A wonderful occurrence happened repeatedly before even setting foot in Billboard for tonight’s gig. When walking about Melbourne’s CBD or having a quiet drink before heading off to the gig, if this scribe saw anyone else wearing a T-shirt of a band associated with heavy metal or similar musical genres, total strangers would smile, do the sign of the cow at each other, or simply say ‘Cavalera?’ to which they would get an affirmative and usually highly enthusiastic response. This was a wonderful experience and shows, under all the long hair and tattoos, that those who love their metal in Melbourne are truly some of the nicest people.
This night kicked off in fine fashion with local three piece Contrive. Featuring the Haug twins – Paul on vocals and guitar, Andrew on drums – and Tim Stahlman on bass, the band were an excellent choice to warm up the gathering crowd. Playing heavier music influenced by the likes of Sepultura and thrash metal in general, the boys had an excellent vibe and groove to their style and sound. A really good start to what would prove to be an astounding night.
Continuing the heavy, brutal vibe were five piece Lynchmada from the Gold Coast. While playing with conviction and creating a crushing and brutal sound, the band were somewhat repetitive in their sound and approach. Also, the sound mix didn’t do the band any favours, as it favoured the instruments over the vocals of singer Joel Harris. As a result, his vocal sounded extremely sludgy and basically like forty-five minutes of indecipherable screaming. However, this wasn’t a band one listens to for deep and meaningful lyrical content. Lynchmada are an excellent band to start a mosh to and blow off some steam. A fitting addition to the night and a good set overall.
Finally, it was time for the mighty Cavalera Conspiracy to take to the stage. After an ominous rumbling sound that teased and unnerved the audience, the band arrived on stage. Looking like someone up the back of the train carriage who swears at nobody in particular, Max Cavalera immediately displayed why he is one of the most important figures in the history of heavier music. Featuring Max’s brother, Igor, on drums, Johnny Chow on bass and Mark Rizzo on lead guitar, the band meant business right from the get go, launching into an utterly lacerating version of “Torture”, off the latest album, Blunt Force Trauma.
Tonight did not let up for an absolute second during the band’s seventy-five minute set. The crowd responded in kind, throwing themselves every which way in the circle pit; which should have had a sign saying that only the brave and/or crazy should enter, it was that fierce.
There was a really great split with the set list between tracks by The Cavalera Conspiracy and a smattering of some classic Sepultura tracks from the Cavalera era of that band. It is such a joy to see that, to paraphrase The Chemical Brothers that the brothers worked it out, after not speaking to each other for over ten years. Max and Igor make such brilliant and powerful music together. Igor is truly one of the most underrated drummers in the world. Part man, part octopus, he plays with such passion and power that is truly a gobsmacking sight to behold and puts most other drummers to shame.
Track highlights came thick and fast. Max was utterly charismatic and charming with the crowd, such as when he encouraged the circle pit before the band launched into “Sanctuary”. Other Cavalera Conspiracy high points included “I Speak Hate”. The Cavalera Conspiracy is Max and Igor really getting back to their musical roots. This was thrash at its most pure and decimating.
It was the Sepultura tracks that got the biggest response from the crowd. “Chaos A.D” in particular made this crowd go absolutely bugfuck! “Refuse/Resist” and particularly “Attitude”, which is rarely played live, were massive surprises in this crushing and brutal set from the band. It was a moment of absolute joy when Paul Haug from Contrive joined the band on stage to do a stunning version of “Territory”.
In a day and age where the concept of the encore has become redundant, The Cavalera Conspiracy really pulled out something special. This ‘something special’ was a truly ballistic version of “Roots Bloody Roots” that you could feel in your heart, mind and bones. The crowd mania managed to go into complete overdrive. Faster than the studio version from the Roots album, this scribe swears that it managed to all but straighten his pubic hair.
This was a brilliant night of hard, brutal, punishing and utterly uncompromising metal. It was truly a joy to see that the Cavalera brothers still have it after all these years. This was, to use an old Australian colloquialism, an absolute balltearer of a night.
– Neil Evans