With the onset of February we are getting a little busier. 2nd, Protest The Hero, 6th Del Amitri, 9th Molly Hatchet, 14th Monster Magnet, 15th Dream Theater, 19th, Sons Of Icarus, 20th Skyclad, 25th Soulfly, 26th Cadillac Three

And maybe a couple more to be added.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

SOULFLY, Savage Messiah, Upon Descent @O2 Academy2, Birmingham

Local boys Upon Descent appear to be having the time of their lives, and well they might too. With a sound that owes much to tonight's headliners, they are evidently Soulfly fans given that they are moshing by the merch stand about two hours after they leave the stage. They make an equally positive impression while they are in the spotlight and they are fully deserving of the reception they are afforded. Tracks like "Shall We Begin" win them plenty of new fans, RTM included, and seeing them tonight is the equivalent of popping your head through a Bloodstock tent and enjoying a band you didn't expect to see for half an hour.

Savage Messiah, by contrast, have been one of favourites for quite a while. That said, we haven't had the best of experiences on the two other occasions we've seen them. Once was a rather ill-starred effort just up the road a couple of years ago when the there were almost literally more onstage than in the crowd, while the second, in the aforementioned Bloodstock tent, was ruined by a simply awful sound. 

If that leads you to suspect that Savage Messiah are, rather like contemporaries Evile, never going to quite translate their obvious talent into outright success, then Dave Silver and his newly merry men appear determined to change minds.  With album number three ready to drop in the next fortnight, these are important times for the band. They seem ready. Set closer "Insurrection Rising" - the fabulous title track of their debut record - is still perhaps the benchmark for the group, the new CD is most probably going to run it close.  On first listen new single "Hellblazer" and "Cross Of Babylon" take Messiah into more heavy than thrash metal, while "Hammered Down" is very much an Iron Maiden gallop. Tonight's brave show (nearly all of it comes from yet to be released "The Fateful Dark") shows not only the faith they have in their new work, but also it speaks of a band reborn. Very much a case of third time lucky when it comes to seeing them live, and you hope that is a neat metaphor for Savage Messiah's career.

That there's a Brazilian flag on the amp probably gives away the fact that Max Cavalera is here tonight, if that didn't tip you off then the rabid crowd might, and if you are still struggling, the first 30 seconds of opener "Bloodshed" will end all doubts.

Since he brought his band Sepultura out of Brazil in the late 80s, Cavalera has made exactly the sort of uncompromising music he wanted to, and really, the breakthrough records of "Arise" and "Roots" in the early-to-mid 90s were many people's first exposure to extreme metal, if you didn't like grunge it was a bleak musical time and it was Seps who as much as anyone, that offered something interesting and different.

Cavalera still does. When he left the band he formed with his brother, Igor, the effect was seismic. What didn't change, however, was his ability to write riff after riff and great song after great song. New album "Savages" is in that respect more of the same, the band - now featuring the next generation of Cavalera's, Max's son Zyon, on drums -  don't play much from it but what they do showcase is superb.

Onstage for 90 minutes, Soulfly offer the same effect as being bludgeoned repeatedly. Crushingly heavy, the four piece simply rattle off as many songs as they possibly can in as short a space of time as possible, this is fast, thrashy, Groove Metal of the absolute highest order, "Prophecy", casually tossed out near the start, is a showstopper, while "Babylon" and "Sacrifice" sound fantastic. 

There is, of course a smattering of Sepultura, with "Roots" still a veritable tour-de-force and "Refuse/Resist" dripping with menace. Less expected, perhaps is Cavelera playing "Wasting Away" a Nailbomb song, that amazingly is nearly twenty years old,

At the heart of everything is the frontman himself, a big man with a big presence and one who still appears born to be in a metal band, and he turns "No" with its lyrics criticising everything from Rednecks to Hootie And The Blowfish into real knockabout stuff, and returns for the encore with snippets of "War Pigs" and Napalm Death's "Scum".

After "Eye For An Eye" he yells "scream for me, Birmingham" and with that disappears, leaving the other three members to play us out with an instrumental version of "The Trooper". An unexpected end, perhaps, but one, which like the rest of the evening, had quality metal writ large all the way through it.

No comments:

Post a Comment