Review by Will Harris and photos by Russ Tierney
It’s not every day you see a metal show promoted as a family-orientated event, but that’s exactly the deal here tonight as part of the Maximum Cavalera Tour, which sees Soulfly frontman Max Cavalera’s current band supported by Incite and Lody Kong containing a few of his sons. That’s not all we’re offered this evening however, as grindcore legends Napalm Death also take a night out of their mini headline tour to join the bill.
Lody Kong, the output of two of Cavalera’s youngest, tear into the eardrums first with a raw blend of scratchy aggressive vocals, jarring chords and relentless hardcore riffs that slide into doomy, atmospheric breakdowns. Though some songs feel a little unpolished — their sixth number in particular appears a little glued together — they play with a conviction that’s enviable of any teenage band. All three front members are keen to throw themselves around on the harder parts, while a cacophonous finale sees frontman Igor Cavalera throwing fits, flailing his screaming guitar everywhere before a drummer who really hammers the skins.
The young bunch receive encouraging applause, but up next Incite storm the stage to instant headbangs all round, with a punishing brand of modern thrash. Throaty growler Richie Cavalera holds an Anselmo-like stage presence, being as likeable as he is intimidating, stamping energetically around the stage and calling for audience participation. This makes for a thrilling set of songs pulling together thrash, groove and crushing half-time riffs; Cavalera screams as his closing line: ‘Always salute heavy fucking metal’ — not difficult for any member of the audience to do after such a blazing performance.
Those looking for a breather in the next act will find little respite: legendary British grindcore mainstays Napalm Death are pulling no punches tonight. The tension rises, unaided, by itself as the band are anticipated. Beers fly, cheers and screams are thrown from wall to wall and a few moshers are already swaying in wait. The eerie opener of ‘Circumspect’ leads to a frantic auditory onslaught, and all hell breaks loose. Barney Greenway’s inimitable stage behaviour ping-pongs between the frenetic headbanging of Shane Embury and Mitch Herrera, leaving no eardrum unhurt for umpteen merciless tracks, including a cover of the Dead Kennedys’ ‘Nazi Punks Fuck Off’ (now a staple of their live set). Does the brutality ever wear thin? At times, but as a whole the show is a spectacle from start to finish.
The headliners aren’t about to let the terror end there either, as Soulfly open with the unrelenting, Slayer-esque ‘Blood Fire War Hate’. In minutes the shaman-like Max Cavalera holds an immediate sway over his enthusiastic audience, leading them in the chant of ‘blood fire war hate’ from the start of the song’s manic closing crescendo. By now the pit is in full aggressive swing, and the opening bars of ‘Refuse/Resist’, with its classic Soulfly tribal rhythms, do nothing but aggravate it. ‘Open the circle pit!’ commands Cavalera before the song’s merciless thrash close.
In spite of this, the band’s performance in the first few songs is relatively static compared to their support acts, but by ‘Back to the Primitive’ the whole stage is bouncing, and from here this energy continues throughout. The frenetic thrash of ‘Troops of Doom’ provides a particularly moshable highlight, while ‘Plata O Plomos’ (from 2012’s Enslaved) does a formidably heavy job of proving Soulfly’s new material can slam as hard as the old, if not harder. Cavalera’s three sons join the stage for ‘Revengeance’, which proves a thrilling experiment in a tri-vocal setup, while during ‘Roots Bloody Roots’ you can positively feel the entire room enjoying the great Sepultura anthem.
Bad points? Well, the finale kind of sucks: a run through the intro/outro of Iron Maiden’s ‘The Trooper’ (in which Cavalera does not stay to participate) not only diverges entirely from the feel of the entire night but spurns the fact that Soulfly hold plenty of exhilarating ways to end a solid set. A few bars of Sabbath’s ‘Iron Man’ and Pantera’s ‘Walk’ in between songs here and there similarly detract from the band’s capability to thrash ‘em out all by themselves. Ultimately, though, it probably makes no difference: no one will remember such moments; everyone will remember bouncing to ‘Back to the Primitive’.
Set list: Blood Fire War Hate, Refuse/Resist, The Prophecy, Back to the Primitive, Defeat U, Intervention, Iron Man, Arise, Troops of Doom, Walk, Plata O Plomos, Revengeance, Roots Bloody Roots, Eye for an Eye, The Trooper.
And you can see more shots from the show here: