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Review of the Album "Roots" by Brazilian Heavy Metal Band Sepultura the Last Album to Have Max Cavalera as a Member

Updated on July 8, 2023
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Ara is a journalism graduate from California State University, Northridge, who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.

The Significance of the Album "Roots"

Sepultura has been one of those death and thrash metal bands that really got my attention back in high school. They have dealt with lineup changes, a common occurrence for the majority of bands. Their 1996 album called “Roots” is the last album to have Max Cavalera as a member. Why is this significant? This is because after the departure of Max, the band would get weaker for a while from 1998 all the way through 2003.


How is "Roots" Different From Earlier Sepultura Albums?

The album "Roots" is a little more groove based and is less melodic than their 1991 album called "Arise." The album really explores the cultures and traditions of the Brazilian people as well as addressing toughness, a huge life skill that all of us must have if we want to survive in this world.

"Roots" Album Review Part 3

A similar lyrical theme is shown in the song called “Breed Apart” and sometimes in life, we have to traverse through the jungle on our own terms. The song is one of the weaker ones because the vocals sound too strained. These strained vocals continue with the bass lines in the song called Straight Hate. (Note: I edited the spelling of the song title but readers will still notice which song we are referring to). The song is a decent groovy death metal song being basically like a heavier version of a song like one of the songs that Finnish band Mental Care Foundation would have written. The song does have an important message and that message is that what goes around, comes around. For those of us that decide to spread around hate, that is the feeling that we will attract back to us.

Some of the Weaker Songs in "Roots"

The groove continues in the song called “Spit” as there is another song addressing what can happen in a world where there is much hate. I will admit that when I first listened to a few songs of other Sepultura albums after the departure of Max, I didn’t think too highly of the band overall but here we are in 2018 and in my perspective, Sepultura is still one of the best Brazilian metal bands ever.

"Roots" Weaker Songs Continued

The song called Lookaway is a dirty, distorted, noisy song and another one of the weak songs on this album. The groove factor almost comes like a freight train continuing in the song called Dusted.

How Did Sepultura Explore Their Roots?

The song called Stubborn is similar to the way that the song Psycho by System of a Down would be like because there is this energetic style kind of jumpy beat to it. Max had mentioned back in 1996 that the band was growing stronger every day in every way. They have grown, matured, and explored their roots with songs such as Itsari and Jasco. These two songs consist of chanting, acoustic guitars, and drum beats. The band was able to contact the Xavante Indian tribe which resides in the central jungles of Brazil. They then met the tribe’s chief and they wanted to hear what Sepultura sounded like. So the band showed them the song called Kaiowas. Cavalera himself described the experience saying: “When we finished it they started talking to one another and we couldn’t understand anything they were saying.” But the chief spoke a little Portuguese and he said they liked it and wanted to hear it again. So we played it again. That was probably one of the most intense audiences we’ve ever played for because it was a different kind of audience; it was 200 Indians just sitting down and listening,” (Wiederhorn, 2018).

"Roots" More Pros and Cons

However, Roots is so grove based that it is weaker than Arise or Chaos AD. If an album is too much of one certain style, it has the tendency to become stale musically. However, Sepultura is still better than Slayer, one of the longest active thrash metal bands. This is not a comparison article between the two bands but the point is being made that Sepultura even at its weaker points is better than some strong US bands. To end the album, Canyon Jam is a 13 minute plus drumming kind of session. What are the strongest songs on Roots? They are Roots Bloody Roots, Attitude, Cut-throat, Jasco, Itsari, and Straight Hate so there are several solid songs on this album.

Thoughts About Max Cavalera's Departure from Sepultura

Roots would be the end of Max Cavalera’s time with Sepultura because the band announced that they had wanted to proceed with a brand new management and production staff. They also resented the fact that Cavalera had married the band’s manager Gloria who is many years older than him. This also set off a feud between Max and his younger brother Igor until 2007 when he finally left Sepultura after the release of Dante 21. Cavalera himself was angry about the changes because he felt that things were good. And they were good for Sepultura but the band was so selfish, egotistic, and self-centered that it was good that Max left. Was he really the better front man and vocalist than the person that would replace him? Analyzing Roots as an album more than 25 years later, that is hard to say with any certainty.

Favorite Sepultura Album With Max Cavalera

What is your favorite album with Max Cavalera as lead vocalist?

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"Straight Hate"

Analyzing "Roots" as an Album 25 Years Later

I have grown to like the material with Derrick Green more than I used to. It is with the album Roots that we begin to hear the more groovy side of Sepultura as they would become more of a heavy groove thrash metal band.

Roots will be a very challenging album for their older fans that prefer albums such as Arise. The bass guitar may be louder in this album than their previous albums and I get the sense that there is more of a nu-metal feel to it. It may even be a very angry kind of album too because I can sense that in Max’s voice. Sepultura much like any metal band cannot please everybody and looking back, the changes for the band ended up being for the better. Max was the better vocalist for the band’s earlier material and Derrick Green is a better vocalist for the more modern Sepultura albums so it all evens out pretty much.


Wiederhorn, J. (2018, February 20). 22 YEARS AGO: SEPULTURA EXPLORED THEIR ‘ROOTS’.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2018 Ara Vahanian


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