Brazil's legendary Sepultura left a legacy of thrash & groove metal for almost forty years. Incorporating their Brazilian heritage and culture into their sound, making them one of the most diverse metal acts in history. Formed in 1984 by brothers, vocalist and guitarist Max Cavalera and drummer Igor Cavalera. The band would originate with a black/death metal sound in the vein of Celtic Frost and Venom with the band's debut album Morbid Visions in 1986. After the addition of guitarist Andreas Kisser to the band, Sepultura would change direction with their sound into a more thrash-heavy sound with classic albums like Beneath The Remains and Arise. Then, the band would transform again into a thrashier, groove metal leading sound, with the releases Chaos A.D. and Roots. After Max Cavalera would quit the band in 1996 over management issues and form Soulfly, the band hired Derrick Green and has been with the band since his debut on the album Against as their vocalist. Igor left the band in 2006, after the release of Dante XIII, and was replaced by Jean Turrer Dolabella until 2013, who would then be replaced by Eloy Casagrande, who made his debut on the album The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be The Heart.

With the band officially announcing a farewell tour and no more studio albums as of the time of this article, let's deep dive into this Brazilian metal acts lengthy discography. Look at the impact they have left on heavy metal, what is the top Sepultura album for die-hard fans, critics, and a guide for new fans on where to start with the band.


Cavalera Conspiracy "Morbid Visions/Bestial Devastation" (2023)

Though this is technically cheating since this is not done by Sepultura, I have to include it since it has the founding members performing these songs as well as the huge success from the fans and critics regarding these re-recordings. Released in 2023, the Cavalera brothers, with their band Cavalera Conspiracy, would re-record the band's debut album, along with the  accompanying E.P. Bestial Devastation. Channeling the band's original sound with their re-recording and an audio mix giving it the nostalgia feel and sound of the original release. This was a great homage to the band's legacy and was very well done. Showing the evolution of how far the band has come in their sound, while recapturing the energy of the band's infancy with modern day production.

Under A Pale Grey Sky (2002)

Released by Roadrunner Records after dropping the band, as well as not being endorsed by the band, this was, according to sources I have found, the last concert of the original lineup. Max Cavalera would leave the band after this concert, putting the band in limbo until Green would join the band. With the band mainly performing their Roots album on this double disc live album, it is a record that shows the band performing at their strongest, while also being a turning point for the band.

Revolusongs (E.P.) (2002)

Released in the deluxe edition of 2003's Roorback, this collection of covers is an eclectic mix of covers from some of the band's favorite acts. The song "Bullet The Blue Sky" by U2 was released as the single for the album. With covers from such acts as Publie Enemy, Exodus, Metallica, and Devo, it is a diverse lineup of songs for the band to cover.

15) Against (1998)

Against is the first album to debut new vocalist Derrick Green, who replaced former front man Max Cavalera. The record would continue the tribal influences it dived heavily into on Roots, leaning more towards Japanese culture with the percussion and some instrumentation. Green delivers a strong debut on the album, with his vocals similar to Max's, but also unique and his own on other song. Igor's drumming is top-notch throughout the album. The record sounds aggressive, but more high-energy in its output and performance (the opening track "Against" for example). The nu-metal elements can be heard in the guitars, but seems to not have the same punch and catchiness as they had on Roots. Considered by the fanbase as not the strongest in the band's discography, the band would get stronger with some citing this record as having moments that show that they were onto the early stages of fine-tuning their sound again post-Max, and adapting with Green as their new vocalist.

SONGS TO CHECK OUT: "Choke", "Tribus" and "Boycott"

14) Roorback (2003)

With more grit in the production and more following in the groove metal patht with this record, the band released Roorback. The down-tuned guitars add that trademark groove metal sound Sepultura made famous on Chaos A.D. With a bleakness in the band's lyrics and Kisser's solo and piercing guitar wails hit so hard in a good pair of headphones, the album has a nihilistic, all hope is gone feel to the album. The elements of nu-metal are still present, which I think sometimes hurts a lot of the songs or makes a lot of the song sound repetitive or lackluster, which sucks since the drumming and Green's vocals are strong on this record. This would also be the last record the band would incorporate the nu-metal elements and go on full thrash and groove metal direction with the follow up Dante XXI.

SONGS TO CHECK OUT: "Mind War", "Bullet The Blue Sky (U2 cover)", "Corrupted"

13) Machine Messiah (2017)

After a three year gap in releases, Sepultura came back with another concept album with Machine Messiah. Tackling the idea of a "God Machine", the record is complex and progressive with it's opening title track.  Very thrashy and heavy in the band's sound and production. Green's vocals sound as pissed and visceral as ever. The record sounds like Sepultura with the band's complexity in instrumentation and strings beginning to showcase more on this album and on future releases. Although, to me, it sounds like all the songs sound similar or that feeling of one song kind of bleeding into another (minus the opening track). I don't like to use the term forgettable, but I feel like there isn't a lot of strong tracks off the album.

