Review by Paul Castles, Photos by Krish Mistry
Sepultura never fail to draw a good crowd and on a bitterly cold Sunday in Brum the faithful were out in force once again. Having chalked up a colourful career spanning four decades it was no surprise to see a contrasting age range at the Institute with some fresh-faced first-timers shoulder to shoulder with the beer-bellied beard brigade whose devotion to the Seps was spawned in the pre-digital age. Before the main event there were two supports to fill in the gaps and both made a very favourable impression.
Death Remains are a full on death metal pack from London whose energy and enthusiasm was infectious. Breakdowns bounced back off the walls during what was a highly impressive opening half-hour. They’ve recently released an album Stand Fight Believe, via In At The Deep End Records, and much of this provided the meat on their bone-snapping. snapping set.
Impressively bearded frontman Barry O’Connor stomped around the Library stage like a grizzly bear who’d lost his last pot of honey! With his band’s name boldly inked on his forearm, Death Remains are a bunch who wear their heart on their arms as well as their sleeves. With more explosive material than a North Korean firing range, songs like ‘Work Sleep Repeat’, ‘Blood Brothers’ and their demonstrative closing number ‘The Northern Line Massacre’ meant polite conversation was near impossible at The Library as everyone got sucked into the mayhem.
The tempo may have been less confrontational from follow-up crew Primitai but the quality of delivery remained high. Hailing from the Sandhurst area, Primitai have been a familiar name on the London gigging circuit for a few years. Their impressive album Rise Again – and the positive response to it – has helped elevate their reputation over the past six months. Seeing these boys live it’s easy to see why. There are fewer frills here than at a Glaswegian Working Men’s Club.
Primitai play a traditional old school heavy metal that will be familiar to any Maiden and Priest fans. Indeed, sharing a label with Birmingham’s metal legends even enabled them to secure the services of Richie Faulkner for a spot of guest vocals on one of their album’s tracks ‘Scream When You See Us’. They make no apologies for their links to the old days – and why should they – two of their three guitarists even indulging in some neatly synchronized axe action. With an engaging sound, and powerful vocalist in Guy, Primitai’s hirsute headbanging should go down a storm at some of the big Euro festivals where perhaps that brand of metal is possibly a tad more in vogue than it is in the UK these days.
Sepultura have a new album out in the rather wordy “The Mediator Between the Head and the Hand is the Heart”. There was nothing convoluted about their opening punches as they launched straight into the first couple of tracks from Mediator having been welcomed to the Library stage like old friends.
Set opener ‘Trauma of War’ is a full-on thrash fest while follow up ‘The Vatican’ has probably put paid to any hope the band had of receiving a Christmas card from his Holiness this year. Frontman Derrick Green may be shorn of his lengthy dreads these days but his power and conviction have not diminished one ounce. Green’s as ferocious as ever, and so he should be on the back of his seventh album since replacing Max Cavalera as Sepultura’s singer.
The new album is a feisty affair but the band were clearly enjoying giving it a live blast on what was only the second date of their UK tour. Andreas Kisser is a thrash titan and never paused for breath while frantically indulging in his frenetic fretwork while bassist Paulo played with jaw-dropping focus and intensity. The Brazilian’s newest recruit is drummer Eloy but having had 18 months on the stool he’s bedded in seamlessly and showed a mastery of his drumkit that you could only admire. There was one curveball when they played a New Model Army favourite from the early 80s, ‘The Hunt’ which probably at least half of those present wouldn’t have come across before. It stood out on the night though with Green singing cleanly rather than hollering in the more conventional metal way.
As always Sepultura wouldn’t be allowed to leave a UK stage without performing at least a few of their pre-Green era anthems. The great thing with Derrick though is that he loves this stuff as much as the band’s legions of fans launching himself into iconic Seps songs such as ‘Territory’, ‘Arise’ and ‘Refuse/Resist’ like an Olympic high jumper trying to take the bar ever higher. Having thanked the Brummie crowd for the umpteenth occasion Sepultura finally turned out the lights with ‘Ratamahatta’ and the eponymous ‘Roots Bloody Roots’ which still throbs with the same degree of conflict and defiance as when we first heard it.
The Brazilian blend is as strong as ever.
1. Trauma of War
2. The Vatican
5. Impending Doom
6. Manipulation of Tragedy
7. Convicted in Life
9. Dead Embryonic Cells
10. The Age of the Atheist
11. Biotech Is Godzilla
12. The Hunt (New Model Army cover)
13. Da Lama ao Caos (Nação Zumbi cover)
14. Inner Self
19. Roots Bloody Roots
See more of Krish’s photos here;