Sepultura

support Sworn Enemy
author AP date 17/08/11 venue The Rock, Copenhagen, DEN

Having seen Cavalera Conspiracy live on two separate occasions and having been equally taken aback both times by their renditions of Sepultura classics, it had been a long time aspiration of mine to also see how Sepultura would fare, in their current configuration, in comparison. Such an opportunity opened itself when The Rock, by way of their excellent new booking team, managed to contract the band for a small club show in Copenhagen, with support from Boston hardcore mob Sworn Enemy.

Sworn Enemy

Not knowing Sworn Enemy except by name, I had expected some variant of thrash metal in accordance with the evening's headliner, but alas, the Brazilian legends had opted for variety and billed a hardcore/metal hybrid to begin the proceedings. Sworn Enemy are essentially everything that I have come to loathe about metallic hardcore: uninspiring riffs, countless breakdowns, and monotonous thrashy roaring from start to finish. Now, even such a formula is known to function for a number of bands, such as Hatebreed, when combined with a sufficient level of attitude and show. But unfortunately, there is no element of show in Sworn Enemy's static demeanor; rather, the band's five members appear as though their shoes had been glued to the stage, the only real spark coming from vocalist Sal Lococo, who at least attempts to get the crowd involved with calls for a circle pit and pumps his fist in the air every now and then in the stereotypical hardcore manner. It is evident in the still-standing, unenthusiastic crowd, and it is evident in all of my colleagues gathered around the bar: what Sworn Enemy have to offer tonight isn't much to rave about, save for the admittedly solid musicianship. But at the very least, it is lackluster enough to make Sepultura's job that much easier. Almost anything Sepultura might do next would make their show appear triumphant in comparison.

4

Sepultura

But even before Sepultura take the stage, it is clear to us that the band is not in the highest spirits tonight, having been stopped and probably had their bus turned inside out by Danish border control earlier in the day, causing them to be severely delayed. Over 45 minutes pass between the end of Sworn Enemy's set and the beginning of Sepultura's; the wait is almost insufferable for the pack of journalists present, who have been at the venue since 16:00 that afternoon waiting for interviews that never happened. But when Sepultura do anti-ceremoniously enter through a backdoor, vocalist Derrick Green is, at the very least, sporting a wide grin, perhaps in response to the thunderous applause the venue explodes into. No time is wasted: "Arise" and "Refuse/Resist" are lobbed at us with punishing urgency as if to remind us that despite the band's tumultuous past, its roots have never been forgotten.

The sound, as with Sworn Enemy, is almost perfect, allowing the audience to devour the full extent of Andreas Kisser's ill-boding riffs; Derrick Green's characteristic grunts; Paulo Jr.'s thrashy bass licks; and Jean Dolabella's tribal drumming. But immediately it becomes obvious that with the departure of first Max Cavalera, and later his brother, percussionist extraordinaire Igor Cavalera, some of the enigma and magic that used to define Sepultura's music has been lost. The band simply dwarfs in comparison to Cavalera Conspiracy, who have made it their business to deliver live sets that heavily rely on the Cavalera days of Sepultura, their show coming across as a very proficient, yet somehow completely ordinary thrash metal affair.

Sepultura have the advantage of having an extensive and loved repertoire of classic songs that ensure a consistent level of enthusiasm on the crowd side; many classics area aired - among them "Troops of Doom", "Escape to the Void", "Meaningless Movements", "Territory" and "Inner Self" - turning the show into a veritable hit parade. But the performance seems to suffer from a distinct lack of flair, the kind you would expect from a band of such legend and experience. The fact that Sepultura are nearly as static as Sworn Enemy in their escapades might not matter to the countless fans in attendance tonight, who are content with hearing faithful live renditions of their favorite songs, including an expected encore comprising "Ratamahatta" and "Roots Bloody Roots", but for those of us tasked with scrutinizing the show for a review, Sepultura is performing with a deficit of passion, energy and interest.

Setlist:

  • 01. Arise
  • 02. Refuse/Resist
  • 03. Kairos
  • 04. Convicted in Life
  • 05. Choke
  • 06. What I Do!
  • 07. The Treatment
  • 08. Relentless
  • 09. Troops of Doom
  • 10. Septic Schizo / Escape to the Void
  • 11. Meaningless Movements
  • 12. Just One Fix (Ministry cover)
  • 13. Seethe
  • 14. Territory
  • 15. Inner Self
  • -- Encore --
  • 17. Ratamahatta
  • 18. Roots Bloody Roots

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