Live Review : Sepultura, Elm Street & Desecrator @ 170 Russell, Melbourne 03/10/2014

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Ten long years after they hit our shores, Friday night saw the return of one of the seminal metal bands Sepultura in all their live glory.

From the bands on the bill there was no mistaking this was going to be a night of neck-breaking thrash and there would be many a sore neck in old Melbourne town after this gig.

Opening up proceeding were Desecrator. This band has gone through as many line-up changes as tonight’s headliners but holding the whole thing in place is front man Riley Strong. Having seen this band quite a few times over the years I am amazed at how much they improve with each performance. The current line-up is definitely one of Desecrator’s strongest with every band member being right on top of their game tonight. Despite the early-ish time slot they had a decent turnout and put everything they had into their performance. At the end of the day that’s all you can ask of any band. These guys left it all on the stage to a very appreciative crowed who took a while to win over at first but by the end of their set was lapping up everything being thrown at them. In terms of sound this band really does bring back images of what it might have been like seeing and early-era Metallica treading the boards around the Bay Area. Desecrator is all about thrash metal and nothing else. What they do they do very well and do better each time you see them. Thumbs up to the guys for getting the night off to a great start. This band should be much bigger than what they currently are as they are fantastic. If you get a chance to see them do not pass it up especially if a bit of old-school thrash is up your alley.

Next up was the mighty Elm Street. Talk about a band that has really taken off the last few years! If I was going to use one word to describe this band it would be “tight”. Everything about their performance from the way they executed their songs to their stage show and in-between song talks was perfect. This band has really upped the professionalism over the last few years. Having been around for 10-years they know how to put on a show and not be forgotten even if they are supporting some might big bands nowadays. Ben Batres is proving himself to be a more-than-capable singer. The only really thing that didn’t grab me about Elm Street’s set was Batre’s between song banter where the accent seemed a little too “put on” or fake. Then again I don’t know him so maybe that is how he speaks ordinarily. Having said, he’s a good front man and his interplay with Aaron Adie is fantastic. Speaking of which, Adie surely has to be one of the finest lead guitarist in Melbourne. He ripped out his whole bag of tricks tonight and was note-perfect throughout. You can tell this is a man (and band) that work really hard at their craft.

Through no fault of their own, the crowd did get a little tireless towards the end of the Elm Street set. Two support bands (as good as they were), late doors, and a late slot for Sepultura would do that to you! Still, up next were the mighty Sepultura.

In true Sepultura fashion they took to the stage with very little fanfare. A bit of smoke and there they were, ready to give their fans what they waited 10 long years for. Opening up with “The Vatican” from their fantastic new album (let’s just call it “The Mediator” ok?) this is a band that was on a mission from the get go. In Derek Green they have a very imposing singer who had the crown in the palm of his hands from the opening note to the encore. The setlist contained everything that a Sepultura could ask for. Being a perfect mix of old and new all the hits and fan favorites were on offer tonight along with some ripping new tracks highlighting how good the new album actually is. “Kairos” quickly followed by “Propaganda” worked the crowd into one sweaty heap with the whole floor becoming a mosh pit which remained for the rest of the gig. Songs like “Dusted”, “Dead Embryonic Cells”, “Biotech Is Godzilla” heighted just how many good songs this band has. Green was demanding that the crowd get into it at every possible chance and the crowd didn’t disappoint as they were giving the band everything they wanted and more. At one stage during “Dead Embryonic Cells) they almost drowned out the band in singing along. Well done Melbourne. Not a beat was missed by the band or the Audience on the night. Of course with such a wealth of a back-catalogue there were a few songs that people may say were missed but at the end of the day this was a very solid set by the band highlighting almost all their albums.

In terms of the band itself, Derrick Green is an absolute monster of a singer. Built like a brick outshed when he asks you to scream or mosh…you do it. His guttural growl suits the band perfectly. Sure people may complain about who isn’t in the band anymore but to be honest I can’t see anyone suiting Sepultura better than Green right now. This is a man who you can tell appreciates his fans and went out of his way to make sure he gave the fans exactly what they wanted. As expected, all eyes were on Andreas Kisser for most of the night. Kisser put on a great performance executing all songs perfectly and making it look so effortless. The night also saw Kisser take over vocal duties on a few tracks. Normally you can tell when a band is faking it, but Kisser genuinely loved the reaction he got from the Melbourne crowd with a smile that didn’t leave his face all night. This s definitely Kisser’s band and he held court over proceedings all night. Given the complexity of a lot of their material it’s amazing how the band managed to make it work with the solitary guitar player but Kisser more than pulled it off. Tonight he delivered a master class in metal. The remaining Paolo Jr on bass spent most of the night head banging in the background and holding the whole thing down. The only point he came close to losing it was when some of the Melbourne fans ripped out flags of his beloved Clube Atlético Mineiro back in Brazil. He truly seemed shock that people even knew who they were (I could swear there was almost a tear in his eye at that point). As mentioned, all band members bought their A-game on the night but in keeping with the football theme if there was a man-of-the-match tonight it is without a doubt drummer Eloy Casagrande. Anyone that knows anything about Sepultura knows that they combine quite a lot of the tribal / South American elements into a lot of their music. This is very hard for any drummer to pull off given not only the changing tempos in a lot of Sepultura’s songs on the night but also the complete change in styles often in the same song. Casagrande in effect had two kits set up and was switching between thrash and tribal seamlessly. At only 23 years of age, he really is a force to be reckoned with and put on a superb show on the night. At times I found myself completely fixated by what this guy was doing on the kit. No matter how much I might have loved a particular song this guy was a showstopper.

Clocking in at just under 2 hours this show was the perfect end to a perfect night of thrash. Sepultura reminded us all why they one of the seminal metal bands of all time. We may have waited 10-years but it was really worth it in the end. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait that long to see them again.

Finally a quick mention for the tour organisers. Credit where credit is due, this was a great bill from start to finish. All three bands fit together perfectly on the night and it was great to see the Melbourne crowd get out there early and give a great reaction to the local supports as well as the always fantastic Sepultura. You’ll be very hard pressed to find a better night of metal than what this tour is bringing!

The Vatican
Kairos
Propaganda
Impending Doom
Manipulation of Tragedy
Convicted in Life
Dusted
Attitude
Dead Embryonic Cells
Biotech Is Godzilla
Spectrum
Da Lama ao Caos
Inner Self
Polícia
Territory
Arise
Refuse/Resist

Encore:
Trauma of War
Ratamahatta
Roots Bloody Roots

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