When Covid-19 necessitated the era of livestreaming, metal bands quickly got creative to make their virtual gigs outshine the rest. Code Orange effectively resurrected the MTV Unplugged format, while Lamb Of God barrelled through albums in full and Trivium unearthed rarities on Twitch. Sepultura, concurrently, debuted SepulQuarta: a Youtube series during which the idols played one of their up-to-35-year-old ragers in isolation, with prestigious guests joining.
After sustaining the concept for more than a year, the Brazilians have corralled 15 songs onto a quasi-live album. In doing so they demonstrate that, although these tracks functioned as brief online novelties, on streaming services and shop shelves many prove redundant. Musicians from bands as beloved as Trivium, Motorhead and Anthrax appear, but don’t always add enough to make their inclusions head-turning. Territory’s grooves sound no more pummelling for having David Ellefson as second bassist, and you’d never guess Scott Ian was on Cut-Throat from the audio alone. Testament’s Alex Skolnick, Death Angel’s Rob Cavestany and Periphery’s Mark Holcomb all suffer similarly, blending into their surroundings.
That isn’t to say there aren’t highlights. Derrick Green has long been underrated but he’s outshone by the arena-rattling might of Matt Heafy and Devin Townsend. Andreas Kisser and Kreator’s Frédéric Leclercq modernise Slaves Of Pain’s scurrying thrash, their guitar tones blitzing through the soundscape. Stealing the show are Brazilian drummers João Barone and Charles Gavin; they’re a percussive armada that make Ratamahatta sound like tribal warfare.
To play SepulQuarta is to routinely roll the dice. Fans craving reimaginings risk disappointment – if they’ve not already listened on Youtube. Elsewhere, the uninitiated showing up for the big-name cameos will often feel short-changed.
SepulQuarta is out August 13 via Nuclear Blast. Pre-order the album on Amazon.