WORDS: Perran Helyes PHOTOS: Becky Callaghan
SEPULTURA’s 30th anniversary tour arrives in British, kicking off in Manchester in the dingy bowels of the Club Academy. This could inspire some mixed emotions; on the one hand it’s almost a sad thought that this band who were once on top of the world and dominating the scene so triumphantly are nowadays reduced to playing small venues of this capacity, but on the other heart-warming that having gone through such radical change and faced so much adversity from parts of their own fan-base for over half of their career now here they are on this tour celebrating thirty years in the game in front of crowds who show that they care night after night.
On a far smaller scale and condensed into a much smaller time frame a similar thing could be said about EVILE in support tonight. After being put out of action for over a year following the departure of founding guitarist Ol Drake with their most recent record Skull largely flying under the radar as a result, seeing these British figureheads of the thrash revival movement back in the fray in commanding form is positive indeed. A support set like this might not be as triumphant as their first returning headline show back in March simply due to the nature of the slot, but it feels good nonetheless. The Skull material finally getting its spot shows that despite the muffled impact it caused on release they haven’t truly made a duff record yet, and reliable older cuts like Cult haven’t lost their punch. The inevitable closing Thrasher as the closest thing EVILE have to a song everyone knows stirs things up suitably. Drummer Ben Carter manages to mess up the intro coming in too early, but the way they not only right themselves with ease but comically react to the mistake makes it hard to hold it against them.
The room might not be full tonight, but those in attendance go suitably nuts once SEPULTURA emerge and burst into an imperious Troops of Doom. A 30th anniversary tour like this is all about celebrating what the band has achieved over their existence, and it’s undeniable that their most obvious shining moments are the old 80s and 90s classics which this show largely focuses on. The result is a setlist of frankly godly and beautiful proportions. Inner Self, a gob-smacking Arise and even Bestial Devastation from their very first EP incite chaos throughout, while the likes of Breed Apart, Territory and Refuse/Resist have a dedicated audience shouting back every word proving just how anthemic harsh vocal lines totally lacking in melody can be when crafted to such a standard. It’s not all past glories though; the few moments Green-era tracks are dropped don’t provide even a semblance of a dip.
Convicted In Life is a ravenous monster of a thrash tune, Choke is a piece of rousing tribal groove that even Cavalera-adulating purists shouldn’t be able to deny have they any affection for Roots, and The Vatican off magnificent and criminally overlooked last record The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be the Heart fits right in with these timeless songs. Green might not be the most multi-dimensional vocalist on stage but he’s a powerhouse of a frontman even when taking time to provide extra percussion, and guitarist Andreas Kisser is just as instrumental if not more so in riling up the crowd. Bassist Paulo Jr., the one remaining member to have played on every SEPULTURA album, is largely anonymous in the background but reliable as ever, and Eloy Casagrande on drums has provided an injection of youth helping keep this band vital. And for a closing one-two punch, Ratamahatta into Roots Bloody Roots is nigh unbeatable for provoking this kind of bounce and fevered response from a crowd. SEPULTURA in 2015 might be a different beast to twenty years ago but those who would turn their nose up at a show like this really are missing out. This band are still more than capable of bringing the brilliance associated with their name.
Check out our exclusive photo gallery of the night’s action in Manchester: