Sepultura - Against review


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Band: Sepultura
Album: Against
Release date: October 1998

01. Against
02. Choke
03. Old Earth
04. Floaters In Mud
05. Boycott
06. Rumors
07. Tribus
08. Common Bonds
09. F.O.E.
10. Reza
11. Unconscious
12. Kamaitachi
13. Drowned Out
14. Hatred Aside
15. T3RCERMillennium

Don't call it a comeback.

It's hard to talk about Against without mentioning Max's departure from the band, to the point his exclusion from the band overshadows and dictates the narrative when it comes to discussing this record, such was his contribution to the band and the acrimonious split that occurred when he left. While it would be fair to say Against was released under a weight of scrutiny and expectation that would see anything less than near perfect being disparaged and a sign of weakness, even twenty-two years removed since its release, Against doesn't stand tall now that such weight has been removed and the album could stand tall if it had it in itself.

A lot of focus is put on the replacement of Max with Green and to a degree it detracts from the real problem; while Green is a capable replacement for Max vocally, the band did not suitably find a stand-in for Max as a songwriter, and that is where the main crux of the problems with Against stem from. When you look at the writing credits of prior Sepultura albums, you can see Max is prominently involved, and here you can hear the rest of the band trying to write like him but with far less success. Songs either meander with no sense of purpose ("F.O.E.", "Reza"), miss that spark ("Against", "Unconscious") or in general just aren't as good as what Max had produced while in the band.

Kisser does crank out some decent riffs here and there; while they may not be as immediatley effective or memorable as "Refuse/Resist" or "Roots Bloody Roots", they still have some power and kick to them. "Old Earth" has a good riff that is unfortunately buried in the rest of the song around it, but when it is given centre stage it can kick your ass. "Choke" and "Hatred Aside" have some good guitar work to power the tracks along, but they are very much in B/C class where the band had been producing A* quality riffs prior to this.

Igor Cavalera is probably the only member to come out of this fully unscathed; while the material may not be great, it does not impede his ability to inject each song with the high-energy drumming he is known for. Rattling off some good fills and patterns for much of the record, it isn't his best outing overall but he comes out of Against no worse than how he went in. Green for his part does a good job fronting the material, though he isn't given much space to really show off his talent, depriving him of a platform to allow him to be fairly judged.

This would be the consistent problem with the album; it has good moments and ideas, but more often than not they're fighting for attention and space with all the other clutter the band include on the tracks, leading to a listening experience where there are few good songs as a whole but quite a few good ideas spread thinly throughout. "Rumours", "Drowned Out", "Boycott" and the awkwardly named "Floaters In The Mud" all have good ideas within their run time but the ideas are never given the air time to really establish themselves or are immersed in other subpar ideas, leading to them not shining as bright as they otherwise could have to the benefit of the album.

In their attempts to show the world Max wasn't Sepultura, the band ultimately go a long way in legitimizing that school of thought; while the band were by no means mere sidemen who got lucky on the coattails of Max, they were certainly in debt to his creative input that elevated the material. Against was a poor place to try and kick off a new chapter in their history; Sepultura would go on to better things in later years, but they certainly started off on the wrong foot on the way.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 5
Songwriting: 4
Originality: 6
Production: 6


Written on 01.02.2021 by Just because I don't care doesn't mean I'm not listening.

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