Soulfly + Savage Messiah @ Academy 2, Birmingham – Tuesday 25th February 2014


Review by Paul Castles, Photos by Lisa Billingham

Soulfly never fail to draw a good crowd and the Academy 2 was close to capacity to welcome the brilliant Brazilians back to the Midlands. Max Cavalera is quite rightly acclaimed as one of metal’s most celebrated frontmen having, of course, first forged his reputation with Sepultura more than 25 years ago.

Savage Messiah
Savage Messiah

Joining Soulfly on the road on their latest UK tour were London thrash machine Savage Messiah, although it turned out this was in some ways a hometown show for frontman Dave Silver who was born in the city. They have just released The Fateful Dark, via Earache Records, and much of their blistering set was naturally taken from the new album.

Opening with new song ‘Hellblazer’, Savage Messiah delivered a high octane set of real old school thrash complete with denims and leathers. ‘Hammered Down’ has a real feel of Exodus about it and among the other new numbers ‘Cross of Babylon’ and ‘Minority of One’ stood out with Silver wielding his axe machine gun style to metaphorically mow down the punters in the pit.

Closing number ‘Insurrection Rising’, from the band’s previous album of the same name, even received a brief Papal blessing. If you ever wanted to know what Papa Emeritus gets up to on a night off from Ghost, now you know, he hitches a ride with Savage Messiah. The Londoners make a quick return to the Midlands this weekend when they’re on the Black Country Metal Fest Bill – headlined by Crowbar – at the Slade Rooms in Wolverhampton.


With the crowd nicely warmed up Soulfly received a rapturous reception when taking to the stage. Savages is their ninth album, and with the band’s trademark energy and anger surging through its core, shows that slowing things down is not on the agenda for Max. The album’s first couple of tracks ‘Bloodshed’ and the incendiary flesh feast ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ got things off to a lively start after which the distinctive and welcome intro of ‘Prophecy’ really sent the pit into overdrive for the first time.

The new material from Savages was well received with ‘Plata o Plomo’ going down particularly well with Max and bassist Tony Campos joining forces to sing in Portuguese.  With such an exhaustive back catalogue through both Soulfly and Sepultura to his armoury Max was as keen as ever to give the fans plenty of what they wanted to hear.

‘Back to the Primitive’, an early Soulfly anthem, maintained the momentum with Max and the team clearly enjoying every second of it but the popular frontman remains as happy as ever when it comes to performing those original Sepultura war cries. ‘Refuse/Resist’ and ‘Territory’ predictably sent the pit diehards spinning into a frenzied circle pit against a packed Academy backdrop of pumping fist salutes.

Baseball cap wearing Mark Rizzo is an absolutely blinding guitarist and has even been coerced by Max to take centre stage briefly each night during the current UK tour to show off his fret wizardry. Rizzo hugs his instrument that tight that he almost becomes part of it and it’s no surprise that Max has kept him by his side for over a decade. As for bass beast Tony Campos, this fella would surely make the shortlist of any ‘best metal beards competition’. He’s much more than just an explosion of facial fuzz though and Campos has really brought something to the act since joining up with Max a few years ago. Campos will be back in the Midlands before long when performing with his other main enterprise Prong at the Slade Rooms.


The final piece in the current Soulfly jigsaw is Max’s own son, Zyon. The 21-year-old has taken over the drums and with a band whose tribal-style pounding beat is such an integral part of their sound, sitting behind the kit with Soulfly is as demanding as it gets. Zyon though has taken to it admirably ensuring that the next few years of Soulfly will be very much a family affair.

With the heat rising Max had a quick change of shirt, and it was no coincidence to see him come back out in a Napalm Death top, Max having been friends with the Brummie grind greats for over two decades. A riotous ‘Roots’ signalled time was up but with the floor by now a baying throbbing mob, there was just time for ‘Eye For An Eye’ before the satisfied Soulfly tribe poured out into the cold night air safe in the knowledge that the band remain vibrant and as vital.

As ever giving it the Max.

1. Bloodshed
2. Cannibal Holocaust
3. Prophecy
4. Back to the Primitive
5. Fire / Bring It / Defeat U
6. Refuse/Resist (Sepultura cover)
7. Execution Style
8. Troops of Doom
9. Downstroy
10. Seek ‘N’ Strike
11. Territory
12. Wasting Away
13. Blood Fire War Hate
14. No / Living Sacrifice
15. Arise / Dead Embryonic Cells
16. Babylon
17. Master of Savagery
18. Plata o Plomo
19. Roots Bloody Roots

20. Jumpdafuckup / Eye for an Eye

Listen to Paul’s interview with Max Cavalera here

Read our review of new album Savages here

See more of Lisa’s photos here;