Morbid Visions/Bestial Devastation (1992, Roadrunner - originally 1985/86, Cogumelo Records) - I remember getting this a long time ago, when I had a Columbia House membership and was riding high on Sepultura Love from listening to Chas A.D. nonstop for like a year straight, and just had to have everything they ever did. (A phase I have since fallen out of, sadly) And man, honestly, I never liked this at all. It's not that the material is actually bad or anything - live versions of this stuff is usually good, and when they re-recorded "Troops of Doom" a few years later, it ended up being one of the best things they ever did - but this just sounds so damn bad. I get that a way-underground 1985 release from a Brazilian black/death metal band isn't going to sound like Andy Wallace put it together in a million dollar studio, but the reverb, man, the goddamn reverb. I know, evil and all, but making the vocals echo all the time was a terrible decision someone made, and it's just a thing I can't deal with. It's annoying, I'm sorry. I have no hope for a Sepultura/Cavalera Brothers reconciliation, and I have even less hope for what the resulting new album would sound like. But man, I would move the mightiest mountains to get the Cavaleras, Paulo Jr., and that Jairo T dude back into a studio to re-record this.
Schizophrenia (1992, Roadrunner - originally 1987, Cogumelo) - Okay, now, this is better. It's still not peak Sepultura, but the vocal reverberations are gone, meaning the kinda-shitty production is still good enough to be charming in its ritual purity instead of just ruinous, especially when combined with a weirdly-airbrushed cover. It looks like the artist went all out on the spooky eyes in the background, but by the time came to put the straitjacket dude in front of it, he was tired and cranky, and just wanted to get it over with. But this had the first A-number-one banger of a Sepultura song, where "Escape to the Void" probably inspired many stupid act of self-destruction by a dude in a rusty van and/or El Camino, and the eventual CD releases had that Arise-era version of "Troops of Doom," that I already mentioned was one of their best-ever things.
Beneath the Remains (1989, Roadrunner) - Man, looking at this CD now is a shocking trip back to when the world was still a good place to live. Michael Whelan-provided Roadrunner death metal artwork, Max Cavalera rocking the Vision Streetwear sweats in the band photo, out-of-place "Stop the Madness" anti-drug campaign message on the back cover, Blue Grape merchandising flyer, hawking wares of bands like Obituary and Sadus, my god, my god. Were we ever so young? Was the world ever so pure? Anyway, this is the first *great* Sepultura record, even if there was still a lot of filler. (One of my favorite record reviews ever by my dude Jason from the pre social media internet said something along the lines of, "No one's ever said that they can't wait to get home from work or school, so they can listen to 'Slaves of Pain.' again") But even if it was just "Beneath the Remains" and "Inner Self," followed by 40 minutes of dead air, this would still be good. Sadly, this was where that Scott Burns/Morrisound Studios "pillows covering all the microphones" sound that got used on every single late 80s/early 90s Roadrunner release really established itself, and I think Sepultura was the only band who ever had it work in their favor.
Arise (1991, Roadrunner - mine is the 1997 remaster) - This was pretty much the first "extreme" metal I ever heard, (though probably not very extreme in 2017, it fully messed up the Poison-listening general rock public who got exposed to it on a reasonably major scale in 1991) when my brother had the tape, and the part from the title track that's all "I SEEE DA WOOORLD OOOLLLD/I SEEE DA WORLD, DEEEAAD" was the most intense goddamn thing I had ever heard at the time. And while this isn't my favorite Sepultura record, it still fuckin' slaps, (Ha ha, Jesus Christ, I'm 37 and irretrievably white, why am I using "slaps" as a descriptor for a piece of music?) and I can't argue with the metal world at large declaring this as their masterpiece. Also, for real, early 90s Sepultura was the coolest-looking band ever, and Max Cavalera is probably directly to blame for me spending nearly an entire decade wearing Woodland Pattern BDU pants from the military surplus place that was also loaded down with 80s-vintage Chuck Taylor All-Stars for some reason. The combo of camo pants, sky blue Chucks, a buzzed head, and a WWF "Austin 3:16" t-shirt were why I didn't have a girlfriend in college, probably.
