dB HoF No. 133
Label: Roadrunner Records
Release date: April 2nd, 1991
"Arise was the seed that exploded on Roots,” Sepultura guitarist Andreas Kisser thoughtfully notes. Those of you keeping score will note that this is Sepultura’s third dance with our Hall of Fame, a dB first. As for 1991’s Arise lighting the charge that blew five years and two albums later on Roots, well, you could interpret that in a variety of ways: vocalist/guitarist Max Cavalera was starting to test songwriting solitude; native Brazilian music and percussion was being explored and incorporated; the band transformed from “third world posse” into a finely honed professional machine. The commercial success of Arise not only made them darlings around the Roadrunner office, but presented them with a license to rewrite the rules.
Arise includes no less than four stone-cold classics—“Dead Embryonic Cells,” “Desperate Cry,” “Murder” and the title track—making it no small wonder that your favorite metal magazine has crowned it the definitive underground metal album of 1991, probably metal’s last full calendar year atop the heap before a bunch of rain-soaked whiners from the Pacific Northwest conquered the music industry. Previous to that, mainstream metal, like it or not, was kicking ass and taking names. From Skid Row and Guns N’ Roses to Metallica, metal and the mainstream had joined together in a yearlong, spine-crushing bear hug. Not to be deterred, the underground was having its share of success as well. Solid albums from Type O Negative, Confessor and Paradise Lost—as well as topshelf releases by Suffocation, Morbid Angel, Cathedral, and many more—demonstrated that the underground (and especially death metal) was alive and well.
Then along came Sepultura, hot off the heels of 1989’s Beneath the Remains, attacking with a deeper sense of conviction and dedication to their art. They not only bridged the gap between death and thrash metal, but when Arise hit the racks, they became a shining example of the quality brewing underneath the glitz of multiplatinum metal. Arise disappointed nary an ear in the mainstream or underground. MTV couldn’t ignore the demand for videos like “Dead Embryonic Cells” and the title track, despite the latter originally being banned due to objectionable religious content. Sepultura even found a home on Billboard; Arise’s peak at #119 made them the scene’s biggest commercial success. Less than five years previous, this sort of thing was unfathomable to hardcore heshers.
Arise may have been Roots’ support structure, but as a standalone slice of artistic fury, it remains one of metal’s most complete works—an album that erupted in its own right in regards to creative output, quality control, popularity and staying power, standing the test of time from one of metal’s most fruitful years. Third time’s a charm, indeed.
- Kevin Stewart-Panko
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