Saturday, May 9, 2009

Sepultura - Beneath the Remains (1989)

A few months ago, I realized that I used to be able to play guitar a lot faster than I currently am able to. This bummed me out, as I don't like getting worse at things, so I've been working out that ol' picking hand with lots of Sepultura. Some of the parts on this record were cramping my forearm up all over the damn place, but, after watching a few tube videos, I realized that fools are alternate picking where I was downpicking. Maybe the ol' pickaroo isn't so bad these days after all! I still don't understand how Igor can play his damn hi-hat so fast, though.

Anyway, I named this very blog after a track on this album, so just apply all of the good feelings you have about my writing to listening to Sepultura, and you'll be on the right track.

The thing that makes Sepultura one of my favorite bands is their technique of rapid-fire variation on a theme. The intro to Sarcastic Existence (really cool song title) is a great example; notice how the riff slowly morphs every four bars into something just a little bit different, as rhythmic emphasis shifts and melodies come in and out. Eventually, the riff also evolves vocals, and the linear progression starts to fall back in on itself in a looping structure that abandons past adaptations only to find them again later on in slightly different form. Genius.

Also, the melodic riffing on this record is really great, as most of these songs are based upon E phyrigian with a sharp third, so the tonic triad is major rather than minor. This gives a happier sound than one would expect from most metal records, but the first four notes of the scale are still the ever-popular E-F-G#-A that have provided the basis for countless metal riffs over the years. Perfect examples of what I'm talking about can be found as the intro riff on two back-to-back tracks: Slaves of Pain and Lobotomy. Although it was quite foolish of the track-lister to place these astonishingly similar intros back-to-back, this provides great insight into Sepultura's techniques of riff-craft.


Anonymous said...

20 years old and it's still blowing people away!

Anonymous said...

More like this.