Dead Embryonic Cells single (1991, Roadrunner) -Again, I'm old enough to have once lived in a world without the internet, and also without easy access to decent record stores. So occasionally, my brother would come home from college in Oklahoma (Where I live now. Long story. Well, not really, but totally not an interesting story, soooo...) with all kinds of crazy CDs, the likes of which I had never seen. And I just sort of assumed all of it was insanely rare, just completely unattainable to anyone without passage to the world of wonders known as Oklahoma or the unfathomable wealth of a $9/hour job. So he had this CD single, and it was awesome, like it had Sepultura doing a Motorhead cover, as well as this crazy-ass song called "Troops of Doom," which - again - was the best thing ever. So when the semi-local Camelot Records had this for $8, I was THERE, and I just assumed I had picked up an insanely rare gem, because I had no idea that Troops was also on every Cd version of Schizophrenia, or that "Orgasmatron" had been released on probably ten different CDs by then, or that eight bucks was still a reasonable price for this well into the 21st century. But now, we can have it all, both CDs and information about them, for free even, and the world still sucks.
Chaos A.D. (1993, Roadrunner - mine is the '96 bonus tracks version) - This is, for me at least, on of the all-time greats. I know I'd never have the clarity of mind to put together a real Top Ten Albums for Me list that I wouldn't just hate five minutes later, but this could possibly make the top 5. Everything about this is so good, just twelve songs of greatness with nothing warranting a skip to the next track, and they got rid of Scott Burns and got this beefy-ass production that might be my favorite album sound of all time, and it hit right in the sweetest spot in the Sepultura timeline; right at the perfect moment when they were transitioning out of being a borderline death metal group, but not all the way in Roots territory yet, so everything is all groovy and catchy, but not fucking nu-metal yet. Between Scott Burns and Ross Robinson, basically. Precious memories of that late 90s wrestling boom, when I decided that I needed to be a pro rassler, and that when I got to ECW, (only a poser wanted to be in WCW or the WWF) "Slave New World" would be my entrance theme. (Either that or "Tank" by Life Sex & Death) Man, now that I'm thinking about it, what was the deal with bands hitting their glorious absolute highest point in the early 90s and then completely cratering? Sad.
Roots (1996, Roadrunner) - I was so excited for this. The previous album had been the best thing that had ever happened, and the reviews for this were just insanely good, and that metal radio show that we had for a few weeks in the late 90s (according to rumors and innuendo, it got killed when they played Marylin Manson and the Christ people complained) played "Ratamahatta," and it was the neatest thing ever, with the metal and the tribal drumming and the throat-singing and whatnot. and then, the Columbia House package arrived, and holy shit, this sucked. With most of that 90s nu-metal stuff, I knew I hated it, but I could at least understand what other people got out of it. Sure, Limp Bizkit and Coal Chamber blew dicks, but they were making bouncy pop songs for mass consumption and had catchy choruses for the kids to hammer out in all-caps in an IRC chatroom. Roots just had nothing. Just a couple decent songs to get your hopes up, followed by the worst and most boring of bottom-rung Ross Robinson nu-metal. And Chaos A.D. had been so good. WHY CAN'T I HAVE NICE THINGS?
Blood Rooted (1997, Roadrunner) - I have always wished bands would do more things like this, like Attack of the Killer B's by Anthrax or disk two of Garage Inc. by Metallica, where they just gather up all the old B-sides and songs from weird foreign EPs that no one knows about and ball them up into one big semi-album. There ended up being a lot of garbage on this, (looking at you, remix of the Roots song they did with the Korn guy) but there was still some really good stuff like Black Sabbath, Celtic Frost, and Ratos de Porão covers, plus a whole bunch of insanely good live tracks. (They really need to just release that whole show someday) The bummer of this was that in '97, I still had no internet access, all the metal magazines had become impossible to find, (and when you did find one, it was Metal Edge, who were still mainly covering stuff like Bang Tango and Warrant well into the 2000s) and MTV had stopped paying attention to anything non-Metallica in terms of metal, so I had no idea that this was after Max had quit, and was just released by Roadrunner as a "welp, these guys are toast, better start fulfilling those contractual obligations" release. Of course, judging by Roots and the crap Soulfly started shoveling out around this time, (and to be honest, those shitty Cavalera Conspiracy records that somehow keep happening) it wasn't like anything good would've come from a fully Cavalera-laden Sepultura, anyway.
