October 21, 2015 Soulfly, Soilwork, & Shattered Sun Tear Up The Fonda Theatre Los Angeles, CA 9-30-15
American Metal band Soulfly has come a long way since their formation in 1997, going from a deeply spiritual start with their eponymous debut album in 1998 to a thrashing Death Metal sound with their tenth studio album, Archangel, released August 14, 2015 via Nuclear Blast. Formed by Sepultura co-founder Max Cavalera after he made the difficult decision to depart from the band he loved in 1996, Soulfly has gone on to become one of the most respected on the Metal scene. Self-described as “Mystic shaman, protest singer, revolutionary hero, everyday metalhead, furious consumer of heavy music of all shades, husband, father, leader, songwriter,” Cavalera currently surrounds himself with lead guitarist Marc Rizzo, his son Zyon at the drums, and brand new bassist Mike Leon, formerly of Denver, Colorado’s Havok. Now in support of the new record this Fall, Soulfly joined up with Soilwork, Decapitated, and Shattered Sun on the We Sold Our Souls to Metal US tour, a twenty-eight show run that kicked off on Wednesday September 30th at The Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles, California. Sadly due to immigration delays, Decapitated missed opening night of the tour, and since was forced to completely drop off the tour since they were unable to make any of the shows. Nonetheless, the three band bill was ready to dominate Southern California and give them a exclusive first taste of an ass-kicking tour.
The show began with the Texan band Shattered Sun, a high energy Melodic Death Metal band fresh off of the success of their first studio album, Hope With Hatred, released just this year through Victory Records. Consisting of Joseph Guajardo (bass), Henry Garza (keys/vocals), Jessie Santos (guitar/vocals), Robert Garza (drums), Daniel Trejo (guitar), and Marcos Leal (lead vocals), Shattered Sun has come a long way in just a year’s time. Supporting acts like Testament, then rocking Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival in 2015, the band is quickly becoming a well-recognized name on the scene.
Getting the crowd engaged from the moment they stepped onto the stage, heads were banging and bodies were flailing as they played tracks like “Reign” and “Awaken.” By the time they went into “No Sympathy,” a bone-cracking mosh pit formed on the floor that did not let up. Led by the passionate vocals of Leal, Shattered Sun offered a commanding stage presence that poured energy out onto the fans on the floor, who in turn cranked their own power back up onto the stage. As their set came to an end, the sweaty crowd took note of this relatively new-to-the-scene band as one to watch in the future.
Next on the floor was Swedish masters Soilwork. Together for two decades now, Soilwork has built one of the biggest names out of the European scene alongside bands such as In Flames and Dark Tranquillity. Unique to their peers, Soilwork’s sound has morphed many times since their 1998 debut album, Steelbath Suicide, and many fans would turn to 2005’s Stabbing the Drama as the pinnacle of that transformation. Following with their US charted album in 2007, Sworn to the Great Divide, Soilwork has not looked back, charting records on the continent ever since, including 2015’s The Ride Majestic. Their latest effort, released August 28th via Nuclear Blast, yet again fortifies the band’s worth to the modern Melodic Death Metal scene. Led by founding vocalist Björn “Speed” Strid, he is joined by Keyboardist Sven Karlsson, Drummer Dirk Verbeuren, Lead Guitarists Sylvain Coudret along with David Andersson, and Bassist Markus Wibom, who replaced longtime bass player Ola Fink in June of this year.
Having been a couple of years since they visited The States, the crowd was amped up for the return of Soilwork as the lights went down. Just like that, Strid’s banner vocals come on tight, sounding as if they were coming straight from the studio recordings. As a result, the pit that began with Shattered Sun picked right up where they left off as Soilwork began with the title song from their newest album, “The Ride Majestic,” followed by “Enemies in Fidelity” and “Death in General.” Giving the audience a good dose of the new material, in celebration of the tenth anniversary of Stabbing the Drama, they blasted into album tracks “The Crestfallen” and “Nerve.” Full of energy, Coudret’s impeccable guitar playing raised the band up even higher in the eyes of the crowd while Andersson bounced around on stage like a live wire. Taking Hardcore fans back to 2001’s A Predator’s Portrait, as the sounds of “Bastard Chain” hit the speakers, the crowd screamed in anticipation and exploded once the track kicked in.
