Reviewed by Tarja Virmakari
Released: February 1996
Label: Roadrunner Records
1. “Roots Bloody Roots”
5. “Breed Apart”
10. “Born Stubborn”
11. “Jasco” (instrumental)
14. “Endangered Species”
16. “Canyon Jam” (instrumental, unlisted hidden track)
Duration: 72:08 mins
Well, what to say about an album, that for sure has been reviewed hundreds of times in these years … all the good words have been written, all the technical aspects have been analyzed… but still, when MSFinland’s Review Manager, Dylan, asked me to write my opinion on this legendary album, I simply couldn’t refuse…
“Roots” is the sixth studio album by Brazilian heavy metal band SEPULTURA. It was released in February 20, 1996 by Roadrunner Records, and was the band’s last studio album to feature founding member and vocalist Max Cavalera. Following the experimentalism of the album Chaos A.D., Roots has more influence from Brazilian musical rhythms, and features Brazilian musician Carlinhos Brown, percussionist David Silveria, turntablist DJ Lethal, and vocalists Jonathan Davis and Mike Patton. Roots sold more than 2 million copies worldwide.
Opening track “Roots Bloody Roots” is with all the good reasons the title track, it includes it all in there… it’s an invitation to enter the brand new nu-metal world of SEPULTURA of those years; and as people are stuck on the traditions and too many times are unable to see further, ROOTS caused a huge controversy over the band’s decision to experiment with a completely new way to express themselves, for this album SEPULTURA literally invented a new style, never heard before 1996, with the spirit to seek their roots through the exaltation of tribal life, etno-music, in its most radical and “primitive” sense.
The next track “Attitude”, is introduced by a great tribal rhythm then enter the syncopated drumming of Igor Cavalera and the repulsive voice of Max, at certain points the rhythm changes and becomes more pressing, this is a excellent example of a crossover between metal and tribalism. “Cut throat” to me is perhaps the only track that stands out the most from this album, in fact, i’d define it simply a great metal song where Max shouts his anger towards the political “cut throats”, and attacking violently against the dominance of the music industry.
The point of maximum inspiration can be heard without doubts in “Ratamahatta” (sung in Portuguese), alternating by Carlinhos Brown‘s improvisations on percussion, by Andreas Kisser‘s guitars and Igor‘s drumming. This combination creates a perfect delirium.
“Breed Apart” brings us back to a more “canonical” metal, with a hint of electronics in the guitar sounds, and the following “Straighthate” after a hypnotic beginning, becomes a ferocious track full of distortions. “Spit” has accelerated rhythm and nice riffs, the vocals are more aggressive than we normally hear, with a sort of a thrashy stamp.
“Lookaway” is full of guests, DJ Lethal (ex-House of Pain, Limp Bizkit), Jonathan Davis (Korn), and Mike Patton (Faith No More), music-wise it’s a dark nu metal-dipped song of dark attitude, the song structure is well-balanced, and to me this could be the best song of this album.
“Dusted” and “Born Stubborn”, these two songs denote a wild and true destructive will, although brought to the limelight with different methods from the past. “Jasco”, feels like a short emotive break with its melodic acoustic guitars, followed by “Itsári”, wholly tribal song played together with the Xavante-tribe in their reserve. This is another example of the depth and courage of “Roots” and how it was able to go on unexplored paths and trails.
With “Ambush” and “Endangered Species” we go back to the typical Sepultura sound, full of distortions and power, combined with local Brazilian instruments enriched by a pinch of electronic tones, played by Carlinhos Brown. “Dictatorshit” is a bizarre closure of the album, a 1:26 min song consisting a fast thrash-death metal run, that turns out to be good and efficient if brief.
The unlisted hidden track “Canyon Jam”, also this song was played with the Amazonian Xavantes-tribe, it’s a collection of sounds, noises and percussions recorded in a deep Canyon at Indigo Studios.
“Roots” has in it all what you can expect from a masterpiece, a classic, that at the same time is faithful to the tradition, but full of innovation. Roots is a full-bodied and very complex album, with harsh, dirty and mean sounds, perfectly in balance with its slow and powerfull riffs and syncopated rhythms that highlight the influence of nu-metal. There will never be another Roots, for sure, but the roots of this album will always be there as an example and a model for hundreds of bands of today and to those yet to come.