SONGS TO CHECK OUT: "Phantom Self", "I Am The Enemy", "Sworn Oath"

12) Kairos (2011)

A more downtuned, gritty and heavy sounding album, Kairos is the band seeing where they could take their trademark sound. The band's sound on the record almost has a more modern death metal sound that bands like Gojira would later popularize with later releases like Magma, which shows how ahead of the curve they were on this album. Kisser again is a riff machine throughout the whole record, knowing how to create a thrash-heavy riff, into a groovy chugging riff, or a emotional wailing guitar solo on this album. The band's take on the Ministry classic "Just One Fix", almost morphing the song into a Sepultura original, with Green's screaming, guttural highs and the modern day production and sound, making the track their own. A unique record, some would consider it a transitional record as the next three would show the band jumping further into the concept album themes as well as making their music more grandiose and to a larger scale.

SONGS TO CHECK OUT: "Kairos", "Just One Fix (Ministry cover)" and "Mask"

11) A-Lex (2009)

The band's second concept album, A-Lex takes its themes from the 1962 novel A Clockwork Orange. The album started to incorporate more of the elements from their previous album Dante XXI. Adding atmosphere, strings and dynamics to the band's sound, encompassing the theme of the dark subject matter of the novel. Drummer Jean Dolabella adds thundering punch in his drum strikes throughout the record, which is almost a Sepultura staple at this point. The band incorporates even some death metal style tremolo playing by Kisser, adding a darker like sound in the songs. Kisser shreds his ass off on this record, channeling the nostalgic wails and shrieks you would have heard on any classic Slayer record and just adds more punch and vigor to the band's performance.

SONGS TO CHECK OUT: "We've Lost You", "Filthy Rot" and "The Treatment"

10) Nation (2001)

Their second album with Green, Nation had a better direction and focus from the band following the luke-warm reception of Against. The album featured many guest appearances. Biafra appears again with the band on "Politricks", Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed on "Human Cause" and violin act Apocalyptica on the album's closer "Valtio". The record is definitely an improvement, focusing more on the groove metal elements previous to Roots, with little flurries of the nu-metal sound, the band had finally right the ship and was heading in the right direction with this release. The mix is great on this album, with Igor's drumming punching through heavy and adding a thundering pulse to the songs on this album. The songs through the album have elements of thrash, punk, hardcore and groove, creating a smorgasbord of diverse genres throughout the album. I myself was not a fan of the record on first listen, but re-listening to it for this ranking, it is a dark horse in the band's early incarnation with Green.

SONGS TO CHECK OUT: "Vox Populi", "Politricks" & "Sepulnation"

09) Dante XXI (2006)

Based on The Divine Comedy by Dante, Sepultura delved into the concept album landscape with this release. I LOVE Kisser's guitar tone on the record, almost reminiscent of Fear Factory and their guitarist Dino Cazares' guitar sound on this record. Igor's final album with the band, showing off his impressive presence behind the drumkit. Channeling a classic thrash sound on this record, the album is a guitar lover's dream album. Kisser's chugging riffs into intensely-fast playing is just so strong and prominent on the record. It features elements of the groove metal sound that a lot of fans like, the thrash sound that die-hard fans would like, along with new experimentation with ambience and instrumentation for new fans. A very heavy record and one of the best concept albums the band has done, not only capturing the aesthetics of The Divine Comedy, but also the feel of the record in the atmosphere, instrumentation and feel of the record.

SONGS TO CHECK OUT: "Convicted in Life", "Fighting On", "Ostia"

08) Morbid Visions (1986)

This would be the band's debut record and a different sound and themes that the band would later became known for. Leaning towards the early extreme metal sounds of Celtic Frost and Venom, along with lyrical themes of Satanism and the occult. Compared to the political themes the band would adopt on later records, it is a far departure from the band we know today in lyrics and sound. The production is considered poor by the band. Even Max Cavalera stated that at the time of making the record, the band neglected to even tune their guitars. Adding to the demo-like, rough and ready style sound of the album. Though it is still a good record musically, production and mixing wise, it does hurt the overall feel of the record. It is still a fast and heavy extreme metal album and is worth checking out, either this version or the re-recorded version I mentioned in my honorable mentions section.

SONGS TO CHECK OUT: "Troops of Doom", "Morbid Visions", "War"

07) Roots (1996)

Roots would be a bittersweet album for the band. One of the band's most popular and well-known records, the band would take their cultural influence to a bigger scale on this album, along with incorporating elements of the rising nu-metal genre of the mid 90's. Featuring guest appearances by Jonathan Davis of Korn, Mike Patton of Faith No More and DJ Lethal of Limp Bizkit on the track "Lookaway", showing the influence and heft that the up and coming genre would affect in the making of the album. This would also be Max Cavalera's last album with the band, as he would quit the band following management disputes in 1996. Going on to form his new project Soulfly, which continues the direction from Roots, following in the groove metal/nu-metal sound that his former band was doing at the time. Featuring live staples from the band like "Roots Bloody Roots" and "Attitude", along with the heavy and eclectic song "Ratamahatta", it is a classic swansong of the Max-fronted era of the band.