Nation (2001, Roadrunner) - I don't know why I skipped Against when it came out, (which turned out to be a good move, because it's fuckin' garbage) but for some reason, I grabbed this almost immediately after its release. And I dunno, I've always almost liked it, but it's got that Derrick Greene-era Sepultura disease, where it sounds perfectly fine, and you can play the whole CD in the background of whatever the hell it is that you're doing, (you perverts) but there just aren't any songs worth listening to on purpose. And it's a damn shame, because Greene is a perfectly fine singer and technically a lot better than Max Cavalera was, (I mean, he can actually *sing* when he feels like it) and this was the last big Roadrunner budget (they got the Obey Giant guy to do the art, even) Sepultura album with decent production. But here we are, with a record for which I feel nothing. "Sepulnation" is okay, I guess.
Roorback/Revolusongs 2CD (2003, SPV) - Revolusongs was a covers EP they had put out that was either hard to find or was just one that I missed while I wasn't paying attention, and hey, it's pretty cool. They do a really cool version of "Piranha" by Exodus and a cover of "Bullet the Blue Sky" by U2 that was jarring as hell when it got played over the PA system at Best Buy that one time, while I was probably looking at wrestling DVDs or some such, immediately followed by a Britney Spears track. It was packaged as disk two with Roorback, which was a Sepultura album that sucked balls. I dunno, maybe that's a bit harsh, but it's definitely not good. It's the same bloodless, uninspiring stuff as Nation, but now with a sad, thin, budget-production guitar sound that they've had ever since. It was here that I learned how to tell whether Andreas Kisser or Derrick Greene wrote a song's lyrics. Greene's have that "older hardcore dude who's up his own ass with poetry and makes sure nothing ever rhymes" style, and Kisser's just sound like songs. It's all pretty bad, but the goofy little hidden track jam thing talking shit about Paulo Jr.'s broken microphone is pretty great.
Live in São Paulo 2CD (2005, SPV) - Hey, it's a live album, and it's not bad. A few more Roots and Roorback songs than I'd have wanted, but what can you do. I... I really can't think of much else to say about this.
Dante XXI (2006, SPV) - I remember the hype leading up to this one really putting me off, like how they were hiring an orchestra to help with an a concept album about the Divine Comedy, and it really reeked of a lot of self-inhalation of farts. But for reasons still unknown to me, I grabbed this pretty much the first day it got released, and whoa, oh man, holy shit this is... good? Like seriously, this is the forgotten great Sepultura album, easily the best thing they ever did after Chaos A.D., even if it was probably the only good thing they've done since then. This was the one time in the post-Max world where they managed to get their shit together and write songs that stuck with you for longer than the runtime and actually made you want to listen to them again, even. And all the extra instrumentation actually added to the music, with very little fart-sniffing or any of that Metallica S&M junk, where there's just a completely unnecessary orchestra faintly doing the exact same thing the guitars are doing. This would have been my Album of the Year if Mastodon hadn't still been on the upswing in 2006.
A-Lex (2009, SPV) - Aaaand, Dante XXI was a fluke, so back down we go. Another boring ol' Late Sepultura album. Not as bad as Roorback, but probably not as good as Nation. And they just keep putting out albums like this, and no one wants to hear them. I dunno, maybe it's some weird thing where they feel like calling it quits would mean Max Cavalera won or something. And the sad part is that I know Max hasn't done anything worth listening to since Chaos A.D., (fuck Soulfly, fuck Cavalera Conspiracy, fuck Killer Be Killed, fuck etc.) but people seem to actually care about all of it, so the question of who "won" the Sepultura Wars was a decided a long time ago, and it wasn't Sepultura. Just let it go, you guys. Just let it go.