Review: Sepultura @ Manning Bar

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30 years is a long time. I’m 29 so I can’t speak from first-hand experience, but I would assume.

The irreversible march of time means a lot changes in 30 years. Friends and family come and go, sunrise and sunset, blah blah blah – and you could say much the same about Sepultura.

But it was with the joy of a teenager that I finally got to cross the Brazilian gods of metal off my list of bands to see on Sunday at the Manning Bar – a venue so small it belied the fact that the name Sepultura is an institution of metal, supported by their 30 years of longevity 

These first few paragraphs are where you’d normally see a review of the opening bands, but thanks to the NRL grand final we walked in the door midway through Sepultura’s first track – one that I’ve never heard.

By all accounts many of the new album songs sound great – if not a bit more technical than the standard Sepultura brutality. There were a few that sounded… not as great, but if you can go through a 30-year career without any misses I’d be surprised. Even Robin Williams did Bicentennial Man.

I highly doubt anyone was there to hear the new stuff anyway, as it was the ‘hits’ that sent the crowd (and myself) into a frenzy. Songs like ‘Territory’, ‘Refuse/Resist’, ‘Arise’, ‘Propaganda’, ‘Attitude’, ‘Ratamahatta’ and perennial closer ‘Roots’ led to visible madness in the pit and me getting my usual alcoholic basting, but it was all worth it.

Bear in mind that, despite their profile, Sepultura haven’t been here in 11 years.

Let’s deal with the elephant in the room now.

Yes, Max Cavalera (and Igor I guess) was the creative genius behind the band. He created it, wrote the definitive tracks, and even since leaving the band has maintained his status as a true icon of heavy metal – but remember this – HE LEFT IN THE 90’s. The band has continued for more than 15 years without him and remained a mainstay of international metal.

Despite this, Derrick Green is constantly criticised, and some stubborn ‘fans’ still yearn for Max. If you want to see Max Cavalera, go and watch the Cavalera Conspiracy. I did at the BDO a few years ago and you know what? They were shit. I know they’re probably not, but the sound was awful.

I personally admire Green. He knew from the start he had massive shoes to fill, has constantly received criticism from people who stopped listening to the band more than a decade ago, and has taken it all in his stride. At the end of the first song, no more than a minute after we’d walked in, he gave the issue all the attention it would get for the night when he stated “alot of people like to go and talk shit, but we’re all here, right now” – and he was right. He knows he’s not Max, so why don’t other people?

The set was long and diverse, with a well-balanced mix of old and new. There was a good level of crowd interaction, there was mutual gratitude between the band and the audience, each thankful for the others presence. The sound was well mixed from the get-go, and really, apart from the stickiness on my legs afterwards there was nothing to complain about.

I must note the performance of Eloy Cassagrande as well. I like to watch the drummers when I see a band, and with music as percussive as Sepultura’s, watching the drummer was always going to be entertaining – and he is PHENOMENAL. Skilled and fast, yes, but entertaining to watch, too – there’s nothing worse than an inanimate drummer… and the bastard is only 22.

Yes, Sepultura might not be the juggernaut that they were once considered.

Yes, the lineup has changed a multitude of times and the icons might not be there, but Sepultura aren’t just feebly staying alive by inhaling the fumes of their 90’s success – they’re still alive, and still kicking hard. 8/10

SETLIST

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
Territory
Arise
Refuse/Resist
—————
Trauma of War
Ratamahatta
Roots Bloody Roots

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