I don't think anyone can honestly contend that Sepultura without Max Cavalera is better than Sepultura with Max Cavalera. (Especially me, an unashamed Max-ophile.The Soulfly "Wings" logo was my first ever tattoo.) But I don't think Derrick Green-led Sepultura gets enough credit. He has been in the band longer than Max was after all. Needless to say, after 3 lackluster albums (Roorback, Dante XXI and (groan) A-Lex), the band's latest, Kairos (Nuclear Blast) raises the band back up to a certain level of respectability. Unfortunately the band's reputation has been tarnished enough at this point that they are no longer given a fair shot. Their second album to feature no Cavaleras sees them ditching the constraints of a concept album for something a little more straightforward. They've put together an album of solid, fairly catchy (groove) metal. Groove seems to be a dirty word anymore but, seriously, fuck, when did an album's ability to induce head-nodding and toe-tapping become a reason for derision? (Bear in mind, I have no tolerance for pointless guitar wankery, Sumerian sucks, and Meshuggah can kiss my ass.) After the cringe-worthy A-Lex, I'm really glad to see that Kisser and Paulo Jr. were able to use their undeniable musicianship and right the ship, as it were. The album is not without its faults, however. The Ministry cover, ("Just One Fix") while well done, was misplaced being in the middle of the album. It would have worked much better placed at the end. Similarly industrial influenced track, "Structure Violence (Azzes)" seems unnecessary to me. Without those two tracks the album could have been more concise and impactful. From what I hear, Sepultura covered Prodigy's "Firestarter" as a bonus track on the deluxe version. It wasn't included on the version I heard and I have been to absent-minded to find it anywhere. It could be interesting though.
I based this Comeback Album Award not on a return from tragedy, or near tragedy (the next Early Graves and Behemoth albums, respectively), or on a return from a long hiatus (Crowbar) but on producing an album that exceeded my expectations after the previous album's disappointment. That's why I consider Kairos 2011's Comeback Album of the Year.
Fun Fact: I believe a (surprisingly glowing) review of the first two tracks released from A-Lex was the first ever Kingdom of Noise post.