Saturday, May 30, 2015

Sepultura at the Marlin Room at Webster Hall

Paulo Pinto Jr. (background)
and Derrick Green
Guitarist Max Cavalera and his brother, drummer Igor Cavalera, formed Sepultura in 1984 when they were teenagers in Belo Horizante, Brazil. Max heard the album Black Sabbath Vol. 4 and inspired his brother to form a band the very same day. Originally, they wanted to call their band Tropa de Choque (Shock Troops), but found that the name already had been used. They chose the name Sepultura, the Portuguese word for "grave," when Max translated the lyrics of the Motörhead song "Dancing on Your Grave." Sepultura relocated in 1986 to the larger city of São Paulo, Brazil, and in 1990 to Phoenix, Arizona. The band was a major force in death metal, thrash metal and groove metal during the late 1980s and early 1990s, selling almost 30 million recordings worldwide. Max quit the band in 1996 and Igor left in 2006; the two reunited as the Cavalera Conspiracy in 2007. Sepultura's present lineup consists of sole remaining member Paulo Pinto Jr. on bass, with American vocalist Derrick Green, guitarist Andreas Kisser, and drummer Eloy Casagrande. Sepultura's 13th and most recent studio album, The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be the Heart, was released in 2013.

Sepultura's current tour does not promote a current album, but rather a 30-year legacy. It was fitting that the band should perform at the Marlin Room at Webster Hall; the band's first U.S. concert 25 years ago was in the same venue's upstairs room. While not touching on every album tonight, Sepultura's set went as far back as two tracks from 1985, "The Curse" and "Bestial Devastation," and as far forward as one new and as-yet-unreleased song, "Under My Skin." Out of 16 songs, 10 were from the more popular Max Cavalera period and six were more recent, but they worked well together, energized by a band that meshed splendidly together. A baritone Green growled his lyrics, Kisser played lightning guitar leads, and the rhythm section kept it all fast and heavy, from down-tuned death metal and machine-gun thrash metal to hair-spinning groove metal and even blast-beat nu metal breakdowns. On several songs, Green beat rhythms into a tom tom for extra percussion. It was all metal, but even among the newer works the obvious flavorings of hardcore punk, industrial and tribal sounds kept each song distinct and interesting. The Cavalera brothers are gone, but Sepultura is not one.

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