Vera : Sepultura has discovered the charms of making concept albums since the previous album 'Dante XXI' (2006). According to guitarist Andreas Kisser, a storyline adds an extra dimension to their inspiration. Thus 'A-Lex' has been written in three months time and engendered of jam sessions. At first sight I said to myself, a bit scornful: "Indeed, a jam session and then cut into bits”, because some songs ended quite abruptly, in between others you could hardly find a transition and because we were dealing with eighteen tracks, with an average length between two and three minutes, this fragmentation was kind of so-so. This was a bit overhasty of me. It is true, 'A-Lex' needs more time to give its impact free than 'Dante XXI'. There is no song like 'Ostia' on it for instance.
But let us firstly go deeper into the concept. 'A-Lex' is based on the book 'A Clockwork Orange' of Anthony Burgess. Many people are familiar with the violent movie by Stanley Kubrick, but few know that the book contains one chapter more with a completely different (more positive) ending of the story. The protagonist Alex returns there to society and builds up a normal life. Alex's love for Ludwig van Beethoven is illustrated by the fully classical 'Ludwig Van' (with a melody of the ninth symphony), a track that many Sepultura fans may surely skip. To be honest, I don't like it much either, though it fits the story. It may be obvious that Sepultura takes some risks and this makes them a stronger band, making it more engrossing for themselves and the listener.
Which is necessary, since they had to go on without Max and Iggor, after the melodramatic reunion of the Cavalera Brothers (now Cavalera Conspiracy). After accepting the services of Roy Mayorga (now Stone Sour) for a while, they have found a new percussionist in Jean Dolabella. The album is divided in four chapters, every now and then interrupted by an instrumental, atmospheric intermezzo under the moniker 'A-Lex' (in Russian it means lawless, a double meaning). Soon the band cuts loose in the well-known raging thrash brutality, with screaming hardcore vocals of Derrick Green and fast and furious guitar skills of Andreas Kisser. Angry, ramming thrash which includes a bit ethnic chants and percussion, but only in the track 'Filthy Rot'. Nicely connected are the repetitive, semi-acoustic guitars, the start of the single 'We've Lost You'. A very good song with melodic guitar parts. A short roaring track as 'What I do!' does not move me on the other hand. And so it goes up and down for a while till we arrive at the stunners. 'Sadistic Values', a longer track, is a highlight which evolves from quiescent vocals (he can do it!) and atmospheric guitar sounds to ultra tight chopping riffs with distorted vocals. The best heavier tracks are 'Forceful Behavior' and the angry 'Strike'. You can hear there is a lot of rage in this album, that's obvious. But many brief moments of tranquillity as well. Whether these give the extreme parts more power or whether they take the speed out of the album, is a conclusion everyone has to make for themselves. For me the first opinion applies. I have peace with the conceptual Sepultura. 'A-Lex' was perfected by Stanley Soares and George Marino for production/mastering. Listen to it three times and you will be addicted to this record.