Sepultura, Evile & Amethyst @ Club Academy
Tonight Club Academy hosts a celebration, a celebration that marks the 30th anniversary for the brutal, and massively influential Brazilian behemoths, Sepultura. From humble beginnings as Sao Paulo thrashers they gradually incorporated a brutal mix of metal, hardcore, thrash, punk and tribal rhythms to create a distinctive brand of metallic holocaust that is both intense and passionate. This should be good then.
Of course opening for such legends is never going to be an easy task and if openers Amethyst are, and who could blame them, shitting bricks then they certainly betray nothing of the sort. In fact the Mancunian groove driven thrashers take the stage confidently and impress with a short set of manic, tight as the Hulk’s speedos, intense metal. The winners of 2015’s METAL 2 THE MASSES Manchester, quite rightly on tonight’s evidence, blast the Tuesday night cobwebs away and bring the noise in quality fashion.
Guitarist and vocalist James proves a capable front man while co-ordinating his razor sharp riffs with fellow axe man Simon. The rhythm section has Captain Caveman (ask your parents) Dan on bass who is a hairy, glaring beast playing what appears to be a railway sleeper with strings and drummer Aaron is a monster behind the kit. Passionate and with no shortage of flair and class, Amethyst prove that thrash metal is still vital especially in the hands of these youngsters. If you see their name on a bill be sure to check these buggers out, as you will not be disappointed.
Huddersfield is not only the home of famously tight-arsed Iron Maiden manager Rod Smallwood but is also home turf for heavy metallers, Evile. Thrashing since 1999 and with a string of quality albums to their name, this Yorkshire four-piece arguably deserve more success than they seem to have garnered thus far. Their Metallica influence is obvious but unlike Lars and co. they manage to keep it heavy, fast and exciting – keeping closer to their heavy metal roots. By combining the visceral power of bands like Exodus with the technicality of Annihilator they produce slabs of anthemic battery that leave a scar.
Recent line-up changes have seen Matt Drake’s brother Ol replaced by Piers Donno-Fuller who appears to have slotted in comfortably while the rest of the personnel is completed by Joel Graham on bass and Ben Carter on drums.
Once welcomed onto the stage they crash into Underworld from latest opus Skull, a dramatic intro that explodes into a million-mile-an-hour thrash assault. If their intent is to rip faces off then this is the right way to start. Matt Drake’s riffing is machine-gun fast and tight, challenging the rhythm section to keep up which they do admirably. Ben Carter drums like an angry octopus-man slapping his unruly kids while Fuller more than does justice to Ol Drake’s leads. It’ll be interesting to hear what his stamp will be on any future Evile release.
It’s an all too short eight song set tonight and it flies by, but they manage to cram in enough of their best tunes, including the superb Cult, the magnificent In Dreams of Terror and climaxing with headbanger anthem Thrasher from their début, Enter the Grave. It’s an assured performance from one of Britain’s finest metal bands that never disappoint in a live setting.
For a band that have stayed the course for 30 years, Club Academy seems a strangely small venue considering in metal terms Sepultura are a household name. But tonight isn’t the time to ponder the injustices of a music world where this band should surely be bigger but rather it is a time for the Sepultribe to unite and celebrate the gifts of brutality this band have bestowed upon us for the last 30 years. And besides, how often really do you get so close to a legendary band, close enough to take a plectrum from the guitarist’s hand?
Alongside original members Andreas Kisser and Paulo Jr. are the enormous Derrick Green, who replaced Max Cavalera in 1998 and Eloy Casagrande who occupies the drum stool formerly belonging to Igor Cavalera. The dispute between the Cavalera brothers is well documented and once again this is not the place. This is about the here and now and what Sepultura have to offer us this night. Well, if there is such thing as the perfect set list then tonight is surely it.
From the moment Troops of Doom from their 1986 debut LP kicks in the Club Academy becomes a war zone, a good few of the assembled mass not even born when this was first released. Bodies clash, limbs flail and hair windmills as old school thrash preaches to both young and old fans. The sound is visceral and muscular pummelling you at gut level, thumping through your ears and into your skull. And so begins a retrospective journey through the Sepultura back catalogue, a rich treasure trove of manic thrash, technical precision and pounding tribal rhythms.
And here lies the key to the Sepultura experience. Back in 1993 with Chaos AD they decided to eschew the typical thrash of earlier efforts and begin experimenting with traditional tribal instruments and Brazilian drumming. An unlikely mix of styles for the time found the ability to tap into the very pulsating heart of all music that moves us. That pure, heavy, body-shaking rhythm that all the ancient peoples understood and even now coaxes the stiffest corpse into pure celebratory life. And tonight we live!
So whether it’s classic thrashers like Inner Self or the angry, still relevant protest of Refuse/Resist the gathered Manchester metallers are united in celebration of this pure display of beautiful noise. Green’s voice is devastating on material old and new and the sounds Kisser wrestles from his guitar are
astounding. Paulo Jnr. supplies bowel emptying low end while Casagrande’s drums go from pummeling thrash to tribal tinkering with effortless ease. Ratamahatta is bolstered by Green smashing his own floor tom before Roots Bloody Roots tears the venue a new one. This was a frighteningly good performance; hot sweaty and up close and personal. This is one band with the ability to unite the tribes. One love, one nation, one Sepulnation.
The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be The Heart is out now on Nuclear Blast.
Words: Paul Cooke | Photos: Wendy Keogh