Roots (Sepultura album)

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Sepultura - Roots.jpg
Studio album by Sepultura
Released February 20, 1996
Recorded October – December 1995
Studio Indigo Ranch in Malibu, California
Genre Groove metal, nu metal, death metal
Length 72:08
Label Roadrunner
Producer Ross Robinson, Sepultura
Sepultura chronology
Chaos A.D.
(1993)Chaos A.D.1993
Singles from Roots
  1. "Roots Bloody Roots"
    Released: February 18, 1996
  2. "Attitude"
    Released: June 1996
  3. "Ratamahatta"
    Released: October 1996

Roots is the sixth studio album by Brazilian heavy metal band Sepultura. It was released in Europe on February 20, 1996 (1996-02-20) and in the U.S. three weeks later on March 12 by Roadrunner Records. It is the band's last studio album to feature founding member and vocalist/rhythm guitarist Max Cavalera. Following the shift to slower tempos and Latin-tinged rhythms on the album Chaos A.D., Roots delves even further into Brazilian musical textures and features significant contributions from Brazilian musician Carlinhos Brown, who guided and arranged the sections throughout the album that feature ensemble percussion playing. The song "Lookaway" also features guest appearances by Korn vocalist Jonathan Davis, former Korn drummer David Silveria, former Limp Bizkit turntablist DJ Lethal, and Faith No More/Mr. Bungle/Tomahawk/Fantômas vocalist Mike Patton. The album draws influence from the then-surging nu metal movement, specifically Korn (whose first two albums were also produced by Ross Robinson) and Deftones.[1][2] (After leaving the band, Max Cavalera would continue to pursue the nu metal and "world" stylings of Roots with his solo project Soulfly.) Roots has sold 3 million copies worldwide.

Production and lyrics[edit]

The album was produced by Ross Robinson. The majority of the themes presented on Roots are centered on Brazilian politics and culture.[3] The concept for the album was inspired by the film At Play in the Fields of the Lord. The movie inspired Max Cavalera to travel to Mato Grosso, Brazil to visit the Xavante tribe.[4] The album cover features an indigenous woman taken from a banknote of the discontinued Brazilian cruzeiro, to which artist Michael Whelan added a locket with Sepultura's "tribal S" logo and a background of red roots.[5]

A lot of the music on Roots reflects Brazil's history and culture.[6] According to Max Cavalera, "Roots Bloody Roots" is "about believe in yourself, about be proud of your heritage, proud of where you come from. Really powerful but simple lyrics. So it's really about just be down with your own roots and believe in your roots".[7] "Cut Throat" is about Epic Records.[8] "Ratamahatta" is "a celebration of life in Brazil's slums, sung all in Portuguese, which tells the stories of" people "like Ze Do Caixo (Coffin Joe) and Lampiao, the leader of an early 1900s outlaw gang from north Brazil, whose head was put on public display after he was captured".[8] "Ambush" is "a tribute to murdered South American rain-forest activist Chico Mendes".[8]

Musical style and influences[edit]

The inspiration for Sepultura's new musical direction was twofold. One was the desire to further experiment with the music of Brazil, especially the percussive type played by Salvador, Bahia samba reggae group Olodum.[9] Another innovation Roots brought was the inspiration taken from the sound of Korn - especially their debut, with its heavily down-tuned guitars.[10]

The music of Roots has sounds of world music,[11] death metal,[12][13][11][14] nu metal,[15] thrash metal,[15] tribal music[6] and Brazilian folk music.[6]

The band incorporated these elements into almost all songs in the album, and one of them ("Itsári") was actually recorded with members of the Xavante Indians at their ancestral home. Meeting the Xavante Indians meant a lot to Sepultura. Igor says that the band identified a lot with the natives: "In a certain way, I think that we, as a band, had a lot of things in common with the Xavante Indians. We also lived on the edge of society, and our music and lifestyle is a long way from being assimilated and respected by that society."[16] A spokesman of the tribe declared: "We had seen pictures of Sepultura and we knew that they were different, with their long hair and many tattoos. We also knew that they had been discriminated, like we were. Because of that we were very curious about them."[16] Some songs also include participation ("Ratamahatta", "Dictatorshit" and "Endangered Species") and co-writing ("Ratamahatta") from Carlinhos Brown, a popular Brazilian musician. The political theme and influence of hardcore punk on the album are further reflected in the topic of "Dictatorshit", namely the 1964 Brazilian coup d'état.[3] The lyrics to "Attitude" were co-written by Dana Wells, Max Cavalera's stepson, whose death (in part) led to the events which caused Max to leave the band. Dana also came up with the concept for the video for the song, featuring Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu experts the Gracie family.

