Cavalera @ KKs Steel Mill, Wolverhampton – Thursday 9 November 2023


The lights dim, ‘The Curse’ plays over the PA, and the crowd roars as the band walk onstage. The evening’s onslaught begins with the Bestial Devastation EP, the title track primal in its ruthless savagery. “The real fucking Sepultura!”, bellows Max Cavalera, his brother Iggor behind him on drums, his son Igor Amadeus on his left on bass, the name ‘Cavalera’ in letters 6-feet high burning into the wall behind them. And judging not only by the roar but also from the number of pre-Roots Sepultura t-shirts on display, it appears the crowd are in agreement (though I suspect a number of them were in here in November for the ‘other’ Sepultura). The blasphemous ‘Antichrist’ follows, but it’s the black metal barrage of ‘Necromancer’ that hammers home just how heavy Sepultura were in the early days. Carl Orff’s ‘O Fortuna’ introduces the Morbid Visions part of the set. An album of ruthless bruisers – ‘Mayhem’, ‘Crucifixion’, and ‘Funeral Rites’ in particular – somehow, the evening gets heavier. ‘Refuse/Resist’ makes more than a welcome appearance in the set, but it’s the classis ‘Troops of Doom’ that gets the biggest roar of the evening.

Following a few years of playing the early – or ‘classic’ – Sepultura albums on tour, re-recording Morbid Visions and Bestial Devastation may very well be another attempt to gain control over the legacy of Sepultura and re-assert the brother’s role in the band’s history, but it is a well-chosen move. Those early releases, with all their flaws, are awesome pieces of work. Despite the poor production, some sloppy playing, out of tune guitars, and lyrics hampered by the band’s limited English, they are nothing less than vicious. Machine-gun drumming, razored riffs, malevolent solos that erupt and morph into tortured screams, and sadistically barked vocals, they are a death metal delight, and the re-recordings maintain the vitriol that bled into the band’s every effort.

Spiked gauntlets, a well-worn leather jacket, a mass of matted hair, a beard that could be barbed wire, and brandishing a Flying V like it is a weapon of mass destruction, Max Cavalera is the embodiment of brutal death metal, old school style. Behind him, Iggor is a machine, his beats thunderous, precise, and pummelling, his technique as tight as it’s always been. Igor Amadeus’ bass growls and snarls and underpins the brutality. And sleeveless guitarist Travis Stone squeezes inhuman wails and squeals and squiggles out of his spiky guitar. For the entire set, we were transported to some sweaty underground metal club in Belo Horizonte in the early 80s. Awesome!

Witnessed by Jason Guest