Max & Iggor Cavalera Return to Roots
Exit/In; Nashville, TN • September 15, 2016
by Jen Cray
My knowledge of Sepultura, prior to falling in love with a former metalhead, was shaped by clips of videos I remember seeing on Beavis & Butthead. When the band was at their peak, I was drowning in the sounds of SeattleÂ world’s away from the Brazilian thrash metal that was reshaping it’s genre and inspiring a generation of drummers to try to keep up with the visionary speed freak insanity of Iggor Cavalera. Lucky for me,everything comes back and, even though Iggor and singer/guitarist Max Cavalera (his brother) left Sepultura 10 and 20 years ago, respectively, the pair are back together and performing pivotal album Roots in its entirety.
After an ankle injury (Iggor’s) delayed the first couple of dates of the tour, Return to Roots kicked off at Nashville’s Exit/In last week and an audience full of fans were reminded of just how exhilarating those exotic groove metal riffs are. Sepultura never shied away from melodies and so, even though their songs annihilate the senses with heavy hitting drum beats and furious vocals, there was always a bed of very dance-able rhythms buried beneath the fire. It inspires movement — be it in the form of frenzied drumming on legs, neck breaking head-banging, or ignorant to injury moshing. From the moment Max and Iggor, who are joined on this tour by Cavalera Conspiracy bandmates Mark Rizzo and Johnny Chow, plow into opening song “Roots Bloody Roots,” the room is en-flamed.
En-flamed, yet embracing. Let me tell a little story about the Nashville audience, because after attending a couple of concerts in the famous Music City I have found that what I witnessed was not a freak incident, but the norm and it needs to be applauded and adapted by concert goers in other cities:
A sloppy drunk dude was getting a little obnoxious in the crowd and beginning to irritate one very large guy in particular. The big guy kept politely pushing him away and gently giving him the “stop before I punch you” look, until eventually an even larger security guard stepped in to assist. “Is this guy bothering you?” he asked Big Guy, in that impossibly precious country drawl. “No, no, it’s fine,” Big Guy answered, while still fending off repeated run-ins with Drunk Dude until, eventually, Big Guy and Security Sweetheart stopped the spinning top of drunkenness — not to escort him out, or even to berate him, but to ask him if he was ok! A short exchange ensued that quickly ended with Big Guy throwing an arm around Drunk Dude and asking, “Do you need a drink?” Seriously, Nashville, you people are the sweetest! I’d love to bottle you up and sprinkle your camaraderie on the rest of the world.
With everyone happy and having a good time, attention turned back to the show at hand. Roots was played through, in its entirety — complete with Max whipping out a berimbau during “Attitude.” The floor was a seething mass of happily colliding flesh that never quite waned, but got extra fiery during “Cut-Throat” and Straighthate” — though, for my money, “Born Stubborn” is far and away the most excitable song in the bunch. I have no basis for comparison to how this current incarnation of sorta-Sepultura compares to the days when the Roots album first was released 20 years ago, but what I witnessed was the kind of metal performance I always hope to, but rarely do, see performed live.
Combichrist opened the show with a carnival collision of industrial, goth punk, and tribal metal. Maybe it was the face paint, maybe it was the dual drummers, or maybe it was the crazed smiles the Atlanta band members wore on their faces throughout, but the performance gave off a very Mad Max vibe — which was a good thing, because the music on its own left much to be desired. The theatrics, though excessive, created a definite mood.
For metal fans, Sepultura fans in particular, this is a tour not be missed.