In 2008, speaking to Kerrang!, Max Cavalera remembered:

"Roots came from a blurry dream I had about going to the rainforest. Wine may have been involved. In the end, when we actually went into the forest to record, it was unbelievable. The whole album was a huge personal journey for me, and as a Brazilian, it felt as an incredible achievement. Everyone was inspired and Igor was at the top of his game. The percussion was crazy and we worked with so many great musicians, in the end coming out with a 15-minutes drum jam that someone likened to a crazy Brazilian Pink Floyd. When we took the album to Roadrunner they loved it except for the title. They thought it would sound like a Bob Marley tribute album. We explained it to them, and thankfully they got it."[17]

The last words in the song "Cut-Throat" are "Enslavement, Pathetic, Ignorant, Corporations". This spells EPIC, the record company with which Sepultura had some trouble during their previous album, Chaos A.D.[3]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[12]
Entertainment Weekly C−[18]
NME (7/10)[19]
Q 3/5 stars[19]
Robert Christgau (dud)[20]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[21]
Spin (6/10)[19]
Stylus Magazine A− (1996)
B− (2005 Rerelease)[22]
Yahoo! Music (favorable)[23]

American newspapers like The New Times, the Daily News and the Los Angeles Times reviewed the Brazilian band: "The mixture of the dense metal of Sepultura and the Brazilian music has a intoxicating effect", wrote a Los Angeles Times reviewer.[16] The Daily News praised the album saying: "Sepultura reinvented the wheel. By mixing metal with native instruments, the band resuscitates the tired genre, reminding of Led Zeppelin times. But while Zeppelin mixed English metal with African beats, it's still more moving to hear a band that uses elements of its own country. By extracting the sounds of the past, Sepultura determines the future direction of metal".[24]

Specialized heavy metal critics also reviewed the album positively. Martin Popoff, author of the book The Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal, ranked Roots as the 11th best metal record of all time. "This is a spectacular metal and futurist hardcore LP", wrote Popoff, "a masterpiece, accomplished by a band with an enormous heart and an even larger intellect". Kerrang! magazine awarded Roots second place in the list of "100 records that you have to hear before dying"; just after In Utero from Nirvana.[24] In 2001 Q magazine named Roots as one of the 50 Heaviest Albums Of All Time.[25] Rolling Stone Brasil named it the 57th best Brazilian music album.[26] Rolling Stone (3/21/96, p. 98) gave the album three stars out of five and said, "Sepultura play a violent game of sonic overload... the band uses its catharsis as a creative force, funneling torrents of noise into a tunnel of hate." Music critic Robert Christgau gave the album a negative "dud" rating.[27] Looking back on the album 20 years later, PopMatters contributor Saby Reyes-Kulkarni referred to Roots as "inarguably one of the most radical [stylistic] departures from convention in heavy metal history."[28]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by Max Cavalera, except where noted; all music composed by Sepultura, except where noted.

No. Title Lyrics Music Length
1. "Roots Bloody Roots"     3:32
2. "Attitude" Max Cavalera, Dana Wells   4:15
3. "Cut-Throat"     2:44
4. "Ratamahatta" (feat. David Silveria & Carlinhos Brown) Sepultura, Carlinhos Brown Sepultura, Carlinhos Brown 4:30
5. "Breed Apart" Andreas Kisser, Max Cavalera   4:01
6. "Straighthate"     5:21
7. "Spit"     2:45
8. "Lookaway" (feat. Jonathan Davis, Mike Patton & DJ Lethal) Jonathan Davis Sepultura, DJ Lethal 5:26
9. "Dusted" Andreas Kisser Andreas Kisser 4:03
10. "Born Stubborn"     4:07
11. "Jasco" (instrumental) Andreas Kisser 1:57
12. "Itsári" (instrumental) Xavante Tribe, Sepultura 4:48
13. "Ambush"     4:39
14. "Endangered Species"     5:19
15. "Dictatorshit"     1:26
16. "Canyon Jam" (unlisted hidden track) (instrumental)   13:16
Total length: 72:08

The Roots of Sepultura[edit]

