The acid test for any heavy-metal album is its ability to incapacitate the listener. If it's any good, you should be unable to do anything except wail on the air guitar, pound imaginary drums or just thrash wildly and grunt when you could be trolling for Internet porn. Sepultura's Chaos A.D. was that sort of album, but it was also six years and a vocalist/founding member ago. Six years is a career-and-a-half in the music biz, so Sepultura's latest, Nation (Roadrunner Records), must bring the rock in a big way, or it could be lights out for Brazil's mightiest band. Fortunately for metalheads everywhere, Nation is a devastating album. If you stand open-mouthed in front of your speakers while the first track, "Sepulnation," comes blasting out, you'll actually feel your asshole rumbling! (Try it. You'll feel like a heavy-metal Dan Savage.) Sepultura has constructed a sprawling metropolis of metal chukka-chukka and hardcore political agitation, then filigreed it with grit, grime and distortion. Andreas Kisser's guitar is the ominous chop of helicopter gunships circling overhead and the pure, clean burn of an arcing petrol bomb splattering across the barricades. Paulo Jr.'s bass floods the streets with the relentless crunch of tank treads on sidewalks and the hollow, grinding hunger of the favela. Igor Cavalera (one of metal's few inventive drummers) marches in lockstep behind them, periodically exploding into all-out riots of percussive violence ("Revolt" is the most furious 55 seconds of hardcore guts since --- well, it may be the best hardcore song ever.) Vocalist Derrick Green is definitely the underdog in all this, but he stands his ground and plays the role of the activist, the insurrectionist and the instigator by displaying the vocal range of Mike Patton and the scalding righteousness of H.R. of the Bad Brains.
Make no mistake: Green is no imitator of or replacement for anyone. This guy is the raw sound of Sepultura made flesh. If you missed the WTO riots in Seattle, by all means get to Pop's on Friday. The boys from Brazil are back.