The first band outside of metal's traditional European and North American strongholds to make an impact on the international stage, Sepultura moved on from their death/thrash metal roots to create one of the genre's most recognisable and idiosyncratic styles.
Even though their classic lineup of brothers Max and Igor Cavalera, Andreas Kisser and Paulo Jr was cut down in its prime by frontman Max's departure, the band have continued to unleash some excellent records with his replacement Derrick Green.
From their earliest rumblings through their most recent statements of intent, here is every Sepultura album ranked from worst to best.
15. A-Lex (2009)
The first album without original drummer Igor Cavalera used Anthony Burgess’ controversial novel 1962 A Clockwork Orange as its jumping-off point. The only thing headline-worthy of A-Lex was how dull and directionless it sounded. The one-time pioneers were now sounding pedestrian.
14. Against (1998)
Even if the first album after Max Cavalera’s acrimonious departure from the band had been a musical colossus, fans would still have labelled Against a fall from grace. Despite the retention of the tribal beats and nu metal low-end, the magic of its predecessor Roots had largely vanished. However, the debut showing of new vocalist Derrick Green on Choke and the title track provided shoots of hope.
13. Machine Messiah (2017)
Even for a band who have made their biggest impact by pushing boundaries, this is the Seps’ most ambitious record, with the glorious Sworn Oath and full-on prog endeavour of Iceberg Dreams dramatic cases in point. However, in spite of Machine Messiah’s intrepid spirit it’s a case of many items being thrown at the wall with only a few sticking.
12. The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be the Heart (2013)
Reuniting with producer Ross Robinson for the first time since Roots, The Mediator… is a brave, brutal but at times blunt album exploring the iconic German silent film Metropolis. Although a hard slog, the likes of Obsessed and The Age Of The Atheist see Andreas Kisser’s riffs erupting from the album's suffocating atmosphere.
11. Nation (2001)
Making an underwhelming impact at the time of its release and spelling the end of the band’s fruitful relationship with Roadrunner Records, Nation fares better two decades on. Still trying to find their identity following the peak of Roots, the propulsive Revolt, Uma Cara and Who Must Die? were given added oomph from a defiant-sounding Green.
10. Morbid Visions (1986)
There’s primitive and then there’s Morbid Visions. Using dictionaries to translate the lyrics into English and taking a relaxed approach to tuning their instruments, Sepultura’s debut album was an unflinchingly raw burst of extreme metal. But for giving the world Troops Of Doom, the album is worthy of historic status.
9. Kairos (2011)
Sepultura's 12th album gave their career a much-needed jolt following the forgettable A-Lex. Whether the precision riffs of Born Strong, Mask and Seethe, the nefarious rush of Embrace The Storm or the bludgeoning wall of the title track, Kairos was the sound of a band sounding revitalised, relevant and, importantly, crushing once more.
8. Roorback (2003)
An important album for Sepultura, Roorback was the first time that the Green-led incarnation of the band sounded close to capturing the magic of their prime. Comes Back Alive was a statement of intent, while the likes of Mind War and Godless rumbled with relish.
7. Dante XXI (2006)
The first of an erratic decade-long experiment with concept records – and by far their best – Dante XXI saw founding drummer Igor Cavalera go out with a bang. Condensing Dante Algihieri’s 14th century poem The Divine Comedy into a brisk 40-minute onslaught, this was an exhilarating journey, piqued by the likes of Convicted In Life and rousing Ostia.
6. Schizophrenia (1987)
A massive leap forward from their juvenile debut, Schizophrenia introduced the world to new guitarist Andreas Kisser and the biting thrash riffs that would become the band’s hallmark over subsequent releases. Far more polished than Morbid Visions, with nods to the likes of Metallica and Slayer on Septic Schizo and Screams Behind The Shadows, it retains a grim darkness that still pervades today.
5. Quadra (2020)
One of the most startling returns to form of any veteran metal act in recent years, the band’s 15th album is not only their best with Green but stands shoulder to shoulder with their 90s classics. Supremely talented drummer Eloy Casagrande delivered his best work on his third album with Sepultura, propelling the razor sharp riffs, tribal grooves, strings and hits from throughout their career into one, memorable whole.
4. Arise (1991)
Between 1989 and 1995, served up four albums that stands as one of the greatest runs in modern metal. Exploding out of the gates with the iconic title track, Arise tinkered with the band’s brutish thrash metal, bringing in samples, industrial tinge and a hardcore bite to match their growing confidence.
3. Beneath The Remains (1989)
Sepultura's first release on Roadrunner could not have been a more impressive announcement on the international stage. Sharper and more potent musically, and with the added crunch of Scott Burns’ production, Beneath The Remains is the sound of a completely different band to the one that emerged from Belo Horizonte. The title track and Mass Hypnosis remain some of the very best songs in Sepultura’s arsenal.
2. Roots (1996)
In what would be the swansong of their iconic lineup, the Brazilians delivered one of metal’s most revolutionary albums. Fusing the sound they’d established on predecessor Chaos A.D. with the rhythms, percussion and Latin flavour of their homeland, plus a nod to the burgeoning nu-metal scene, Roots exemplified the true, pioneering spirit of 90s metal. Any metalhead immune to the visceral thrill of Attitude and Roots Bloody Roots may be in need of a doctor's appointment.
1. Chaos A.D. (1993)
While you could make a case for any of the band's quartet of outstanding albums being their best, it’s their fifth record that comes closest to attaining perfection. The meeting point of the band’s thrash metal roots and the groove and tribal elements that would set them apart from every other band, Chaos A.D. cemented Sepultura as one of the most important heavy bands of the 90s. From Refuse/Resist’s percussive barrage until the final hardcore salvo of Clenched Fist, Chaos A.D. has few equals in metal’s elite pantheon.