Sepultura is one of a very select few metal bands that seemingly have no interest in reforming their classic lineup. The true heart of that venerated band is still beating, however, and stronger than ever, as evidenced by the Cavalera Conspiracy show last night in Columbus. Brothers Max Cavalera (guitar and vocals) and drum god Igor Cavalera, performing again after ending a decade-long feud a few years ago, are making up for lost time by recording, so far, three albums of extreme metallic brutality, and unleashing that new music live, along with some choice blasts from the past.
Opening with “Babylonian Pandemonium,” off their latest album, ‘Pandemonium,’ Cavalera Conspiracy grabbed the audience viciously by the throat and didn’t let go for 80 minutes. While the Newport Music Hall wasn’t sold out (a black stain on Columbus’ metal community, by the way), the mosh pit was still one of the most violent I’ve witnessed in recent memory. It hearkened back to the days when Slayer played this venue. And although the band’s stage show was minimalist – merely an American flag and a Brazilian flag adorning some Marshall stacks and the band’s logo on a backdrop – their musicianship and sheer heaviness rabidly energized the fans in attendance.
After blasting through two more Cavalera Conspiracy songs, the band dusted off some Sepultura classics, “Refuse/Resist” and “Territory,” both from 1993’s ‘Chaos A.D.’ Hearing Igor ripping into the instantly recognizable drum beat for “Refuse/Resist,” then joined by Max’s iconic, heavier-than-doom guitar riff was definitely one of top musical highlights witnessed at the Newport in the past decade. The crowd went absolutely nuts over these two vintage tracks.
Cavalera Conspiracy went to the Sepultura well a few more times, dredging up “Beneath the Remains” and going waaaaaaaaaaay back to the mid-1980s with “Troops of Doom.” The band also ended their set with a monstrous, larger than life version of 1996’s “Roots Bloody Roots” that completely blew away the studio version. There were two big surprises in the set too: an epic rendition of “Wasting Away” by Max’s early 90’s industrial-metal side project Nailbomb, and a colossal cover of the immortal Motörhead classic “Orgasmatron,” a song previously – and very effectively – covered by Sepultura back in the day.
Cavalera Conspiracy’s material fit in seamlessly with the Sepultura classics. Tracks like “The Doom of All Fires,” “Warlord” and “Inflikted” are just as aggressive, just as powerful, and just as heavy as anything else in Max’s catalog. And watching Max and Igor jamming on stage again is quite an experience, one that was sorely missed for ten years. Besides the Cavalera brothers, the band is rounded out by bassist Nate Newton, who did a phenomenal job laying down a rock-solid rhythm with Igor (no easy task!), and lead guitarist Marc Rizzo is a beast and a virtuoso at the same time. He has really come into his own since his time in Ill Niño. He is the perfect complement to Max Cavalera too, having played alongside him in Soulfly for over ten years now.
Cavalera Conspiracy’s setlist:
1. Babylonian Pandemonium
7. The Doom of All Fires
8. Wasting Away (Nailbomb cover)
9. Not Losing the Edge
12. Beneath the Remains / Desperate Cry / Troops of Doom
13. Killing Inside
17. Roots Bloody Roots
The Cavaleras’ current tour features three other stellar metal bands, which is even more reason to check them out. Lody Kong features two of Max Cavalera’s sons, which gives the tour a family feel of all things. COC-Blind is yet another version (the third now, I think?) of Corrosion of Conformity. This configuration of the band features founding drummer Reed Mullins and vocalist Karl Agell, who performed on one COC album, 1991’s ‘Blind.’ Indeed, the band only played songs from that album last night.
Death Angel performed for an entire hour, which is quite rare for an opening band, and very generous of the Cavaleras. Like the Cavalera brothers, these guys are legends too, and one of the pioneers of the Bay Area thrash sound, along with Metallica, Exodus and Vio-lence. In fact, as vocalist Mark Osegueda pointed out, yesterday was the 28th anniversary of the band’s debut album, ‘The Ultra-Violence,’ and they celebrated by playing two songs from it, “Evil Priest” and “Mistress of Pain.”