Sepultura and Les Tambours du Bronx – Metal Veins: Alive at Rock in Rio (Eagle Rock Entertainment)

Sunday, 7th September 2014
Rating: 7/10

Editor’s note: This review is of the cd only, the dvd was not available for review.

The tribally inspired percussive elements of Sepultura’s music have always made them stand out from virtually every other metal act. As if simultaneously acknowledging this quality yet thinking it’s not as flagrant as it might be, Sep chose to collaborate with France’s Les Tambours du Bronx, an experimental multi-genre percussion troupe whose primitive stage aesthetics and powerful performances undoubtedly endeared them to the Brazilian powerhouse. The two groups have played together numerous times, but what’s presented here is what was captured at Rock in Rio 2013.

While this may not account for the live experience of those in attendance, what blasts through the listener’s speakers is ultimately a mixed bag. Les Tambours’ synthesized effects and drumline barrage complement the more recent Sepultura numbers to a T: “Spectrum” thrives with added power and menace while “We’ve Lost You,” “Sepulnation,” and “Roots Bloody Roots” equate to merciless aural ground-and-pound. However, with the exception of the opening instrumental, “Kaiowas,” Chaos AD material doesn’t mesh too well with the new presentation.

The verse guitar riff of “Territory” is largely drowned out by forced-sounding, superfluous percussive elements, and Sep plays second-fiddle for almost the entirety of “Refuse/Resist” as tinny clangs and bangs akin to Lars Ulrich’s drumkit overpower the core drive of this fan favorite. Also in this piece, as if wanting to prove the older material doesn’t take to the update, Tambours completely drop out in the hardcore passage. Music may be a universal language, but apparently some things still don’t translate.

Les Tambours’ originals are the most consistent tracks in this collaboration, which makes sense considering the songs were written for a fifteen-plus-piece drum outfit from the go. Sepultura largely provides a rhythmic soundscape for the drummers to go to town here, but the metallic edge lends a new attitude to these tunes, as “Delirium” and “Requiem” would easily sound at home on Roots.

The end product is shaky but enjoyable. Ironically, Sepultura fans looking forward to their favorite band’s new endeavor may burgeon into Tambours fans. Because of the production issues mentioned, though, I wouldn’t expect too many Tambours listeners to reciprocate.

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