I used to do a paper round as a kid. I started doing that at 15, just in my local estate. It was pretty handy because I knew the streets of my hood, and my best friend, Damian who lived two doors down from me, also did a round. Our routes would intersect, so we could catch up about half way and have a chinwag if we wanted.
We were both getting into metal pretty heavily around that time. Listening to Triple J, 3PBS, and RRR in Melbourne, searching out the heaviest stuff we could find. I still have cassette tapes from those days, recordings of these awesome radio shows that I would listen to on my paper round at 5:30 am through a shitty Walkman and headphones. It was through these shows that I first heard Sepultura. It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
Inner Self from Beneath The Remains was the very first Sepultura song I heard crackling out of my Tempest double cassette boom box in my bedroom late at night, and it was Max Cavalera’s voice that drew me to the band. Pure power and frightening conviction hooked me in, so when the announcer mentioned that they had a new album coming, I was all about it. The next week, this same announcer played the "new single" Arise, and I had never heard anything like it.
The day came, and Arise was released. In March 1991, I went to my local music shop, (I’m pretty sure it was Brash's, before Sanity became the big outlet) and bought Arise with my paper round money.
We only had one CD player in the house back then, in the lounge room, by the fireplace (to this day it sits in the same place, it’s a kick-arse component system I will one day pinch from my dad).
The thrill of being 15, with a brand new CD, and playing it for the first time is something I will never forget. Poring over the booklet, reading the notes, looking at the insane cover art, (I don’t have it on vinyl.. yet!) and hearing the intro for Arise start gave me goosebumps. I knew what was coming, crisp and louder than I’d ever heard it before, I sat frozen.
This was a massive step forward for Sepultura. Sonically, this was a much more together album than Beneath The Remains, a better mix, a more separated sound rather than a wall of sound. Everything was just a little more polished, and it was FLATOUT FUCKING BRILLIANT.
Sepultura experimented and challenged themselves on this album, and that’s what I love about it. I didn’t know that then, but spending the last few days listening to it again and again, I realised just how much I had retained, I knew where the time changes were, I knew the sounds of the solos in my head, I remembered the lyrics to some of my favourites. Arise made such an impact on me, listening to it intently during my paper-round days, that it truly became a favourite album of all time.
Perhaps I didn’t realize what was happening at the time, but these primal sounds were tapping into my subconscious, the inherent groove and rhythm that we all have inside us. I think that goes some way to explaining why we like certain music. It moves us, and, in metal circles, makes us exclaim "FUCK YEAH" when we hear THAT sound.
Arise is full of killer riffs, sometimes dissonant, but always so powerful. The time changes on this album, I think are what makes it, the exploration into industrial, intros like Altered State that lulls you into the mid-tempo groove, the flow of the album, and Max’s lyrics also took a darker turn. They are INTENSELY powerful and straight down the line. Perfect for a 15-year-old who is looking for an outlet but doesn’t know what he needs. Arise is what I needed.
I mentioned on social media just a couple of days ago that after 27 years, I had made up my mind, Desperate Cry was my favourite song off Arise. Listening to it again today, as I write this, Subtraction is the song that is resonating. I love the way it slows down into a half-time killer groove, highlighting a bass line, then builds up into the flat-out thrasher again, solo, then a syncopated beat with riff. In four and a half minutes it just destroys me every time, like I can’t keep up with what’s going on.
And just when you thought the album was slowing down. The closer, Infected Voice, smacks you with an open palm across the face and throws a bucket of cold water on you that sends you into a metal freak out, leaving you wanting more.
The bottom line is this. If Sepultura, in this lineup, existed today and released Arise in 2018, people would be just a floored as they were in 1991. The fact that it was released in 1991 makes it so much better.
1991 also gave us Metallica’s Black Album. hold these two up against each other as a metal fan - and no disrespect to Metallica, I do still like that album - but I LOVE Arise and will play it more often than the black album. Hands down.
It’s a powerful love affair with Sepultura, so go on, crank Arise and remember why they are one of the most important metal bands on the planet.