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Sepultura

(11 Aug 2012: The Academy — Dublin, Ireland)

Blood-rooted in metal.

Sepultura’s career has spanned an incredible 28 years and can be split between two eras. The first, when founding member Max Cavalera played an integral part in the band; his influence yielding a staggering collection of classic metal albums: Beneath the Remains, Arise, Chaos A.D., and Roots. And the second-era when Derrick Green bravely took the undesirable job of filling the massive void Max left, when he walked out on the band (consisting of his brother Igor Cavalera, drums; Paolo Jr., bass; and Andreas Kisser, guitar) in 1996.


Once Green got settled in the band, nu-metal was the order of the day and ironically Sepultura’s last album with Max, Roots, was gifted the glory of being an inspiration to this (at the time) thriving, yet musically redundant genre. Due to personal and professional upheaval, Sepultura sounded unsettled during the height of nu-metal and the genres’ all encompassing arc, influenced the band’s song-writing to a greater extent. The albums: Against, Nation and Roorback released during this period, sounded like a band going through a transitional phase in their career, and even though there was some strong tracks found on each release, these three albums failed to scale the insurmountable heights the band had previously set for themselves.


As nu-metal died a painful death during the mid-2000s, metal which required greater technical ability from its creators took a sudden upsurge in popularity. And its return had a positive impact upon the creativity of Sepultura. For their next album in 2006, the band took to constructing a concept album based on Dante Alighieri’s “The Divine Comedy”, and Dante XXI easily established itself as the best album of the Green-era, to date. It was the sound of a band reborn, and would also be the last to feature drummer Igor Cavalera—who left the band and eventually reunited with his estranged brother to form; Cavalera Conspiracy. To this day, the division between the rest of the band and Max Cavalera still remains—and despite being without two forming members—Sepultura continue to rage on. The last two albums: A-Lex and Kairos have been met with great enthusiasm from the fans and have quelled most of the requests for a reunion of the first-era line-up.


Because of this, the Sepultura of 2012 continue to be a stirring live draw, and judging by the large, continental crowd at the Academy tonight, their popularity in Ireland refuses to die. In fact, with the acquisition of former child drum-prodigy turned percussive powerhouse—Eloy Casagrande—claims can be made that Sepultura are more volatile than ever. Coming off the back of their appearance at the mighty Bloodstock Festival the night before, Sepultura make their entrance to the acoustic refrains of “Beneath the Remains” and subsequently tear the crowd apart with the song’s buzzsaw thrash metal. Once this opener ends, without a giving the crowd a second to breathe, they unleash always defiant: “Refuse/Resist”—a song that sees Casagrande continue to pummel his way through tribal grooves with unrestrained energy; seemingly revitalising the rest of the band with his youthful fervour.


Tonight’s set-list covers some serious ground and sees Sepultura respect some of their earliest recordings, with a well-received medley of “Septic Schizo” and “Escape to the Void” from 1987’s Schizophrenia appearing unexpectedly at the midway point, sounding just as fresh today as the day they were recorded. Derrick Green, to his credit, has always embraced the older songs and delivered them with the same sincerity as he does the songs he had a hand in creating. The sweat constantly dripping off his sizeable frame, tonight, he screams his way through Sep-classics—“Dead Embryonic Cells”, “Subtraction” and a pulverising version of “Inner Self”—with real authority. Surprisingly, it’s the Green-era songs and notably the tracks from latest album Kairos that receive some of the biggest reactions tonight, a truly reassuring sign for the future of Sepultura. The serrated title track is the first of the Kairos contingent to be played and it is immediately followed by “Relentless”, a song that houses a stinging solo from Kisser. However, it’s “Dialog” that proves to be the most striking of the Kairos tracks; the crowd latching onto the vocal hook of “You can black out the sun!” for dear life.


The pit is in a constant state of chaos and reaches crazy levels during “What I Do!”, and “Convicted in Life”; during which a fan makes an impressive attempt at leaping over the barrier to get onstage, only to be caught in mid air by the security. Before “Sepulnation”, Green cunningly dedicates the song to Irish gold medal winning boxer Katie Taylor, and the crowd cheer in appreciation of this sentiment. And at the end of this fist-raiser, Kisser takes to the mic to introduce Casagrande as Sepultura’s new “drum monster”—a title that surely befits him—and he responds to the cheers with a short, sharp drum solo.


Sepultura keep the hits coming all night, earlier in the set the methodical, killer grooves that tattoo “Attitude” were deployed, and after a cover of Ministry’s “Just One Fix”, the battle-cry that is “Territory”, proves to be a resounding standout that still sound shockingly heavy. Kisser is in a mischievous mood, and after the applause for “Territory” subsides, he launches into the punk fury of “Policia”—much to the surprise of Green—who jokingly questions what else they were going to play tonight. The band answers him with a snippet of Motörhead’s “Orgasmatron” and the smiles begin to spread across the stage and into the crowd. It sets up “Inner Self” and the set-finale of “Arise”, perfectly; “Arise” being three of most slaughterous minutes of thrash metal that you will ever hear, complete with one of the finest solos that Andreas Kisser has ever written.


After this the lights go out and the crowd await the band’s obvious return by chanting: “Sep-ul-tu-ra!!” and “we want more!!” over and over. Sepultura return, as they have one last metal classic in the cannon for the fans in Dublin tonight. And there is no bombshell surprise when the unmistakeable; “Roots Bloody Roots” detonates, causing absolute mayhem from the front to the back, and possibly even outside the venue—such is its power. Sepultura leave the stage to cheers and applause aplenty, as the chants of “Sep-ul-tu-ra!!” rise again. This time they ring out, left unanswered…


Tonight, Sepultura, through the quality of their songs, has proven why they have continued to exist for almost three decades. They have gone through enough drama to bury a lesser band, and their refusal to quit is based on the love for the fans and a dedication to playing the music they have created during both eras of their existence. Now that they have the young-blood of Casagrande behind the kit, it will be exciting to see what the intensity of his playing brings to next album. Judging by his jaw-weakening performance tonight, it may be enough to silence even the most stubborn Cavalera-era fans.


Setlist:
1. Beneath the Remains
2. Refuse, Resist
3. Kairos
4. Relentless
5. Dead Embryonic Cells
6. Convicted
7. Dialog
8. Attitude
9. What I Do!
10. Choke
11. Mask
12. Septic Schizo/Escape to the Void (Medley)
13. Sepulnation
14. Subtraction
15. Just One Fix (Ministry Cover)
16. Territory
17. Policia/Orgasmatron
18. Inner Self
19. Arise
Encore:
20. Roots Bloody Roots

Dean Brown has an obsessive love of music in every shape and form, with a deep respect for bands that play from the heart. He is a Contributing Editor here at Popmatters, writer for Last Rites (www.lastrit.es), About.com/heavymetal (heavymetal.about.com/), and his work can also be found at soundshock.com, scratchtheSurface-webzine.com, metalireland.com, tighttothenail.com, amongst others. He is also a columnist for the quarterly digital zine Backlit (www.backlitzine.com). Dean can be found on twitter: @reus85


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