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Let’s face it. It takes about two entire brain cells to talk shit about the post-Max SEPULTURA. The monstrous Dante XXI is a fist in the face to all the naysayers and a further affirmation that SEPULTURA in 2006 remains a dominant force. Not since the brilliant Nation, has the band sounded so fresh, powerful, and solid. Dante XXI is the band’s first return to death/thrash brutality since the days of Chaos A.D./Arise. The song structures are direct and compact in the hardcore-approach of the former with sprinkles of more technical structures of the latter. However, make no mistake as SEPULTURA blend in only the prime riffing styles of their past couple albums. Thematically, Dante XXI is based on the literary masterpiece, Dante’s Divine Comedy. “Dark Wood of Error” starts things off with volcanic rumblings before exploding into a brutal thrashfest. “Convicted in Life” quickly follows with killer hooks, speed, and aggression. The high energy, fast pace doesn’t let up until the brooding, slithering, mid-paced “Fighting On.” The titantic, doom-laden “Ostia” heads the “Purgatory” section. It contains some very nice cellos/horns that serve to accentuate the riffs as well as atmosphere. “Crown and Miter” jumps out of the gates with hardcore zest. Final track, “Still Flame,” ranks as one of the most inventive and standout tracks in the band’s body of work. It flows at a hypnotic pace led by melancholic cellos, MASSIVE ATTACK-like beats, and culminates in an epic fashion. Though the album is based on an epic story, Dante XXI is built on short songs averaging about three-minutes in length. The whole journey lasts only 39-minutes in length. They bust in, rule over you, and then bust out. When the masters of this genre do it right, it makes all the “underground” bands seem like petty amateurs. Bow down. (SPV Records)