5 October 2014 at Manning Bar
Heading out to the Manning Bar, I had a number of things running through my head about how this particular outing would play out. This was Sepultura's second tour in Australia with their vocalist for 17 years Derrick Green along with the first time for new young only 23 year of age drummer Eloy Casagrande, who would join classic members Andreas Kisser and Paulo Jr to take the reins of the Brazilian Metal juggernaut into a new era.
Eloy's first release with the band was their most recent (and longest titled) 'The Mediator Between Head and Hands must be the Heart', which turned out to be a surprisingly killer release, being more of a return to their Thrash Metal roots as seen on 'Kairos' before but this time bringing a more frenetic, pounding intensity, wrapped up in some absolutely killer tracks that deserve to be played live along with the old-school material for years to come. Something that also stood out was the varied nature of the support acts, many coming out of left-field from the more traditional and expected metal bands of the other tour stops. I came with an open mind, curious and eager to discover what these bands could do with this opportunity and to experience what they had that so interested the Sepultura touring team.
Local Sydney act, Dawn Heist took up the stage first with an interesting display of what could only aptly be described as Electro-Metal. Taking an almost avant-garde, ambient approach, Dawn Heist conjured up a wall of sound through their droning breakdowns and soaring synthesised keyboard from their mixing computer, making full use of the venue's sound capabilities. Lead vocalist Pat lead the haunting performance, inviting us to "Come have a party and get drunk with us" between his soulful crooning. His clean, melodic vocal style while unexpected from a grizzled, burly looking guy like him married into the instrumentation effectively. Overall, the Dawn Heist boys laid out their experimental capabilities for all to see, making a distinct impression and no doubt building up some intrigue while still feeling like a suitable fit with the more rhythmic, visceral side of Sepultura.
This would be a great tonal shift to the Graveyard Rockstars, a real spectacle of a band that is hard to pinpoint musically. Having opened for the Misfits previously, these guys seemed to exemplify three things; Horror, Groove, and Macabre fun. Beginning to rile this crowd up, this band had a really muddy 90's rhythmic sound, courtesy of Leeno Dee's basswork, with a sort of ringing traditional metal undertone from Brendan Synnz and M.Ripper's twin guitar attack. Despite their dark 'n dour appearance (complete with ashen painted faced, bondage gear, and more leather than could ever be comfortable to wear), Graveyard Rockstars were easily the most upbeat band of the night, having an absolute ball and swaggering around the stage like they owned it. The crowd responded well to this energy, bobbing heads and pumping fists to the likes of 'Dusk 'til Dawn' until it was time for the headliner.
No matter what happens, Sepultura will always be a Metal mainstay, and there is no greater evidence than their crowd reaction. Immediately from the first fuzz heard from the amps the crowd exploded as they launched into 'The Vatican', with immediate moshing, people climbing on and pogoing into each other, and circle pits forming without reprieve. This fast became a mix between a chaotic tribal war-dance, and one big heavy metal party. The sound was top notch, suitably crushing and well reflective of the recorded versions at their most intense. Some of the solos on the classic tracks could've done with the addition of a second guitarist to fill out the empty space and keep the rhythm strong, although this did indadvertedly lead to more emphasis being drawn to Andreas Kisser's fretwork, reinforcing the majesty of it all so this is fairly evened out. Something that has to be said is that Eloy Casagrande is an absolute beast, its no wonder he's been having drum-duels with Dave Lombardo on the latest record, The guys certainly made a brilliant choice in bringing him onboard. Speaking of highlights, the crowd responded well to the setlist notably receptive to Dead Embryonic Cells, Inner self, Ratamahatta, Biotech is Godzilla and Refuse/Resist among others. The new materially was also well liked, Trauma of War and Kairos eliciting a memorable response shows that many of the crowd was not just here for the nostalgic old-school, although some fairly audible chants for Troops of Doom did demonstrate the wide fan-base in attendance (I can guarantee there was at least one guy in a Morbid Visions Shirt).
Nevertheless, this show left a good taste in everyone's mouth, Andreas even calling us the best stop of the tour! While this certainly gave us bragging rights, I'd say this praise was well deserved with all of us still felling a bit of euphoria well past when the houselights came back on and singled our exit. Well done to Sepultura, and hopefully we won't have to wait so long to see them again.
Line-up: Sepultura, Graveyard Rockstars, Dawn Heist
Reviewer: Jay Mitchell