June 10, 2015 Sepultura celebrates 3 decades NYC 5-30-15 w/ Destruction, Arsis, & Starkill
For over thirty years, Sepultura has brought Brazilian Thrash Metal across the globe, blending a mix of brutality with the traditional musical sensibilities of Brazilian Culture. Despite changes in band lineup, numerous labels and managers, Sepultura has pushed through every obstacle that would prevent them giving fans their extensive thirteen album catalog including Metal classics like 1991’s Arise, 1993’s Chaos A.D., and 1996’s Roots. Originally founded in 1984 by brothers Max and Igor Cavalera, their view of Heavy Metal began to change after hearing English Metal legends, Venom. The addition of guitarist Andreas Kisser pushed the band from a purely Death Metal driven group to the mixed bag of heavy Thrash influence they became known for. Despite vocalist/guitarist Max and drummer Igor leaving the band nearly a decade apart from each other, Sepultura has survived, bringing Cleveland, Ohio’s Derrick Green into the fold, after a two week long audition to solidify their lineup. Nineteen years later, Green remains their frontman as they continue to create new music. Now, in 2015, they celebrate their thirtieth anniversary with a special five week North American Tour. Presented by Metal Injection, the tour sees support from Destruction, Arsis, Boris The Blade, as well as Micawber as it began in Arizona, traveling throughout the U.S. and Canada, and will culminate back in the West June 14th, in Colorado. Having already completed a slew of West Coast shows, Saturday May 30th saw the tour come to Webster Hall in New York City with fans of all ages packing out the Marlin Room for an evening with one of Metal’s most important bands.
Beginning the evening was Chicago, Illinois’ Starkill. Joining the tour two days prior up in Toronto, The Last Ten Seconds of Life was also scheduled to perform, but due to a family emergency had to cancel this New York City date. As for Starkill, the band formed in 2012 and they are one of the newest additions to the Century Media family, bringing a unique blend of Melodic Death Metal guitar work, with a vocal and atmospheric mixture of a more current Symphonic Black Metal. Having completed a successful run of shows in support of Arch Enemy and Kreator, Starkill were amped up to be joining up with Sepultura for this run of shows. Taking the stage, their heaviness provided by drummer Spencer Weidner, guitarist Tony Keathley, and bassist Shaun Andruchuk was balanced by the keyboard and programming work of frontman Parker Jameson. Providing an almost Gothic sadness to their music, Jameson puts his Indiana University School of Music education to use as Starkill lit up the stage with songs like “Be Dead or Die,” “Fires of Life,” and “Breaking the Madness.” Their unique styling has proved Century Media has once again succeeded in signing an up-and-coming band, and Sepultura chose wisely for bringing them on tour.
The celebration would soon continue as Virginians Arsis were up next. Formed in 2000 by James Malone (guitar/vocals) while studying at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Arsis is rounded out by bassist Noah Martin, drummer Shawn Priest, and guitarist Brandon Ellis. Malone’s educational background allowed him to record and compose all guitar, bass, and vocals on the band’s 2003 Willowtip Records debut A Celebration of Guilt, and the record has been dubbed one of the best of the decade. Having released four full-length records since, the latest being 2013’s Unwelcome; their first to include Priest and Ellis, Arsis are as strong as ever. Bringing on some intense technical Death Metal, the band performed a set of songs that included “Handbook for the Recently Deceased,” “We Are the Nightmare,” and “Seven Whispers Fell Silent.” With the poise of a veteran group of musicians, their experience was matched by an energy level that was through the roof as spectators were completely enthralled. Being sure to include fan favorite “The Face of My Innocence,” Arsis’ performance was nothing short of bone-crushing. There is a reason why they are considered one of technical Death Metal’s best bands, and Webster Hall saw why first hand.
