The first album of the year is always an important one, especially when it’s a band that I’ve grown up to listening to, discovering them in my teens. Their previous two albums – 2011’s Kairos and 2013’s The Mediator Between The Head and Hands Must Be The Heart – were both two very good albums in their own right, and really, as a fan, I didn’t have anything to complain about. Now comes 2017 and Sepultura are releasing their fourteenth studio album. The opening track “Machine Messiah” is a slow, brooding number and, to be honest, I didn’t expect it. I thought they would come out guns blazing, guitars shredding and vocals shrieking – but no, this is not what I expected at all, but still it’s an awesome opener that leads straight into the two previously released tracks: “I Am The Enemy” and “Phantom Self”. Most interestingly, Machine Messiah, has a theme: (via their Wikipedia page): “The main inspiration around Machine Messiah is the robotization of our society nowadays. The concept of a God Machine who created humanity and now it seems that this cycle is closing itself, returning to the starting point. We came from machines and we are going back to where we came from. The messiah, when he returns, will be a robot, or a humanoid, our biomechanical savior.” This album is really good and each track is really awesome, but the one I have to highlight is “Iceberg Dances” which is an instrumental but the music is extremely awesome. Another highlight is “Sworn Oath”, the longest song on the album (6:09), but it’s a slow-builder and the riff is so rewarding. “Silent Violence” is another cracker: pure thrash! Even the final track “Cyber God” starts off with this awesome drum-and-guitar riff which totally hooks you in, with Derrick’s low-spoken vocal over the top. After giving Machine Messiah a few listens through I can tell that it is really good album, possibly on par with both Kairos and The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be The Heart. Something I have noted is there are more tribal influences creeping back into the album (notable in the intro of “Phantom Self” and ) and even some prog influences (listen for the keyboards during “Iceberg Dances”) which I felt that the band had dropped in the last album. The album has real balance between giving you enough of what you know but, at the same, trying to further their sound. I’m extremely thrilled/pleased/excited by this record. Overall, this is such a great album that I really cannot find fault. Even Derrick’s vocals have really come into their own. His use of different timbres and pitches (his normal shouting/singing voice and his quiet, spoken-vocal voice) really help to create atmosphere.