On a cold night in Springfield, VA Sepultura blazed the frost off the roof with a more than brutal performance. The pit was supercharged by Sep's savage brand of metal and Sep was fueled by the pit, leaving the good people of Virginia sprawling about the place! Now THAT'S a fuckin' rock show!
By Mike Pursely
Photos by Donna Rickles
A full moon. A bitter cold night. I pulled into the parking lot of a Kebab restaurant adjacent to Jaxx Nightclub, late for the show due to automobile troubles. As luck would have it, I had not missed any of
Sepultura's set. I immediately called their tour manager to touch base.
"I will meet you by the merch table. I have on a black sweatshirt," he informed me. I looked around and laughed. This was a Sepultura show and almost everyone was clad in black.
Jaxx was as full as I'd ever seen it, and there was a definite charge in the air. Sepultura are touring to support the
Dante XXI album, their strongest work with vocalist Derrick Green and their finest in a decade according to most fans. The crowd of mostly twenty-somethings was a testament to the staying power and influence of the mighty
Most in attendance were learning to use pudgy legs to toddle along while original drummer Igor Cavalera was using his to perfect brutal blast beats over 20 years ago. I was also happy to see a few wizened metal heads among the crowd there to support a band that has been slaying for generations.
My chosen seat at a bar on the left side of the stage allowed me to get a close look at the band and to survey their effect on the crowd. The
place went dark, people drew toward the
stage and a pit formed behind them. Sepultura emerged and wasted no time, launching into
"Dark Wood of Error," the opening track off of Dante XXI. They were tight, loud, and brutal. Blasting, pounding, and going off in mad gallops, Sepultura fused organic energy and mechanical precision, the intensity of which stayed in the red the entire set.
The current Sepultura line-up has gone through some recent changes, most importantly the addition of Jean Dolabella, who replaced original drummer Igor
Cavalera earlier this year. Currently Sepultura is Dolabella, Derrick Green, bassist Paulo Jr., and guitarist Andreas
Not having seen Sepultura live with a different line-up left me unable to compare the
band's chemistry with their new percussionist to older Sepultura line-ups. Although their sonic assault
seemed to be tip top, the band did not thrash around the stage as violently as I'd heard in the past. Each musician seemed focused intently on creating
sound and left the physical interpretation of the music to the crowd. Even with a new percussionist, the tightness of the changes in tempo and rhythm showed that Sepultura was capable of thinking and performing as a collective force.
Vocalist Derrick Green proved to be a magnetic focal point for the music. Larger than life, bearded, with three feet of dread locks,
he'd probably be a scary dude if not for his ever-present smile and polite rapport with the audience between songs. While performing, he would gaze out over the crowd as if surveying a deep valley from a mountaintop. This move allowed him to draw in everyone in the club, from those sandwiched in at the front of the stage to those sitting at the bar in the rear. His strength of his voice and poised stage-presence helped me understand why many Sepulture fans actually prefer him to Max
"We're going to play some old shit. And we're going to play some new shit." Green told the crowd.
"Dark Wood of Error," "Convicted in Life," "False," "Ostia," and "Buried Words," were tracks off of
Dante XXI that were performed. On the flip side of the coin was "Necromancer," which Green explained was the first Sepultura song ever written some twenty-two years ago. This and other early tracks gave a fascinating glimpse into the beginnings of
Sepultura and revealed some of the group's punk roots.
The songs most happily received by fans were those from the mid-nineties golden age of Sepultura such as
Is Godzilla," which became a sing along, and the finale, "Roots Bloody Roots." Missing was the famous percussion piece that featured in many of
Sepultura's shows. Perhaps the band didn't wish the tribal drumming to become an obligatory feature in their set. Despite the omission, the power of the show left the crowd satisfied.
Throughout the show unending mosh pit provided the perfect barometer for the
band's performance. The pit swirled and swarmed as a collective whole, reacting together to the loosening and tightening of the riffs. Sometimes participants would headbang, sometimes push, other times spaz like shell shocked soldiers. Throughout this, the pit maintained a sort of etiquette that was refreshing to see, helping up those on the ground before knocking them down
again and never intentionally interfering with non-moshers near the stage.
By the encore, those near the stage were packed in as close as possible and the pit was a shaken snow globe of moving bodies. The savage avalanche of
"Roots Bloody Roots" came to an end and the lights went up. Everyone was pleased. Any die-hard Sepultura fan on the fence about catching the current incarnation of this classic, genre-defining group should totally check them out.