The Roots of Sepultura
The Roots of Sepultura.jpg
Compilation album by Sepultura
Released 29 November 1996
Genre Thrash metal, death metal
Length 73:37
Language English, Portuguese
Label Roadrunner
Compiler Monte Conner, Borivoj Krgin
Sepultura chronology
The Roots of Sepultura

The Roots of Sepultura is a double-disc album by Sepultura, released in November 1996. It was a collection of unreleased tracks, b-sides, alternate mixes, and live recordings.[29] This release is unique from Roots and the 2005 25th Anniversary Roots album as the B-Sides disc has a drastically different series of tracks. This album contains a unique cover of tracks by Motörhead, Dead Kennedys, Os Mutantes and Ratos de Porão paying tribute to the bands that heavily influenced Sepultura, and also includes tracks from their first live home video Under Siege (Live in Barcelona).

Track listing
No. Title Length
1. "Intro" 1:33
2. "C.I.U. (Criminals in Uniform)" 4:17
3. "Orgasmatron" (Motörhead cover) 4:15
4. "Dead Embryonic Cells" (original mix) 4:31
5. "Desperate Cry" (original mix) 6:42
6. "Murder" (original mix) 3:25
7. "Under Siege (Regnum Irae)" (original mix) 4:44
8. "Necromancer" (demo) 3:59
9. "The Past Reborns the Storms" 5:08
10. "A Hora e a Vez do Cabelo Nascer" (Os Mutantes cover) 2:21
11. "Drug Me" (Dead Kennedys cover) 1:53
12. "Crucificados Pelo Sistema" (Ratos de Porão cover, Slave New World 1994 B-Side) 1:03
13. "Anticop" (live) 3:02
14. "Intro" (live) 1:30
15. "Arise" (live) 2:51
16. "Inner Self" (live) 4:42
17. "Mass Hypnosis" (live) 4:25
18. "Escape to the Void" (live) 5:03
19. "Troops of Doom" (live) 2:53
20. "Altered State" (live) 5:20

Chart positions and award certifications[edit]

Album - Billboard (North America)

Year Chart Position
1996 The Billboard 200 27[30]
1996 UK Albums Chart 4[31]

Album - Music recording sales certifications

Year Country Award Number sold
1996 UK Silver 60,000[32]
1997 Australia Gold 35,000[33]
1997 Canada Gold 50,000[34]
1997 France Gold 100,000[35]
1997 Brazil Gold 100,000[36]
1998 Austria Gold 10,000[37]
1999 UK Gold 100,000[32]
1999 USA Gold 500,000[38]
Unknown Netherlands Gold 30,000[39]



