Words: Alan Daly
Pics: © Olga Kuzmenko Photography
On what is undoubtedly Ireland’s biggest night of metal of the year so far, by far, the Tivoli Theatre hosts a fearsome foursome of international heavy hitters and a capacity crowd. With plenty of shenanigans ahead for the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day festival and the Six Nations Grand Slam victory celebrations, everyone knows that tonight is going to be, nay, MUST be, the perfect start to the weekend.
New Jersey deathcore group Fit For An Autopsy have already gotten the party started when we arrive shortly after 6:30 pm and their aggressive style gets the blood pumping and hearts racing from the outset. Formed in 2008, they may be the “new kids” on the tour, but having toured with bands like Arch Enemy and Trivium, they know how to work for the crowd, and are getting a decent reaction from the growing, and mostly sober, audience. The final two tracks, ‘Iron Moon’ and ‘Black Mammoth’, both taken from their most recent album The Great Collapse are received particularly well. It is often the case when four bands are billed on a tour such as this, that the opener can be underwhelming. Not so tonight, and we look forward to seeing FFAA again soon.
Next up are a band I had personally been looking forward to seeing again; Louisiana based death metal five-piece Goatwhore, and it’s clear that I’m not alone in my enthusiasm for their return to Dublin. The crowd is vocal in welcoming them on stage, and the instant surprise is that founding frontman Ben Falgoust is sporting a plaster cast on his right leg, and makes his way on crutches to an upturned flight case center-stage where he spends the full set giving his best performance possible. That’s not to say he isn’t able to whip his long mane of hair around, windmill style. Opening with ‘Alchemy of the Black Sun Cult’, from their third album A Haunting Curse, their setlist continues with numbers taken from releases since then, completely omitting their first two albums. Since their last visit to Ireland, they have released a new album Vengeful Ascension, and tonight we are treated to no less than four of its tracks including ‘Under the Flesh, Into the Soul’ and the title track. Of course, the biggest crowd reaction of the night is for the sing-along finale ‘FBS’ (Fucked By Satan).
The third band of the night is progressive death metallers Obscura. Once again, this is a band that has its own fair share of fans in the audience, and they lap up the performance by the German quartet from the get-go. It’s a precise and impressive delivery of lengthy and technically intricate songs, and with a new album titled Diluvium on the not-too-distant horizon, fans must make do with tracks from the last three albums; Akróasis, Omnivium, and Cosmogenesis. In particular, the final track ‘Centric Flow’ gives guitarists Rafael Trujillo and (also singer) Steffen Kummerer the opportunity to rip through some blistering guitar work, much to the enthrallment of the crowd.
With the time for tonight’s headliner drawing tantalizingly close, there is a flurry of activity as the road crew prepares the stage for the mighty Sepultura; a process that seems to take an eternity. Once the elaborate drumkit and raised podiums have been unveiled, and several sound-check issues resolved, the house lights dim, and the chants of “Se-pul-tura” begin. Tonight is their first headline slot in Dublin since the release of their highly regarded album Machine Messiah (not counting a support slot for Kreator in Vicar Street just over one year ago), and fans are hungry for a full-length set. Amongst the front rows are several (obviously) Brazilian die-hard Sepultura fans, kitted out in green and yellow, with one girl even joining via Skype thanks to her obliging friend.
An unsurprising one-two of new tracks get the show on the road with ‘I am the Enemy’ and ‘Phantom Self’, and are received enthusiastically by the energetic crowd. The third track ‘Kairos’ continues to gain traction, but it is the fourth one ‘Territory’ from their seminal 1993 album Chaos A.D. that really sees the frenzy begin, with moshing and crowd-surfing knocking more than a few pre-Paddy’s day beers to the ground. The audience sing-along is evidence that the early days of Sepultura will always be held in high regard, but this year marks Derrick Green’s twentieth year in the band (hard to believe, huh?), and tonight leaves no doubt that he is a perfect fit for long-time bandmates Andreas Kisser and Paulo Jr. Indeed, their most recent recruit Eloy Casagrande, who has been with them since 2011, solidifies the current lineup with a jaw-dropping performance on the drums.
The setlist continues with ‘Desperate Cry’ from Arise, before another two tracks from Machine Messiah; ‘Sworn Oath’ and ‘Resistant Parasites’, during which a crowd surfer floated across the audience holding a handful of flames. Cool trick. I’m just not sure how, or why, he did it, or whether the bouncers who went looking for him managed to catch him. Kisser addresses the audience in both English and Portuguese to announce a trio of tracks from Against; the title track, ‘Choke’ and the lesser-played ‘Boycott’. Of course, the latter part of the set is still reserved for those fan favorites, ‘Refuse/Resist’, ‘Arise’, ‘Slave New World’, ‘Ratamahatta’ and the anthemic ‘Roots Bloody Roots’. As instructed, the crowd loses their minds and burns out whatever energy they had left after a long night of top quality metal.
In previous tours, Sepultura tended to reserve the lion’s share of setlists for songs from the Max Cavalera days. Now finally, they have the repertoire and confidence to deliver more from the post-Roots albums, and this is a positive step in my opinion. Sepultura could not be any better live than they are right now, with tight musicianship, abundant energy, and genuine camaraderie. Do not miss this tour.