In true Thrash fashion, celebrating thirty years means bringing along some old friends to partake in the festivities. That is why Sepultura enlisted German Thrash veterans Destruction into their tour ranks. One of the “Big Teutonic Four” of the German Thrash Metal scene, Destruction, along with bands like Kreator, Sodom, and Tankard, have established Germany as a birthing area for Metal. Having conjured thirteen full-length albums, the extreme three-piece band consisting of Marcel “Schmier” Schirmer (bass/vocals) Mike Sifringer (guitar), and Wawrzyniec Dramowicz (drums) were undoubtedly an exceptional choice as tour mates and with keeping the ’80s Thrash motif.
Opening up with “Curse the Gods” off 1986’s Eternal Devastation, the crowd went absolutely berserk. Schmier screamed at the top of his lungs and a circle pit immediately opened up. Without warning, they began 2001’s “Thrash Till Death” as Sifringer whipped his long curly hair furiously while he shredded with ease. The front of the crowd pushed toward the stage, fists raised, shouting back every word, head-banging so fast one could hear the chiropractor bills piling up. As they raged, beers were spilling all over each other and the floor. Schmier kept asking the crowd, “You want to hear some old shit?!” to the response of roars as tracks “Nailed to the Cross” and “Mad Butcher” quickly followed. An action packed performance overall, one of the biggest highlights of the set was “The Butcher Strikes Back.” Out-doing themselves, Destruction had everyone at the height of exhaustion when they closed with “Bestial Invasion” from 1985’s debut, Infernal Overkill. Even after the show had ended, both Schmier and Sifringer were hanging outside their tour bus, and the few lucky fans who passed had an opportunity to pose for pictures and have a quick talk with these German Metal icons. Destruction once again has proven that Thrash Metal reigns supreme and left the stage to the roar of an excited crowd.
As the lights began to dim once more, the sounds of Brazilian Tribal music signaled that the time had finally come, Sepultura would take the stage. As each member walked on to take his place, the crowd grew louder. As long-time guitarist Andreas Kisser, bassist Paulo Xisto Pinto Jr, drummer Eloy Casagrande, and Green came from behind the curtain, there was a frenzy of fans rabid for the show to begin. Looming over the sea of people, Green bellowed “THE VATICAN!,” and like the hands of a clock swirling around its face, a circle pit moved as arms flailed. Unexpectedly, they went directly into “Kairos” from their 2011 album of the same name. The brutality of Green’s voice and inflection of the title harkened back to the guttural screams of Cavalera, and moved into a tribal beat as he pounded on a large floor tom as if it was an opponent from an Mixed Martial Arts match. After a quick “Hello New York,” they began with classic track “Propaganda,” igniting more Hardcore style mosh pits that New York fans willing embraced.
Without skipping a beat, they immediately went back to the tribal feel of “Breed Apart” off of Roots and chants of “Open up your mind and go your own way!” were screamed as they pushed further into the tribal beats of the song. Highlighting Roots throughout the set, cuts like “Attitude” had everyone’s blood flowing. Providing a balanced look at their extensive career, “Territory” and “Arise” were sprinkled in as the band focused on the albums that thrust them into the spotlight, gained them the most recognition, and solidified them as the premier Metal act from South America. Covering so much history already, their set wound down with “Refuse/Resist” as they surprised all with a medley attached midway through the song and began playing Motorhead’s ”Orgasmatron.”
The encore would bring the most joy for the old school fans with a special performance of “Bestial Devastation.” The title track from their official EP debut, the song has hardly ever been played live and it was a treat among treats Sepultura fans will cherish for the rest of their days. Going into drum driven “Ratamahatta,” the entire song was sung in Brazilian Portuguese. Regardless if fans could speak the language or not, the crowd joined in for the songs kick off of “Um, dois, três, quatro!” The groove of the song painted a very different vibe as people began dancing in addition to their moshing. Ending with signature “Roots Bloody Roots,” the room was swelling with enthusiasm before thunderous applause, high-fives, and handshakes. It was another successful show in New York City and Sepultura brought not only the tradition of Thrash, but the Brazilian Tradition. It is advised to grab a ticket for this special thirteenth anniversary celebration before it is too late.
Photo credit Ken Buglione Photography