  1. ^ "IGOR CAVALERA Admits KORN Influence On SEPULTURA's 'Roots' But Says 'There Was A Lot More Going On'". BLABBERMOUTH.NET. 2016-10-09. Retrieved 2017-01-22. 
  2. ^ "JONATHAN DAVIS Recalls Thinking SEPULTURA's 'Roots' Album Was 'Blatant KORN Rip-Off'". BLABBERMOUTH.NET. 2016-10-07. Retrieved 2017-01-22. 
  3. ^ a b c Barcinski & Gomes 1999, page 150.
  4. ^ Chirazi, Steffan (2005). "The Roots of Sepultura". Roots (CD booklet). Sepultura. New York, NY: Roadrunner Records. p. 15. 
  5. ^ SEPULTURA's 'Roots' Is One Of 'Ten Greatest Covers In Roadrunner History', Blabbermouth
  6. ^ a b c Epstein, Dan (September 9, 2016). "Max and Iggor Cavalera Talk Revisiting Sepultura's 'Roots' for Tour". Rolling Stone. 
  7. ^ Prato, Greg (February 20, 2014). "Max Cavalera of Soulfly (ex-Sepultura)". Songfacts. 
  8. ^ a b c Holthouse, David (October 24, 1996). "Boys From Brazil". Phoenix New Times. 
  9. ^ Barcinski & Gomes 1999, pages 113 & 150.
  10. ^ Chirazi, Steffan (2005). "Closing Thoughts on Roots". Roots (CD booklet). Sepultura. New York, NY: Roadrunner Records. p. 22. 
  11. ^ a b Rivadavia, Eduardo. "Sepultura - Music Biography, Credits and Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-10-28. 
  12. ^ a b Huey, Steve. "Roots - Sepultura". AllMusic. Retrieved November 16, 2011. 
  13. ^ Bukszpan 2003 pg 226, "In 1996, they released Roots, whose down-tuned death metal aggression was tempered by the incorporation of Brazilian musical and precussion instruments,"
  14. ^ "Sepultura is coming". Philstar. Retrieved 2012-10-28. 
  15. ^ a b Dimery 2006 pg 782, "Drawing on Brazilian Latin and tribal music, nu-metal, and Sepultura's own thrash/death style, the results were unique,"
  16. ^ a b c "Sepultura: Chapter 9: The Calm Before the Storm". Retrieved October 27, 2010. 
  17. ^ Cavalera, Max / Beebee, Steve. Kerrang! Magazine. #1213, June 07, 2008. Treasure Chest. An Intimate Portrait Of A Life in Rock. P. 52
  18. ^ Eddy, Chuck (May 10, 1996). "Roots Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 3, 2012. 
  19. ^ a b c "Sepultura - Roots CD Album". CD Universe. Retrieved December 3, 2012. 
  20. ^ Christgau, Robert. "CG: Sepultura". Retrieved December 3, 2012. 
  21. ^ Wiederhorn, Jon (March 21, 1996). "Sepultura: Roots : Music Reviews". Rolling Stone: 98. Archived from the original on December 29, 2007. Retrieved December 3, 2012. 
  22. ^ Lee, Cosmo (June 23, 2005). "Sepultura - Roots - Review". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved November 16, 2011. 
  23. ^ Masuo, Sandy (March 12, 1996). "Roots". Yahoo! Music. Archived from the original on August 31, 2005. Retrieved December 3, 2012. 
  24. ^ a b Barcinski & Gomes, page 153.
  25. ^ "Q 50 Heaviest Albums Of All Time". Retrieved November 16, 2011. 
  26. ^ "Os 100 maiores discos da música brasileira" (in Portuguese). Umas Linhas. 2007-12-20. Archived from the original on 2010-07-02. Retrieved 2009-04-20. 
  27. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Robert Christgau: CG 90s: Key to Icons". Robert Christgau Official Website. Retrieved 2011-10-20. 
  28. ^ "Greetings From the Third World: Revisiting Sepultura's Genre-Changing 'Roots'". PopMatters. Retrieved 2017-01-22. 
  29. ^ Prato, Greg. "The Roots of Sepultura review". AllMusic. Retrieved 20 December 2011. 
  30. ^ "Top Music Charts - Hot 100 - Billboard 200 - Music Genre Sales". Billboard Music Charts. Retrieved 2008-04-27.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  31. ^ "SEPULTURA: Discography: Career Albums". MusicMight: The World's Biggest Rock Resource on the Web. Retrieved 2008-05-24.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  32. ^ a b "Certified awards". THE BPI. Archived from the original on 2008-04-09. Retrieved 2008-05-03.  External link in |publisher= (help) Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "ukcertification" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  33. ^ "ARIA Charts - Accreditations - 1997 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 2008-05-23.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  34. ^ "Search Certification Database". Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA). Retrieved 2008-04-27.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  35. ^ "Les certifications Albums - Année 1997". Musique sur Disque en France (SNEP). Archived from the original on 2007-12-17. Retrieved 2008-04-27.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  36. ^ Barcinski & Gomes 1999, page 143.
  37. ^ "Gold und Platin Datenbank". IFPI Austria, Verband der Österreichischen Musik Wirstchaft. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-27.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  38. ^ "GOLD AND PLATINUM - Searchable Database". RIAA. Retrieved 2008-04-27.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  39. ^ "Goud/Platina Muziek". nvpi. Retrieved 2008-04-27.  External link in |publisher= (help)
Further reading
  • Barcinski, André & Gomes, Silvio (1999). Sepultura: Toda a História. São Paulo: Ed. 34. ISBN 85-7326-156-0
  • Sepultura (1996). Roots. [CD]. New York, NY: Roadrunner Records. The 25th Anniversary Series (2-CD Reissue, 2005).
  • Thoroddsen, Arnar (2006). Dimery, Robert, ed. 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. Quintet Publishing Limited. ISBN 0-7893-1371-5. 
  • Bukszpan, Daniel; James Dio, Ronnie (2003). The Encyclopedia of Heavy Metal. Barnes & Noble Publishing Inc. ISBN 0-7607-4218-9.