One of the most defining bands of the 1990s, Sepultura led the second wave of thrash metal bands which included the likes of Pantera, Death Angle, and Machine Head. But Sepultura is not a straightforward metal band. Mixing influences from their native Brazil, Sepultura, which means “grave” in Portuguese, does not fit into any single category, but instead creates their own unique brand of metal.
In the capital city of Minas Gerais, Brazil, teenagers Max and Igor Cavalera formed Sepultura in 1984. The name was inspired by the recent death of their father and the devastating impact it had on the brothers. The same day their father died Max was listening to Black Sabbath Volume 4. When he translated their song, “Dancing on Your Grave”, the word Sepultura stood out.
As with many metal bands of that era, the brothers were influenced by Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, along with Black Sabbath until they heard Venom which changed their focus. It was only a year later when the band was signed with Cogumelo Records and they released their first EP, Bestial Devastation which took a mere two days to record and produce.
The band’s first full length album, Morbid Visions, was released in August 1986 and contained their first hit song, “Troops of Doom”. It was then that the band decided to move to Sao Paulo.
Frequent changes in the band’s lineup were nothing new even from the very beginning. In 1987, Andreas Kisser joined the band and they released their second album, Schizophrenia. This introduced a more thrash-metal sound and became a cult-hit in Europe and America with copies of the album being scares in many areas of the world.
But it was Sepultura’s third album, Beneath the Remains, which was released in 1989 that proved to be their big breakthrough. Recorded in Rio de Janeiro, the album became enormously successful and is still considered one of the classic death/thrash metal albums ever produced. After performing in front of over 100,000 at the Rock in Rio II festival in 1991, the band was reaching the height of its popularity.
Throughout the 1990s, Sepultura continued to release critically praised thrash metal albums that combined their Brazilian roots with the death metal scene. Their unique sound continued to evolve over subsequent albums that carried them to the peak of popularity by the middle of the decade. However, the departure of Max Cavalera who handled the vocal duties at this time marked a change in the band’s fortunes.
Sepultura continued to find new members, release new albums, and maintain their acclaimed status on the touring scene. However, Igor left before the release of their 2009 album, A-Lex, which again had a major impact on the band. While the quality and ferocious power of Sepultura has yet to wane, it does seem the fortunes of the band have been tied to the Cavalera brothers.
Sepultura is still going strong having released its fifteenth studio album, Quadra, in 2020. Although Sepultura has arguably past its peak popularity, it is still a driving force in the thrash metal scene.