Machine Messiah is an absolute rager of an album. In terms of quality, this is one of Sepultura’s best albums period. Of course you’ve got Chaos AD if your ears work, then there’s always either Arise or Roots depending on if you are a Thrash or Nu Metal fan and that’s more or less the way the Metal history books have kept it for years. Now however, this album and its follow up Quadra should rightly be considered absolutely essential Sepultura listening. (In fact, personal preference and sacrilegious though it may be, I would argue this and Quadra and joint second place behind only Chaos AD).
When you look at the cover image for this record, you could reasonably expect it to be some sort of modern version of Arise, like how some veteran bands tend to harken back to old covers when they are going back to their roots. However; stylistically, this album is a whole new kettle of fish.
There’s quite a bit of variety. The album opens with a slow and moody title track with clean vocals. Midway through there is a very proggy instrumental with melodic sweeping virtuoso guitar work. Towards the ends there are a few tracks with additional musicians, like violins and horns, creating a very cinematic and grand sound.
The core sound of the album though, is just really well written, modernised and exciting variations on the band’s signature Groove Metal style, but with much more twists and turns, syncopation, swing and outstanding levels of musicianship. The drums and lead guitars in particular are beyond impressive. Eloy Casagrande is arguably the best drummer they’ve ever had and Andreas Kisser hasn’t just stagnated as a guitarist, he has pushed himself to new heights. This is leagues above anything they were putting up in the first decade after Max left.
I’d usually like to list highlights at this point, but to be honest, there isn’t a wasted moment on the whole disc. ‘Phantom Self’ has the riffs, ‘Iceberg Dances’ and ‘Cyber God’ have the solos, ‘Vandals Nest’ and ‘Resistant Parasites’ have the drums, ‘I Am The Enemy’ and ‘Silent Violence’ have the vocal hooks, and ‘Machine Messiah’ and ‘Alethea’ just have the general cool factor. Its one of the best single collection of songs the band has ever produced.
Clocking in at a tidy 46 minutes without overstaying its welcome and featuring just 10 songs every single one of which is memorable, this is as close to a perfect album as you can get. The best thing is that it just gets better the more you listen to it. I thought it was good the first time I heard it, but the more I spin it, the more I discover. The more I discover the more I love. It just keeps on giving.
Overall, this is a superb album that I whole heartedly recommend without hesitation or caveat. In fact, if you like any other Sepultura album but don’t own this, I downright insist you check it out.