Riding high on excitement, Speed and Soilwork finished the crowd off with “Stabbing the Drama” and 2013’s The Living Infinite song “Spectrum of Eternity.” While the set seemed to jolt by entirely too fast for dedicated fans, the chance to see Soilwork again was well worth it. Those out on the West Coast should make note Soilwork will be partaking in three special headlining shows with support from Shattered Sun October 31st in Mesa, AZ, November 1st in San Diego, CA, and November 2nd in Hollywood, CA. With plans to tour Europe upon their return after this US run, hopes are Soilwork will grace American soil again soon for more headlining tour.
Finally, it became time for Max and Soulfly to hit the stage. A Metal love at heart himself, there is no doubt Max was rocking out to Shattered Sun and Soilwork prior to their set and was all warmed up to tear up Fonda Theatre. With a new record in Archangel, Soulfly was ready to take on the packed room with their larger than life sound.
Beginning with “We Sold Our Souls to Metal,” following was the title song of their newest album, “Archangel.” Continuing with Archangel material, they went into “Ishtar Rising” before 2008’s Conquer cut, “Blood Fire War Hate” which ignited the pit to erupt with frenetic energy. Standing behind his skeleton gas mask mic stand, Max belted out vocals with an unending energy worthy of a man half his age. His long, thick dreadlocks swung to the beat of his son’s drumming, and it was easy to see the chemistry the band shared as they laid it all on the line.
As the night continued with 2005’s “Carved Inside,” “Sodomites” featuring Nails’ vocalist/guitarist Todd Jones, and “Prophecy,” Cavalera made sure to give credit where credit was due by cheering on both the members of his own band and the names of the other bands on the bill that night. At one point, when Greg Puciato of The Dillinger Escape Plan joined Soufly on the stage, he heard someone in the crowd scream “Rise of the Fallen,” which set the band off into a rendition of the 2010 tune from Omen.
Moving along at a fury speed, fans were also treated to “Seek ‘N’ Strike,” “Shamash,” “Tribe,” “Bethlehem’s Blood,” and “Titans.” Then to long-time followers delight, Cavalera brought up the past with a few Sepultura covers, going with “Arise” and “Dead Embryonic Cells” from 1991’s Arise, “Refuse/Resist” from 1993’s Chaos A.D., and “Roots Bloody Roots” from 1996’s Roots. As the venue’s speakers threatened to burst from the force of the bass lines and squalling axes, the band played on with “Frontlines” and “Back to the Primitive” before getting the crowd really incensed with “Jumpdafuckup” and “Eye for an Eye,” a real treat with Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper” as an outro to end the night. Both band and crowd were out of their collective breaths as Soulfly thanked the crowd for coming before taking their leave once again, ending the set.
Balancing a set that was full of surprises, Soulfly opened the tour in a tremendous fashion that set the standard for all the shows that followed thereafter. Max proved to be a true warrior of Metal and many should be thankfully someone such as he is still holding the torch for the scene. The first leg of the We Sold Our Souls to Metal tour will continue to make its way across the US for the month of October, ending on the 30th in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the Sunshine Theatre. Once this leg is over, as mentioned, Soilwork will head to Europe to play with Hatesphere while Shattered Sun sticks around for the second leg of the We Sold Our Souls to Metal tour, this time joined by Sludge Metal band Crowbar and Groove Metal band Incite. This juncture kicks off on November 6th at the Hard Rock Café in Las Vegas, Nevada and continues on for fourteen more shows before coming full circle and landing in Mesa, Arizona at the AZ BBQ & Beer Fest. Fans should be sure to check their local listings to see if these one-of-a-kind Metal maniacs plan on making a stop nearby.