn’t really good enough to deserve the classic album status it has been afforded in my brain (and I obviously picked it up from somewhere… Metal Hammer or Amazon presumably) I wouldn’t really recommend it to anyone who just got into metal the same way I would Metallica’s Black Album or Pantera’s Vulgar Display of Power.


  1. Thoughts on this, my first one being that Chaos AD or Arise would actually fit the mould of TGR more accurately than this album, considering their own status as classics and the former’s as a genre touchstone.

    There’s definitely too much of what you called ‘squeally noise’ on this album, and it’s all thanks to one man- Ross Robinson. Pretty much anything on this album that sucks has his stamp all over it.

    “Spit” shows no obvious hardcore influence, you must be thinking of “Dictatorshit”, which is as hardcore as Sepultura ever got with Max in the band.

    I too don’t understand its classic album status- any time you see it mentioned in such a sense it’s always accompanied by some mention of the invigoration in metal that Seps’ tribal infusion was responsible for, but a) I can’t see any lasting influence that it had and b) they’d done it three years earlier on Chaos AD, too.

    I’m fond of other parts of the album, particularly those in “Breed Apart” that aren’t that sludgy mess the verses become. “Roots Bloody Roots” is a classic, no doubt, even though it’s one of those songs like Teen Spirit that it’d be very easy to hate because of how exposed it is to people who otherwise wouldn’t like the band in question. Though I love RBR and it’s often a part of any drum workout, I’d resent a band for playing it if I saw them up the town. That’s as best as I can summarise it. I also resent its placement at the end of every Seps setlist, when I think opening with the latest album opener (whichever album that may be) and then following it with RBR would carry a greater energy than the inevitability of a played-out track that signals the end of a show.

    “Jasco” was, I THINK, one of the jam tracks they did (or maybe it’s “Itsari”), so although the decision could have been made in-studio to shorten it, it’s not like the tribal dudes were aware of the logical stopping point when they banged it out on the fly in the first place. Though I don’t have the album to hand (and boy do I HATE its booklet) I’m fairly sure you’ve mixed the tracks up as “Jasco” is just over a minute thirty en totale, anyway.

    Cannibal Corpse never covered “Roots Bloody Roots”- it was a Limewire/ Kazaa myth, like the Type O cover of Teen Spirit that was actually Nirvana themselves on TOTP or the Darkthrone/ Burzum collaboration “Vatican In Flames” that was actually by a completely unrelated band named Clandestine Blaze.

    The sluggish production you mentioned works, on occasion, wonders for Igor’s style of playing. He does that thing Lars does on S&M where he’ll not hit the hi-hat as hard on every second beat so it increases the groove, and the overall sound on Roots is definitely in Igor’s favour. There’s even one track where’s playing totally out of time (in fact it’s a B-side from these sessions, the cover of “Procreation Of The Wicked”) but it sounds amazing because of the WAY he plays it, and the way it was mixed. Other times though, particularly in the guitar department, it lacks clarity and only serves to annoy me.

    I honestly never listen to the album these days, and may have listened to it entirely only three or four times ever, and that was forced as I was in a meat factory, at work, at the time. “Straighthate” and the Jonathan Davis song are barriers in themselves to a complete listen, but the album is exhausting even without them. “Attitude” is still king though, and has taken on a life of its own given its connection to Dana Wells’ death. The version of it from the night after he died used to send chills down my spine. It’s such an angry song, just sonically, even though the lyrics tend to detract from it a little.

    My own Roots history:

    Bought in Music Shop Cookstown
    Bought Roots Of… version in Belfast
    Bought 1996 digipak in Hector’s House Belfast
    Re-bought Roots Of… in 2006
    Sold all as part of CD clearout in 2010

    Also my final thought: I STILL see the tattoos beneath the eyes as the actual eyes, and so to me that guy is permanently shocked and has a tiny head. Jesus, if that isn’t one of the worst covers in history…


  2. Yup I did initially mix up Jasco and Itsari and Spit and Dictatorshit there as I wrote it the morning after the listen.

    Fixed now.

    Also added a sentence about it being overlong that I thought of in bed last night but didn’t write down.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s