Home > Music > Sepultura – Schizophrenia (1987)

Sepultura – Schizophrenia (1987)

While hardly the commercial peak of their career, Schizophrenia by Sepultura is almost assuredly the key to appreciating anything they’ve done. Personally, I couldn’t get much out of any of their albums until I listened to this one… if that doesn’t count as an expansion of one’s musical interests, then nothing does. Meanwhile, Schizophrenia also serves as an expansion of Sepultura’s musical horizons; while it has clear roots in the proto-death/black metal of the band’s debut, it’s dramatically more ambitious and somewhat more polished (although still somewhat rough around the edges). There are just enough changes here that it does not obsolete Morbid Visions/Bestial Devastation, but it instead serves as an interesting counterpart.

Historians who also enjoy Sepultura will note that this is Andreas Kisser’s first contribution to the band. I remember reading somewhere that his tastes in music played a rather significant role in the band’s musical development during the late ’80s and early ’90s. Schizophrenia sounds closer to famous speed-thrash works like those of Slayer, Kreator, Destruction, etc. Riffs here remain quite simplistic, but the arrangements here are often quite complex, traveling through a variety of musical ideas and often having a tangible sense of narrative even during instrumentals and solos. Perhaps the best example of this is the 7 minute “Inquisition Symphony”, which is an impressive extended work that apparently set a precedent for this band occasionally stretching out their songs.

However, Sepultura generally sticks to 4-5 minutes per song on this release, more likely from a sense that they didn’t need to extend as far all the time. This is fine, because even these shorter songs are effective. Sepultura’s strength on this album is simply that they’ve managed to create this sense of variety entirely through their compositions, while generally not relying on aesthetic changes to differentiate songs (although the aforementioned “Inquisition Symphony” is the largest exception). One possible flaw is that it might take listeners repeated listens in order fully distinguish songs; this is exacerbated by a definite flaw in that Schizophrenia does not make very effective use of dynamics. Instead, the band favors a high but constant level of intensity and aggression, and relies on their riff changes to keep listeners interested. Other common techniques like melodic guitar solos (contrast to the more chaotic and noisy ones of a band like Slayer) show up, but on Schizophrenia, the riffs and the compositions they form stick out far more in my mind.

Looking back, I find that Sepultura was nastier and actually more atmospheric on their debut, and more intricate on this album’s follow up (Beneath the Remains). Schizophrenia, however, forms a happy medium between those two. It also has an interesting trump card in the best and most abrasive production of the band’s discography (to my understanding); imitations might’ve come in handy in the rest of the band’s discography. If I hadn’t listened to this album, I probably wouldn’t have given Sepultura a chance at all…

Highlights: “From the Past Comes the Storms” (sic), “Escape to the Void”, “Inquisition Symphony”

 

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  1. 2016/05/18 at 19:41

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