SONGS TO CHECK OUT: "Roots Bloody Roots", "Attitude" and "Ratamahatta"

06) Schizophrenia (1987)

The first studio album to feature guitarist Andreas Kisser, the album was a huge improvement from the band's debut Morbid Visions. This album would show the band begin to start to veer away from the extreme metal and start to head into the burgeoning thrash metal sound that was rising in the 80's. Max's vocals still have that cavernous reverb sound on the release, with Igor's heavy thrash drumming and the riff machine that Kisser provided show the band was on to something big. With this record, this album would not only introduce American fans to the band, but would begin to put them as a band to check out outside of the "Big Four" of thrash metal and to put them on the same level as other international thrash acts like Kreator and Sodom.

SONGS TO CHECK OUT: "From The Past Comes The Storms", "R.I.P. (Rest In Pain", "Screaming Behind The Shadows"

05) The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be The Heart (2013)

With The Mediator, according to Green, the band went into a darker, more sinister sound with this release. Based on the 1927 sci-fi film Metropolis, its sci-fi themed lyrics, with little flurries of sci-fi-esque sounds, like in the album's opening track, make it unique to the band's sound and take on the concept of the record. The music and mix just sound brooding and dark. Green's vocals punch through in-between chugging guitars from Kisser. New drummer Eloy Casagrande hits so hard on the drum kit, hearing every booming and thundering hit on the kit. With more atmosphere, with the accompaniment of strings & choirs, creating a Hollywood blockbuster type feel. It adds weight to the album and heaviness when it kicks in. A really strong, heavy, pissed-off, yet complex record, it is a great underrated gem.

SONGS TO CHECK OUT: "The Vatican", "Trauma of War", "The Bliss of Ignorants"

04) Chaos A.D. (1993)

On Chaos A.D., the band would stylistically move away from their thrash metal sound, which the fanbase was divided on. Utilizing lower guitar tunings, the sound would move to a more groove metal style, with songs like "Territory". Creating an influential groove metal sound, along with Pantera, that would create a lot of popular metal acts of the 90's and 2000's like Machine Head, Lamb of God and DevilDriver. The album would also begin to incorporate their Brazilian heritage with the instrumental piece "Kaiowas" and the opening drums of "Refuse/Resist", a staple that the band would incorporate in later releases, along with Max's next project Soulfly. With other popular songs like "Refuse/Resist, "Slave New World", and a guest appearance from Jello Biafra of Dead Kennedys on "Biotech is Godzilla", it is a great record in the groove metal genre and the beginning of what the Sepultura sound would begin to finally evolve into.

SONGS TO CHECK OUT: "Refuse/Resist", "Territory", "Slave New World"

03) Quadra (2020)

The end of an era, the final album from Sepultura. Released after the world recovered from the COVID-19 Pandemic, which the band recorded a collection of quarantine covers with guest artists on their YouTube channel and released them as a compilation album Sepulquarta in 2021 during that time. The album is another concept album. Based on numerology, the number four and the significance as depicted on quadrivium, which was studied by Pluto. The band's most successful album, it is also an amazing conceptual record. Featuring four sections directly focused on one particular genre, continuing the concept of the album. One section of thrash metal to the band's origins, one of the groove and percussion heavy era of the band's peak. The third, a more progressive movement in its structure and the fourth being more melodic and slow-paced, while still delivering the Sepultura sound in the delivery and performance. If this truly is the last album from the band, this is an amazing magnum opus to an almost forty year career for these Brazilian legends.

SONGS TO CHECK OUT: "Isolation", "Last Time", "Raging Void"

02) Arise (1991)

Taking the intensity and aggression from Beneath The Remains, the band would go heavier with Arise. Continuing with the thrash heavy direction of the previous record, you would begin to start to hear elements of groove and slow-down in some songs, especially at the end of "Dead Embryonic Cells". These elements would be further developed and brought forward on the follow-up Chaos A.D. Max delivers his pissed-off intensity in his vocals, with Kisser creating impressive speed and intensity in the guitars, with Igor driving the beat with intricate and complex drumming throughout the album. An impressive follow-up, especially after following the succession and influence that Beneath The Remains would leave on the thrash metal genre.

SONGS TO CHECK OUT: "Arise", "Dead Embryonic Cells", "Desperate Cry"

01) Beneath The Remains (1989)

Continuing the more thrash metal sound the band adopted on Schizophrenia, the band would go even faster, heavier and thrashier with the follow up Beneath The Remains. With better quality production, the band seemed to narrow down the direction and sound they wanted and with this release. While not only become a thrash metal classic upon release, but would officially cement the band as one of the best in the thrash genre. With Igor's insanely fast thrash drumming and Max's trademark barking/shouting vocal style, along with Kisser shredding up a storm throughout the entire album. It truly is a landmark in the thrash genre and one of the strongest releases in the band's discography. A must listen for any thrash metal fan as well as one of the best albums of the Max-fronted era of the band.

SONGS TO CHECK OUT: "Inner Self", "Mass Hypnosis", "Beneath The Remains"

Do you agree with my ranking? What would your rankings be? What's your favorite Sepultura album? Let us know on the comments of our social media and tell us why what album should be ranked where!

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